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Archive for February 10th, 2011

Willie G. at Sturgis 2010

On any given Sunday, Willie G. Davidson, Harley-Davidson’s chief styling officer, rides his way out of West Juneau Avenue into the rolling hills near his home in Milwaukee, WI. A roadside coffee shop somewhere at the top serves as Mecca for the motorcycle enthusiast, and fertile ground for his design inspiration.

It’s a popular misconception that having an engineering background would be a big advantage designing motorcycles, but that’s not necessarily the case. In many ways, the requirements are quite different. The ability to get highly creative ideas down on paper fluidly is not something that can be easily taught and the rational approach of engineering may hamper more creative solutions at the early stages. It’s a lot easier to take an original sketch idea and seek to make it more practical than taking a mundane-but-feasible theme and try to inject some flair into it.

Given we’re about 5 months away from the 2012 new model launch, it’s likely that Willie G. and his team have placed the new design’s in the completion vault… where each aspect of the motorcycle has been so inexorably linked; its powertrain, aerodynamics, even its exhaust and sound system will all appear to not only speak the same language, but be having the same conversation… with the rider.

Paradise Pier at Disneyland

So, what does the unmistakable beanie-topped head of Willie G. do now?  I’m not talking Disneyland!

He prepped for the grueling days and workload as a judge at the EyesOn Design Awards.  A couple weeks ago Willie G. participated in a judging panel which included Chief Judges Jack Telnak, former Vice-President of Design for Ford and Tom Matano, Director of the Industrial Design program at Academy of Art University and former General Manager of Mazda Design.  It’s interesting that a hundred plus years after its birth, Harley-Davidson continues to hold the affection of academic leaders, motorcycle designers and renowned transportation design programs the world over.  Why?

But I’ve digressed.  The judges walked through the hall, considering their choices and then the EyesOn Design Award for Best Concept Vehicle, was awarded to the Porsche 918 RSR .

I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, but coincidently Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, son of Ferdinand ‘Ferry’ Anton Ernst Porsche, celebrated his 75th birthday during the EyesOn event AND it’s uncanny that Ferdinand who also founded the Porsche Design Studio in Stuttgart which collaborated with Harley-Davidson on the successful V-Rod watched Willie G. present to his company the award.

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