Running of The 200th KD, 1975 (All images courtesy Bravin Lee Programs)
Syd Mead might have one of the coolest jobs on the planet. He’s a visual futurist, and it’s his job is to imagine what the future will look like and to paint it. Over the last fifty years, companies like Ford, Sony and Phillips Electronics have turned to Syd to illustrate future visualizations their products. Syd’s unique vision of the future caught the eye of Hollywood, and in the 1980s Ridley Scott asked Syd to work on concept designs for his famous sci-fi noir film Blade Runner. Syd went on to work on designs for TRON, James Cameron’s Aliens, Mission Impossible 3 and more.
Future Rolls Royce, 1967
Hypervan – Crimson, 2003
Syd got his start working at Ford Motors Advanced Styling Studio in the early 1960s, a time when the future was all about the American automobile. Transportation has been a theme throughout Syd’s work. He designed the Spinner Cars in Blade Runner, a custom 747 for the king of Saudi Arabia (yes he really did that, and no he didn’t get to ride in the plane), and has even invented his own vehicles like the sleek, chrome Hypervan, which appears in many of his newer paintings.
Spinner Car, 1981
A career spanning collection of Syd’s gauche on board paintings are on view now at Bravin Lee programs through June 30th in a show called Syd Mead Future (Perfect). The show includes early designs, like a Future Rolls Royce from 1967, examples of his work on Blade Runner, and some of his most famous futurescapes.
I spoke with Syd over the phone about how he got his start as a designer, his experience working on Blade Runner and what it means to make a “future proof” design.
Disaster at Syntron, 1978
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