General Motors Styling presents, “The Look of Things”

1950s mystery GM renderingI saw this YouTube-sourced video linked on another website and found it really fascinating. It runs about sixteen and a half minutes, during which it shows some great shots from inside the styling studios and explains how the design process of the mid 1950s generally worked.

Gotta love the harp and angelic female harmonizing for background music.

I’m not sure exactly which year this awkwardly-titled movie short was made. The person who shared it on YouTube, under mrpitv, states in his title that it is from 1953. But I only came across one reference to it on the internet which states it is from 1955.

That happens to be the same year that GM put out a color booklet under a similar name (Styling the Look of Things), with content similar to the movie. So, I’m open to changing the title if anyone has anymore information on this they’d like to share but I’m leaning towards 1955.

In any event, the movie pays quite the homage to the stylist, rightfully portraying it as a profession to aspire towards, at least for those that feel the calling. In the movie, we’re provided a description of traits a candidate stylist might exhibit at a young age. It goes on to outline possible educational and career paths said person might follow to one day hold the vaunted responsibility of designing tomorrows cars. That is, again, if you’ve got the talent.

It starts out a little psychedelic in my opinion (maybe they were just 15 years ahead of their time?) and starts out by defining art and beauty. By around the five-minute mark, the narrative finally hones in on automotive styling and seems to only get better as it progresses.

There are a few designs that were shown, possibly coincidentally as the spokesman hinted at future possibilities, that appear to lend features to production models from the next half century or so.

1950s mystery GM renderingOne example is at the 12:30 mark, when the announcer says, “Left to himself, [the stylist’s] mind refuses to rest. Ideas flow through his fingertips out of nowhere, into reality. Actually, this is a process of apparently aimless thinking on paper and, from it, he and his brother stylists, when left to themselves, may turn out a design of the future of no apparent value today. Yet a turn of its fender or a curve of its body may be a solution to a knotted problem of design that’s just around the corner.”

1950s mystery GM rendering 2 closeupWhile the announcer is finishing those words, some doors open behind which a rendering is shown (above left) that immediately struck me as Cadillac’s legendary 1959 front end, which was naturally yet years away.

Of note, however, are apparent blue bowties (right) below what appear to be concealed headlamps.

1950s mystery GM rendering 2 rearThe next clip is of a guy working on space-age looking artwork with the rear of a futuristic looking car (left) that, again, struck me as that of the 1959 Cadillac’s. Towering tail fins and all!

As the announcer said, “a turn of its fender or a curve of its body…”

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.



Photo and video credit: mrpitv, via YouTube