The Ferrari 288 GTO was released around 1984. I was probably about 7 or 8 when I first noticed this car in a book I checked out from the library. I always idealized that car.
It was Ferrari’s top of the line supercar, built to compete in the old Group B race series. It was both more muscular and more simple than the Ferrari Testarossa of the same era. The Testarossa was more in-your-face, whereas the 288 GTO was classic and clean. To me, it was quintessential Ferrari, the iconic sports car. I thought, I want to grow up and design something like that. And that’s where it all started.
I was always an artistic kid, but it wasn’t about fine arts for me. I started designing all my school’s t-shirts and yearbooks. My favorite things to draw were architecture floor plans, vehicles, aircrafts and gadgets. For me it was all about getting to design. It was very rare that I drew living things, for instance. I took all the art classes, but mostly I drew cars, or made sci fi-style weapons that I created out of cardboard and tape.
A huge part of it for me was the excitement of imagining the things that I drew becoming actual objects in the physical world. Whenever I was just drawing or painting for the sake of doing it, it was never real enough. It didn’t feel real to me. I didn’t relate to it.
But if I was drawing something that was an actual tangible thing that you could do something with, that was cool. Rather than it being an expression of something personal, it was more about what it could do. And figuring that out.
Ferraris are typically flamboyant, in-your-face designs. The 288 GTO was different in that it was much more subdued and and subtle in its design. Which is what I strive to incorporate into my product designs. I still like simplicity, but I like subtle details that really give the product a little bit of personality. The subtleties of a product are what draw me in and make me fall in love with the product and process.
It’s a difficult balance to design something to be simple, yet have a personality. It’s part of the design struggle. Clients want something different and new, and yet familiar enough for the marketplace. This challenge, which entails constant problem-solving, keeps product development fresh and exciting.
It’s something that is difficult to master as a design student. Like anything else, it takes time. It’s something that I’ve built up in my professional practice and always strive to incorporate into my work.
I wanted to be an industrial designer literally as long as I can remember. That’s why I associate the Ferrari 288 GTO with what I’m doing today. I think it’s pretty unusual for a kid as young as I was then to become interested in this field. I feel fortunate that cars like the GTO and my dad’s architecture background exposed me to industrial design at such a young age.