The Petersen Auto Museum is known for being a pillar of automotive history, design, and education. The museum showcases a variety of historically significant vehicles, offers educational and interactive exhibits, and provides visitors with automotive entertainment and information.
One of the newer exhibitions on display at the Petersen Auto Museum is known as the Disruptors Exhibit.
Designed by Rem D. Koolhaas and Joey Ruiter
This exhibit features the work of Rem D. Koolhaas (the nephew of famed architect Rem Koolhaas) and Joey Ruiter. These two conceptual designers are known as the Disruptors due to the way that their ideas and approaches can disrupt the conventional understanding or perception of objects – in this case, vehicles.
The Disruptors exhibit has allowed both of these designers the opportunity to develop a vision of different minimalistic, functional concepts for cars. While the two have their own unique perspective on minimalism, their separate ideas complement each other.
The two designers aim to help strip away expectations and conformity from everyday products. They do this by providing minimalist alternatives for all manner of day-to-day products, ranging from shoes to furniture to cars.
Joey Ruiter is from Michigan who is known for prioritizing aesthetics in his product designs – even if this sometimes means a reduction in user comfort or functionality. This allows him to fully express his designs without having to worry about things like ergonomics.
Joey Ruiter has made a fairly big name for himself, and his known for his design style. He has produced furniture, bikes, boats, skateboards, motorcycles, and cars for many large American companies.
Rem D. Koolhaas
Rem D. Koolhaas hails from the Netherlands and now resides in Los Angeles. Koolhaas is the founder and Creative Director of UNITED NUDE, a company that is recognized as being the world leader in architectural footwear.
UNITED NUDE, a company that defines itself as “downsizing architecture to its smallest and most vulnerable scale,” has created some controversy. Koolhaas – who was trained as an architect prior to entering the footwear business – and his architectural footwear have sparked conversations regarding what constitutes the definition of architectural.
His designs span beyond simple footwear, however. He has used his architectural background to create minimalist vehicles with his 3D Lo Res design method.
These two minimalist designers have a unique opportunity to expose the barriers (and, in some cases, limitations) that comprise the standard manufacturing processes.
Manufacturing methods are generally reached as a result of production, costs, and available resources. Koolhaas and Ruiter are able to challenge the established norms by significantly reducing or outright eliminating design complexity.
Without significantly reducing function, this has allowed their designs to provide alternatives that could change the way that designers and manufacturers produce their goods. In addition, Ruiter and Koolhaas clearly show that there is rarely a definable line separating technology and art.
Terry L. Karges, the Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director, says that “Disruptors is a critical analysis on how two designers with backgrounds in fashion, architecture, and industrial design have come to perceive the automobile.”
He continues to say that the exhibit is very much unlike any of the other ones that they’ve showcased. Rather than displaying significant, impressive, or intriguing vehicles, the Disruptors exhibit challenges the very perception of what a vehicle can be. The exhibit is also highly unconventional, especially when compared to Petersen’s previous exhibits.
An Increasingly Disruptive Society
One of the reasons that the Petersen Auto Museum is featuring the work of these two designers is because of an ever-increasing demand in modern society for minimalistic work.
Progressive, spiritual, and contemporary art often tends to focus on reductionism and minimalism. Modern society has a love for simplicity, and Koolhaas and Ruiter have a unique opportunity to provide society with simple solutions and designs for otherwise complex creations.
Furthermore, the sheer simplicity of the pair’s designs could provide solutions to a number of manufacturing problems. Complex designs require complex production methods. Conversely, simplified designs will generally require much less complexity.
Features in the Disruptors Exhibit
There are a few vehicles and designs featured in the Disruptors Exhibit that stand out among the rest.
Low Res Car
Koolhaas’ Low Res Car, which he designed in 2015, can be considered the main feature of the entire exhibit. The sleek, dark vehicle seems to hover in the middle of the exhibition’s space and is a daunting expression of functional simplicity.
The vehicle – and the same-sized mirrored sculpture that sits next to it – were both designed using the same process that Koolhaas first employed in 2008 to make his architectural shoes.
To do this, he took a 3-D scan of a model-sized Lamborghini Countach. He then reduced the resolution, reducing the car’s outline until nothing but the most basic shape remains. At the exhibit, you can see a display case with a number of scale models of the Countach set next to each other in decreasing resolution.
The Reboot Buggy is the brainchild of Ruiter and is one of the most thought-provoking models on display at the Exhibit. This vehicle looks like a stretched-out version of a standard dune buggy mixed with an equestrian Amish horse-and-buggy.
The thought process behind the creation of the Reboot Buggy gives some insight into the creative mind of Ruiter. Ruminating on the classic horse-and-buggy, he inquired what would become of the vehicle if the horse were to leave.
“Just a buggy,” he says, further commenting that “the horse wasn’t designed for us to ride. It just wants to eat grass.” Taking this idea further, he asked, “what does the automobile want to be for itself?”
In short, the Reboot Buggy is an interpretation of what Ruiter believes a car would want to be if it wasn’t developed just to serve humans. He believes that a vehicle would want to be lightweight, be capable of traversing all types of terrain, and be efficient.
The Disruptors Exhibit is a thought-provoking commentary on minimalism that could change the way that auto manufacturers think about vehicle production. At the very least, it serves as an interesting meditation on simplicity and function.