The Thinking Behind Today’s DnA

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Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept design and teamI owe today’s show to chance meetings with other people. Why do I say this? Because a couple weeks back I met a young designer who asked me to explain in this blog how I select the topics for shows.

In brief, generally my co-producers and I look for design stories that are tied to current events, have a compelling design and human storyline while reinforcing the essential belief that design matters. We also tend to look for design stories that are located in, or relevant to, Los Angeles, and we mostly cover contemporary, innovative design.

So the show is tied to the LA Auto Show that starts the day after it broadcasts. Rather than do an overview of all the cars on display, we chose instead to look at one aspect of the Auto Show: the “concept” cars created by top car designers who work for large auto companies in discreet design studios in Los Angeles.

Specifically we looked at Cadillac’s Urban Luxury Concept car, above, and the thinking behind a baby version of America’s largest, flashiest car. We heard from Design Manager Niki Smart (shown, far right, in GM picture above of the concept car and design team) about the life of these car-mad designers working in these highly secretive design studios (we couldn’t even show a picture of the concept until the embargo was lifted on the car’s unveiling).

But this is where the other people come in. We were able to do this story in large part because I met Niki a few months ago, introduced to me by a mutual friend Edie Pereira who thought I should meet this car designer. Thank you, Edie. The story also incorporated the voices of some New Roads Highschoolers, in a voxpop of impressions of the Cadillac. I know these students through teaching them once a week about radio and happened to be with them right before the GM studio visit. So thanks to Camilia Alavi, Daniel Bernstein, Jocelyne Bonilla-Mendoza, Abraham Bran, Elisabeth Chubb, Samaria Gomez, Sayda Sosa and Zoe Tambling, for offering their voices to the program.

<!-- missing image -->As for the powerful story about the new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (seen from above in photo, right, by the architects). I was already interested in this building, for its contents and purpose (LAMOTH owns over 3000 artifacts relating to the Third Reich and the genocide) and its intriguing architecture by Hagy Belzberg.

But then I happened to be at lunch on Beverly Boulevard opposite Pan Pacific Park with LACMA curator Bobbye Tigerman (discussing a panel we are collaborating on this coming Thursday evening) and I mentioned that I wanted to go visit the Museum in the park. She told me it was co-founded by her grandfather! I would never have known about her family connection to LAMOTH but for this chance conversation. Her voice on the show today added a powerful dimension to an already compelling story about using design to help convey the story of the Holocaust to visiting high schoolers .

Beijing trafficAs for Paul Taylor, I read in China Daily about the newly formed LA-Beijing alliance and its shared efforts to reduce traffic. I then chose to include it on the show partly because it was a counterpoint to the idea posited in the concept Cadillac segment, namely, that the solution to congested cities is to drive smaller cars. But I also chose it because Beijing was on my mind, having visited there for the first time in September and experienced the utterly horrendous traffic that, with 2000 new cars being registered daily, has turned Beijing from a city of bicylists into a choking, smog-drenched, parking lot. Besides, I loved the irony of an alliance being formed between LA, the capital of cars and with commerce, and Beijing, the capital, at least formerly, of communism and bicycles.

So I hope this answers the young designer’s question about DnA content. And if you have anything you want to draw my attention to, write me at, or comment here.