Andrea Pininfarina, managing director of the Pininfarina design house, has been killed when knocked off his Vespa on his way to work. Andrew was the grandson of Battista Pininfarina, who founded the most prolific and respected automotive design house the world has yet seen. The world we live in would not look the same without Pininfarina. Just to mention a few, the Fiat 125 Spider, the FIat Dino Spider, Ferrari Daytona, Ferrari 308 and 328, Testarossa, 348, 354, 550, 575, 360, Enzo, 599, the Series 3 XJ6 and the Xj220, the Alfa 164, and many others. Since automotive styling is not merely a responsive school, but itself takes part in setting trends, we wouldn’t have the same clothing or interior design if it were not for some of these cars. And since many of these cars, by their looks, convey strong emotions, we would not live in the same emotive world without them either.
At Pininfarina, designs are not composed by individuals but rather they are the product of the house as a whole (this is very different from how Jaguars have been traditionally styled, originally by the Lord himself, and more recently by a design team led strongly by Ian Callum), and one consequence of this is the Management plays a stronger role in choosing which designs see the light of day. This means the managing director has real artistic control, and therefore influence both into the design language of motor cars and by proxy, the design languages influenced by the style of motor cars.
It is unlikely that Andrea Pininfarina’s death will be marked on the news tonight, but it would be appropriate for anyone to reflect on this marked day on the extent to which Pininfarina bodywork has shaped their understanding of style and design.