DETROIT - The Lincoln display at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) communicates the reinvention of the Lincoln brand through a refined blend of art and design that showcases the ultimate expression of artistry: the Lincoln MKZ Concept car.
The nearly 18,000 square feet of space has been transformed into what looks and feels more like an elegant art gallery than an auto show stand.
According to Joe O’Connor, Lincoln Auto Show Experience manager, one aim of the display – dubbed the Lincoln Gallery – is to provide visitors with a unique experience of brilliant artistry.
“We wanted to positively disrupt the perception of Lincoln in the minds of our visitors,” he said. “We’re using artwork to create interest and intrigue.”
The experience begins when people enter the space.
The Lincoln star motif is engrained in a beautiful aluminum lattice that encompasses over 220 feet of the entrance area. Included in the lattice are vitrines that showcase the work of six local Detroit artists.
“We consulted with a local curator who selected the artists,” explained O’Connor. “They were chosen based on their unique artistic vision. They all use different types of materials and media to create special pieces of work that are open for interpretation in a number of different ways.”
The most striking pieces of art in the Lincoln Gallery are two magnificent spheres that flank the Lincoln MKZ Concept car. They were created by inventor Chuck Hoberman, who is internationally known for his “transformable structures.” Hoberman’s work has been seen everywhere from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics to U2’s 360-degree world tour.
The Hoberman Sphere is one of the artist’s best-known designs. For the Lincoln Gallery, Hoberman customized his iconic design and refined it with a more aerodynamic shape. Fabricated from milled aircraft-grade aluminum with a hand-brushed finish, each sphere is made up of 840 parts and weighs more than 300 pounds, yet it can expand from 4.5 feet to 15 feet in less than three seconds.
“Hoberman has really created a unique mechanically-based piece of work that is both simplistic and elegant in its design,” said O’Connor. “The way that it grows and comes to life and transforms is really symbolic to Lincoln as we transform and reinvent the brand.”
The movement of the Hoberman spheres is timed to the music and the lighting in the Lincoln Gallery.
“They continue to evolve and transform and take on a life of their own within the stand,” said O’Connor. “It all fits. It is all about artistic interpretation and design and the new direction where Lincoln is headed.”
Hoberman says he had many discussions with the Lincoln team and the creative agency Imagination before finalizing the idea to use the engaging spheres in the Lincoln display.
“There was a basic architectural design and space for art and so we quickly gravitated towards envisioning these two spheres. And then there were a lot of conversations about what qualities we wanted them to have and the types of finishes,” said Hoberman. “So we ended up going towards this polished brushed aluminum finish with very rounded forms to create a sense that these sculptures are not super hard-edged but more organic and flower-like.”
Part of the artistry, says Hoberman is in the quality of the movement of the spheres.
“We look at the smoothness, the speed, the trajectory, the dynamics of it,” he said. “And it gives the opportunity for our sculptures then to live in the overall environment of the Lincoln stand.”
The spheres are controlled relative to man-programmable elements in the display – LED screens, music and lighting – which enhance the experience.
“At the end of the day, all of that complexity, all of that technology is really going towards something that we hope is a very simple experience, a very direct experience, one that when somebody comes into the display there’s just a sense of awe,” said Hoberman. “It is calm, colorful and vibrant all at the same time.”
O’Connor says the spheres provide the perfect setting for the focal point of the display: the Lincoln MKZ Concept car.
“The Lincoln auto show experience is really a beautiful choreography of light and sound and artistry and the Hoberman spheres provide the real theatrics as they work off each other,” he said. “As the musical composition begins to gain momentum and the spheres begin working closely together, it all ends in a final cascade where the focus is clearly on the MKZ Concept and all of its glory representing the reinvention of Lincoln.”