from USA

Chevy's (Design) Chase

Designer Brian Nesbitt--the 32-year-old hotshot who penned the phenomenally hot
PT Cruiser--has defected from Chrysler to Chevrolet, raising eyebrows in the industry.

"[Chrysler executives] recognized the importance of product and design,
making sure passion and emotion were involved," explains industry analyst Wes Brown. GM, on the other hand, is renowned for consistently producing designs stifled by a suffocating bureaucracy of design-by-committee. "It's going to take a radical philosophical change at GM to allow [Nesbitt] to have the freedom he once had at Chrysler," says Brown.

"[GM] is a much bigger boat with a lot more opportunities," says Nesbitt, explaining the jump. "Chevrolet! I mean, it's one of the best brands in the world."

Not right now it ain't, but let's see what this kid can do.

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Do Not Pass Go

The new hot chair: Welsh industrial designer Ross Lovegrove's "Go." The $750 magnesium stacking chair, 18 months in development, is expected to sell more than 10,000 units a year for manufacturer Bernhardt Design.

The bigwigs at Bernhardt approached Lovegrove with the intent of becoming a design powerhouse, and thus far it's working; "Go" made a splash at the ICFF, and has popped up in magazines ranging from fashion-industry-standard Vogue to urban-subcultural Surface. The MoMA store has started selling it.

Why magnesium? The original plan was to make the chair from aluminum, but the prototype tipped the scales at a whopping twenty pounds. Using magnesium, a lighter alloy, shaved it down to 15.

Still not exactly light, and it definitely ain't cheap: stack four of these chairs, we're talking $3,000 and 60 pounds. Heavy lifting, and costs more than a gym membership. Still, hot is hot.


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Just A Mir Trend?

Plundering workers from overseas--tech workers from India, for example--has long been a United States tradition. One that has finally crossed over, it seems, to design.

Designers and engineers from Russia's aerospace industry are highly regarded, yet earn as little as $200 to $500 a month in their home country. Thus, U.S. aerospace giant Boeing has begun poaching Soviet talent.

"They know things that we don't," said Hank Queen, Boeing VP of Engineering, commenting on the Soviet knack for fresh design perspectives. As an example, Russian designers recently created, for Boeing, a new overhead beam that supports the storage bins in an airplane. The old beam required 18 hours of hand assembly; the new one is machine-made in under an hour.

Boeing's Moscow Design Center, with a current staff of 650 designers and engineers, is planning on doubling the size of the design department this year. "We will bury you," exclaimed a Russian designer. Okay, just kidding about that last part.

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