Syd Mead

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Syd Mead (born July 18, 1933) is an industrial designer best known for his vehicle designs in science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Aliens, and Tron. In much of his film work, he is billed as a "visual futurist" or "conceptual designer".


  • The fashionable ideology that "artificial" lacks the inherent goodness of "natural" is an appealing, but hopelessly simplistic notion of the intellectually chic. Artifice is the result of a deliberate intent to make. Nature also "makes" things, using a set of basic building blocks common throughout the universe. Exchanging infinite time for deliberate design, nature has ingeniously built plants, planets, galaxies and unimaginable constructs which seem to structure the universe itself. What we call "natural" is simply the result of whatever set of rules nature has followed in fashioning our observable reality. On planet Earth, nature has manipulated the common elements to fashion everything from bacteria to the molten core of the planet. Discoveries in the "nano" technologies of bio, molecular, and micro engineering will re-edit the nomenclature of "natural" versus "unnatural", blurring if not erasing the line of distinction between "machine" and "organism", "natural" and "unnatural", "God-given" and "man-made".
    • Future Concepts: The World of Syd Mead, p.15, Car Styling Magazine 088, May 1992
  • First, have a grasp of context, detail and the rationale which makes design and image-making worthwhile to yourself and commercially, to someone else. Try not to become a "linear" professional. Learn a variety of technique, of thinking methodology and most of all, don't become complacent. Honestly, I get scared shitless every time I start a new, big job. I read, I gather information and push the client to tell me what they want. (Sometimes they really don't know, and those jobs are usually nightmares!) Remember details, notice how people move, how sunlight cascades over moving objects, why foliage looks the way it does (it's nature's own fractal magic) and how come velvet has about the same range of value as metallic surfaces but one is soft and the other is brittle. And finally, don't assume that technique alone will save your ass. It still is the idea that wins...every time. Remember that elaborate technique and dumb story produces a demo reel, not a narrative.
    • A Visionary Ethic: The Life and Work of Syd Mead, p.3, OuterCircle 9, Fall 2006
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