How Detroit's Garden Grew

Design was the driving force behind GM's explosive market share rise from the 1930s to the '60s.

Design was the driving force behind GM's explosive market share rise from the 1930s to the '60s.

Pages here from comprehensive magazine article on GM by LIFE, 1951, 

Modern Art of Industry

The Keeper of the Flame has to lighten up! 

As the father of the car design profession in America, Harley Earl (HJE) was the first person to bridge the art world to mass production in the auto industry. He called it, “the Modern Art of Industry.” Through his studio doors rolled the cars that would ignite a nation's love affair with the automobile, establishing Detroit as the auto design capital of the world, creating a huge contemporary art market, and enabling the auto industry to become mid-twentieth-century America’s economic backbone. His accolades are as numerous as they are diverse: inventing the concept car, being the first to use full-size clay modeling, fathering the Corvette, hiring and advancing women car designers, first autonomous cars, creating the landmark Auto Design Scholarship program, and supplying the car design curriculum to such universities as Art Center College of Design and Pratt Institute.  

Enduring quotes on Harley Earl's Automobile Design Profession (ADP) legacy:

Leslie M. Kendall is the chief curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum: "This booklet (for the museum's 2005 car design exhibition, Driving Through Futures Past: Mid-20th Century Auto Design) is dedicated to the memory of Harley J. Earl, one of the most hotly collected artists of the 20th Century." 

Bob Lutz, former GM vice chairman interviewed on CBS's 60 Minutes in 2006: "During the parade of GM’s greatness, in the 50s and 60s, Design Ruled and the finance people ran behind to try to reestablish order and pick up the pieces. We just lost the focus on Design."

ZDNET.com's Harley Earl's Influence on Steve Jobs article by Oliver Marks: "The initial designated head of Design at General Motors, later becoming vice president, the first top executive ever appointed in design of a major US corporation. His importance in US business history cannot be overstated, with many parallels to the way Steve Jobs' leadership's blend of aesthetics, marketing, and technology blazed a trail of innovation.... GM still has a fabulous legacy to build on as it finds its footing after its bankruptcy. It's ironic that many of Apple's market successes are arguably based on business concepts that it (GM) chose to discard."

This website's mission is to also provide missing historical information in order to help America's auto capital position itself for a repeat performance whereby becoming a world leader in design and innovation heading into the future (2020 and beyond). A total re-examination of the area that spearheaded General Motors becoming the largest company of the 20th Century is not only a natural step in the right direction, but one that allows this industry to come full circle again. 

HJE's Independent Design Firm 

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