Post-war Oldsmobile print ads that ran with the glamorous new FUTURAMIC moniker, scroll down, show exactly how GM paid homage to other famous designer/artists of the era. This reality would have never left the dream phase if it wasn't for Designer-Earl who was the originator of GM's amazing new Styling Section. Harley Earl's string of successes allowed him the clout to cross pollinate all these wonderful contemporary works of art together in GM print ads that also buoyed up his industrial arts movement (automobile design profession) which was an all new form of self expression on the rise in America.
Elaborately illustrated in the driveway, directly below, is Jack Patrick's 30" x 40" painted canvas "Electric Blue Wildcat II" fusing Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater house with Harley Earl's Wildcat Two sports car.
The following two photos show Earl's ostentatious 1957 Wildcat dream car sporting two different over-the-top celebrity bling-bling wheels. Not surprisingly, this famed designer/visionary was first to have aluminum wheels as a feature on America's production automobiles so the masses could enjoy that "custom ride" feeling!
Take the Wheel, This Driveway Dream is Real!
The first featured Oldsmobile ad, below, illustrates an attractive design by Frank Lloyd Wright, then another one follows by the architect, Edward Stone. There are many more from this advertising campaign that ran in the late 1940s thru the early '50s.
No doubt, the main reason Harley Earl did this cross pollination was to further educate his clients (millions of American car consumers, and or, buyers of GM's illustrious products) on how his car designs were very similar in nature to how an architect designs the envelope of a house or building...just as the text in many of the advertisements attest.
Captivating styles done by Chiarelli and Kirk; notice cross promotion of modern architecture with GM's designer cars.
Futuramic car ad, above, selling "the dramatic design of the future" -- the finest of functional modern design...there's utility, as well as beauty...
A Florida home designed by architect Robert Law Weed shown above.
None of what you see here, while exploring these dazzling automotive ads of the 1950s, happened accidentally from an artistic standpoint. It was all part of a highly orchestrated marketing network originating from GM's Styling headquarters. And naturally, the person who was sitting atop of the pyramid - with entire artistic control, was none other than Harley Earl.
All of the American architectural designers whose work appeared alongside the many different Futuramic automobiles were contacted, ahead of time, by a Styling Section point man or woman (stylists) and asked if they wanted to participate - be named - in the print advertisements. They did not get paid anything, but knew they would naturally receive free publicity on a national level; which, to many of them, was better than getting paid in money. Most people had a general understanding of how prolific the print ads were by GM. At this time in history, this company was the largest advertiser in the world. You couldn't pick up a magazine and not see one.
Millions-upon-millions of print ads of this auto maker's products came out weekly in national magazines. Back in those days, a large number of the country's adults recognized and were completely sold on the elaborate messaging system that GM, or Earl and his style-crazed team, used to attract its clientele. It's impossible to make this all up, for a majority of GM's ads released into the market place, over a three decade (1930s-40s-50s) period, primarily marketed and promoted "Style" or advanced precepts of "Automotive Design." And by the 1950s, the very language-system had become the absolute standard in Detroit's auto world. For example, the vast majority of winning ads coming out of General Motors annually had the the trademark words "style" or "design" within each one. Again, this designology was the lexicon of the GM Styling Section directed under Harley Earl.
What's really unusual is how this methodology or actual paradigm did not exist in GM's ads before Harley Earl moved to Detroit. Styling and design were hardly ever mentioned in Motordom's ads prior to his involvement...and after Mr. Earl retired, the same thing started to happen. GM's next generation of advertisers cut back substantially on the potent "style" and "design" elixir. It's well known today that in the mid-1960s, surrounding the time Nadarism (much of what Ralph Nadar brought to the fore was not positive-having nothing to do with Safety) began infecting the auto industry like a scourge...Style and Design almost became dirty words that advertisers shied away from using and this entire area of good aesthetics blended in with quality designed products took a backseat to basic Functionalism.
But, this is all changing today...the pendulum is swinging back to how things should be in this business: Good Design and Styling precepts are now making a big comeback.
Overall design beauty of the OLDSMOBILE car styling studio is seen here during 1956 inception of the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.