We took the opportunity to visit the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan a couple of weeks ago. And I thought I’d share with you some of the things we found interesting there.
Auto shows are great venues to see the latest trends not only in-car design but also in color, textures, materials. And the cars are not the only attraction. For retail designers there are plenty of great displays and exhibits to get inspiration from.
If you can’t make it to Detroit, which is the premiere show in the U.S., visit one of the other big shows such as New York, L.A. or Chicago if you can. Otherwise find a show near you. The auto show in Cleveland is one of the largest in the country, and many of the cars and displays from the big name shows can be seen just up the road from us, here in Northeast Ohio.
Observations from Detroit:
- hybrids and electric cards are becoming mainstream, and the design of their charging stations it unique opportunity for branding and design
- matte paint finishes continue to trend. Volvo and Mercedes had a lot of matte cars
- interactive kiosks were everywhere, even replacing the static info boards by the cars on display. (Also you can find them in car dealerships, by the way – was in a Jeep dealer this past weekend and they had kiosks all over)
- the design of exhibits seemed heavy on hospitality with nice desks, benches and seating areas, including benches with tablets and headphones for listening to music
- the Buick display stood out for its use of fine finishes and curves. Lots of curves and attention to details
- great graphic design on display, both in exhibits and on cars
- large video walls were prominently used. Infiniti, Scion and Chevrolet in particular. You could see through Chevy’s LED video walls.
Need a break? These benches in the Volvo area had tablets and headphones so you could listen to music.
BMW had bold graphics to go along with its bold cars.
Great shape and form on this Maserati tail light.
This Mini concept car oozed details, such as these Union Jack tail lights.
I driverless car from Mercedes was interesting. Especially the front grill.
Bench design in general was pretty innovative at the show. This one is on brand with BMW’s i-series of hybrids.
Love this color combo on this Mini
This roving tablet robot was in the VW pavilion. It would sneak up behind you and you could carry on a conversation with it. Cute.
High visual impact graphics in the Nissan booth
Bands rising up, like this one in Buick, to create a bench or other feature were common.
The curves of the Buick pavilion.
Mine did a great job recreating a racing venue for it’s cars. Excellent attention to detail put guests in the mood. This is retail experience.
This is a fun little Fiat in powder blue.
My favorite bar stool for retail.
Details is the name of the game in the auto world. Here we see ‘Jaguar’ debased in this side vent.
My favorite exhibit was the Buick stand. A ton of curves and incredible finishes. The attention to detail was great.
My favorite kiosk because of the wood accents. This is an Acura stand.
Infinity was all video wall. Pretty impressive.
The BMW i8 was beautiful to see in person.
The new Ford GT, with its flying buttresses, was a delight to see.
Alfa combines product and history, staying on brand with touches of red and black.
Love the simplicity of the 911 Targa stage from Porsche. A great mix of product, brand and video conveying emotion. I’d have bought one if I had the money.
With the prevalence of electric cars comes an army of branded car chargers. Here VW mimics a gas pump for a tongue in cheek nod at gas powered cars, for it’s charging station.
The Ford pavilion is the highlight of the show because of its sheer size and scope.
Buick having fun with their color selection chart.
The Land Rover material and color selection tables were great. Pull out drawers with video.
Local Motors had a 3-D printed card demonstration at the show.
Volvo had a very hospitable exhibition featuring several cars with matte paint finishes.
Auto shows like Detroit offer a multitude of display examples that designers can draw inspiration from.