- Tesla’s Cybertruck has provoked a polarizing reaction to its exotic design.
- The electric-car company’s first pickup truck is radical, but it also signals artistic growth for the designer Franz von Holzhausen.
- Von Holzhausen has created a beautiful and durable design language for Tesla vehicles, but he was falling into an aesthetic rut.
- The Cybertruck resets the story, and even advances it. For von Holzhausen, it’s a breakthrough.
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Before the reveal of Tesla’s outrageous Cybertruck, the company’s head designer was known for elegance and restraint.
Franz von Holzhausen’s calling card was that at Tesla he hadn’t created wild, futuristic vehicles that evoked spaceships or impossible constructions of curves and contorted lines. The Model S in particular was a subdued masterpiece that’s held up fantastically well since its introduction in 2012. It was a perfectly normal-looking all-electric sedan that nonetheless made you want to keep looking at it. It should have been boring, but it wasn’t. It was captivating.
Few car designers have achieved this: Alec Issigonis with the original Mini, Malcolm Sayer with the Jaguar E-Type, Henrik Fisker with the Aston Martin DB9.
When Tesla rolled out its new Roadster a few years ago, you could see von Holzhausen extending himself but not going crazy.
Likewise with the Model Y crossover, which very clearly represented von Holzhausen sticking to the core visual vocabulary he had made into his own language.
But the Cybertruck — wow! No one expected anything even remotely like it from the dignified von Holzhausen. Though the design is controversial, I think it’s a wonderful move for Tesla and for von Holzhausen. The brand was running the risk of falling into a rut. In the car business, there’s a simple dictum that says it all: “Show them the car.”
What that means is that the physical fact and impression of the vehicle is the fundamental. If people don’t respond to your design, positively or negatively, then you’ve failed.
So the Cybertruck is a breakthrough for von Holzhausen. Here’s why: