Today is Syd Mead’s birthday. You may not know his name, but you’ve definitely seen his work. Syd Mead is one of the most celebrated concept designers of our time, and has been responsible for many memorable designs – from feature films to concept cars, even exhibits and interiors. His style is lush with often-fantastical mechanized vehicles and devices or high-tech interiors offset by being placed in a natural environment. His most well known works include production design for Blade Runner, Aliens and, of course, TRON. Most recently he worked on the Matt Damon film Elysium.
In 1988, he also shared his vision of future Los Angeles (CommonGround’s home town) in the far off year of 2013, commissioned for an article in the LA Times Magazine. The article predicted a mandatory staggered work plan for Los Angeles, personalized newspapers printed by laser-jet printer, home robots with synthesized Southern drawls, school desks with built in CD-ROM’s and the staple of all predictions of the future—the computerized refrigerator. I don’t remember my home robot saying “Y’all come back now, ya here!” when I left the house this morning. Come to think of it I don’t remember having a home robot at all.
Other predictions were less tech-related. The article discussed a housing and school shortage for LA, along with new skyscrapers and urban renewal in downtown, all of which is coming to pass. The future doesn’t look quite as cool as Syd Mead’s designs predicted, perhaps, but his influence can be felt when you see giant video billboards at LA Live or a rendering of the completed Wilshire Grand Tower.
Happy Birthday, Syd! We look forward to many more years of your visionary design work.