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Starting Out: CDN launches Car Design Glossary
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Drawing is the basic language of designers, and is the time-honoured way in which a designer will communicate an idea. However, designers are often required to describe or explain their designs - and the work of others - in words, and for this, they need a vocabulary. The vocabulary they use is one whose origins stretch back to another era and to different disciplines, and which, with the now multi-cultural nature of the profession and advances in computer technology, is still growing.

David Browne, Course Director of Automotive Design at Coventry University School of Art & Design, has therefore set out to compile a definitive glossary of terms as an academic piece of research and has teamed up with CDN to help generate feedback on these terms from designers themselves. For instance, when does a feature line become a crease line? The terms are used somewhat indiscriminately but there should be a correct definition of some authority by now. Also, many studios have their own set of terms that are unique to that group of designers and modelers - how have these terms come about?

There is a suggestion that this language and its vocabulary was deliberately evolved to exclude 'outsiders'.  If that were so, it would have been entirely consistent with the almost guild-like - and necessarily secret - nature of creating and developing high-investment future products in a highly-competitive environment.

While designers have evolved a vocabulary-based language to enable them to communicate with one another, the products of their creativity and skills are speaking another powerful, silent language of their own, loaded with symbolism, which the consumer certainly is intended to understand - or respond to at least - and which is aimed squarely at their psyche, their aspirations - and ultimately their wallets.

Motoring journalists Peter Robinson and the late Russell Bulgin were perhaps the first writers to champion design, the role of designers, and to employ their terminology and expressions within their writing. Some years later, as this language is more routinely brought into the public domain via the media, it becomes increasingly important for those hoping for a career in automotive design, or those wishing to describe the products of the designer's imagination, to acquire a correct working knowledge and understanding of it. 

That is what this Glossary sets out to provide.

Car Design Glossary - Part 1

Car Design Glossary - Part 2

These are the first installments of an ongoing Glossary that will be extended in the future. You can discuss, give feedback and suggest terms that should be included in the Glossary in the Forums

You can also send feedback to David directly:
David Browne
Course Director, Automotive Design
School of Art & Design, Coventry University, UK
Email: d.browne@coventry.ac.uk