hexagonal futurism

From November 1964 to the end of 1965 the trinity Gian Paolo Dallara (*1939), Gian Paolo Stanzini, and Bob Wallace in their spare time built the chassis of a new car by which they wanted to convince the old man, Ferrucio Lamborghini (1916-1993) himself, to finally enter the racing circus. Ferrucio was delighted by the chassis and allowed the three to show it off at the 1965 motor show in Turin, Italy. Nevertheless he was reluctant to make a racing car out of it, but instead wanted to use it as the basis for a production car. For creating the body, Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone (1914-1997) was chosen. Being quite occupied at the time, Nuccio gave the assignment to Giorgetto Giugiaro (*1938), the best horse in his stable. The latter in turn passed it on to his assistant, Marcello Gandini (*1938). Thus it came that Gandini created what to my eye is the most perfect specimen of classical sportscar design, unsurpassed by anything else. Its prototype was presented in 1966 at Geneva, the Lamborghini Miura:
 

Lamborghini Miura
 

A Lamborghini Miura SV—detail of an image by Joe Sackey.

Taking a close look at the rear grill of the “Miura”, you discover that it consists of hexagonal honeycomb cells. As far as I know this design element indeed has been introduced to Automobili Lamborghini by Gandini.
 

Lamborghini Miura
 

The old man obviously liked Gandini’s design very much, Gandini stayed with the company, and drew production cars for it way beyond Ferrucio’s times: the Espada, Jarama, Urraco, Countach, and Diablo. With the immediate project following the “Miura”, Gandini, in the positive sense, wreaked havok in the world of automotive design, with “futurism” written all across his forehead. He really feasted on the hexagonals, both interior and exterior of the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal concept car are dominated by them—they even are repeated by the layout of the seats’ leather:
 

Lamborghini Marzal concept car
 

Lamborghini Marzal concept car
 

Lamborghini Marzal concept car
 

Lamborghini Marzal concept car
 

Now to something seemingly different. Here are two pieces of 2004 concept art showing the “Audi RSQ”, a prop for the cyberpunk movie “I, Robot” (2004) starring Will Smith. Of course the “design language” is radically different to the approach taken with the “Marzal”—little wonder, there are several decades in-between. But look at the “wheel” covers (there are no wheels envisioned, but the fenders house spheres):
 

Audi RSQ concept
 

Audi RSQ concept
 

There they are again, the hexagons. The structure of the front grill has been left rectangular, and the four interlinked rings of the Audi-logo still are circles—presumably in order not to destroy corporate identity design, and to leave the vehicle recognizable as an Audi. Me personally, I would radically have transformed both to hexagons as well—the grill with precise, sharp angles, the logo more rounded, still resembling the original one, and reminiscent of real honeycomb structure, which looks to me more like rows of circular drillholes, pressed to hexagons. [Note to the Audi design department: If you read this, remember that the contents of this blog are licenced ↑by-nc-sa
]

 

Honeycomb
 

The resurfacing of the honeycomb structure on Audi’s silver-screen car may be explainable as a piece of company tradition, though. Since the hexagons as a design element were introduced with the “Miura” in 1966, they reappear on the Lamborghinis until the present day. Even on the youngest model, the “Reventón,” they are to be found. Since 1998 Lamborghini is owned by Audi [which in turn is owned by Volkswagen]. The passing-on of the hexagons is speculation, of course, but it may be the case.
 

Rearlights of the Lamborghini Reventon
 

Detail of the Lamborghini “Reventón’s” excess heat grill at the car’s back end—with the Audiesque rear light LEDs and the fan incompletely hidden beneath the grill it looks a bit like from a computer casemod

My next example can not be explained away by the argument of in-house tradition. Here is a detail of an ingame screenshot made within the cutting-edge computer game Crysis, showing the “nanosuit” the player character wears:
 

Crysis nanosuit
 

Crysis nanosuit
 

The second picture is a detail of a promotional image, “explaining” the parts of the fictional nanosuit—mind the background. All in all the hexagon pattern is the dominant element of the overall graphical branding of the product—it is to be found everywhere: on the website, in logos, on the retail package, and the nanosuit trailer completely capitalizes on it.
 

So what is it with the hexagons as a design metaphor for highest-tech? Bionics again? This time not as a symbol for a technology set in the alternate Victorian reality of steampunk, which has not yet freed itself from the need to copy nature, but bionics as an approach symbolizing a technology which already is beyond the contemporary state-of-the-art, stoutly pointing to the future? Or has it nothing at all to do with bees, and the hexagonal tesselation has simply been chosen because it is the most complex looking of the three possible regular plane tilings?

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