· Book: The Pininfarina Book
· Author: Gunther Raupp
· Hardcover: 304 pages
· Publisher: teNeues Verlag GmbH + Co KG;
· Publication Date: (31 May 2015)
· Language: Multi-language edition, English
· ISBN-10: 3832732349
· ISBN-13: 978-3832732349
· Dimensions: 29.7 x 3.3 x 37.3 cm
· Price: $72.99 from Amazon-click here
Book Review by Wallace Wyss –
Industrial design is an odd business. Half of it is selling “smoke,” i.e. spinning dreams—a client comes to you and tells you what they want to build and you envision it for them with fancy drawings, presented over fancy lunches with drinks.
The Pininfarina Book
This book is heavy on the glam side of the business, showing the occasional work drawing, but not getting too much into the nuts and bolts (say the chassis design) of any one product.
It’s most a car book though, toward the end, it reminds you that Pininfarina designs offices, interiors, an even small objects like key fobs.
The author/photographer is one of the best automotive photographers in the world. I like him and I hate him because, while some of his work here is the best picture that could be taken of a specific car in terms of lighting and representing the car in its best angle, other photos are glammed up beyond all reason, with lens flares, backlighting, hyper realism, and what not, all needless to get the point across of what the car looks like.
It’s like he’s saying to other photographers–“don’t try to compete with me, I can shoot upside down and sideways.”
For a guy who I am presuming has been in the car photography business for a long time, it’s surprising to me that he fell for some clichés, such as the dark filter at the top of the sky (where have I seen skies that dark blue in real life?) and the HDR photography fad where the camera shoots three pictures almost simultaneously, one underexposed, one overexposed and the third right on and combines all three for a sort of 3D effect. (see footnote)**.
Both fads came and went in photography yet they mar his book a bit by being included.
In one particular photograph, I think is an HDR, everything is in focus from front to back and that’s annoying because, in real life, the way your eyes look at things your eye picks one object in the foreground and focuses on that and reduces the background in sharpness.
The paper is top notch, the best printing paper one can imagine and so is the printing the best you can imagine with some illustrations full bleed (image going right out to the edges of the paper, no border).
The book is quite sizable, and you need a big coffee table to rest it on when perusing it, in fact it’s almost too heavy to put in your lap.
The selection of cars is hit and miss—I like the historical beginning, particularly when they mention Leonardo da Vinci, as if to say Italy is the natural place you come for design. And then it goes into the family history with plenty of pictures of Battista Pininfarina, the founder, and his son Sergio. And then into their prewar cars which look good even today. But then it skips dozens of Ferraris (the brand I associate most with Pininfarina) and even includes some prototypes which I don’t think got much publicity such as one called the Grand Lusso on a BMW chassis.
Overall the book is like a giant sales brochure for Pininfarina. Oh, there’s interviews, but looking at the art, it’s like “we can do this and we can do that.”
Maybe the way I would have organized it was by company, i.e. Ferrari, Fiat, etc.
I am impressed by the architectural section though unsure of what they did (here’s where the occasional work sketch would help…) such as did they conceive the shape of the buildings or just decorate them? What stages did Pininfarina handle?
So in the end, this is a coffee table book that
1.) Sells Italian style
2.) Sells Pininfarina
3.) Gives you pictures of some of the world’s greatest car designs shot by one of the world’s best photographers.
Receiving these books as a reviewer, I don’t always have the price, but since it was advertised at 80 Pounds Sterling in the UK on Amazon.com I am presuming you would be lucky to find it in the $100-120 range in the U.S.
I think the fact that this book is published by an art book publisher who doesn’t usually do car books is very interesting because it reaches a little beyond car mechanicals, and doesn’t get bogged down by mechanicals of the cars. A description found on the net of the publisher is “teNeues Verlag is an international publishing house – with headquarters in Germany and subsidiaries in New York, London, Paris, Munich, etc. – mainly publishing calendars. Besides calendars, teNeues also publishes non-dated products as well as a comprehensive book program (life style, design, architecture etc).“
Still I can think of one great use for this book (besides mounting some of its pictures on the wall) and that is to give it to a young car enthusiast who is already drawing cars. I wager that he or she will think even more about becoming a car designer, with such magnificent illustrations before them.
Let us know what you think in the Comments.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of more than 18 automotive histories. His current series, Incredible Barn Finds, is available direct from the publisher, Enthusiast Books, at (715) 381 9755.
**From Stuckincustoms.com: “An HDR image is commonly made by taking three photos of the same scene, each at different shutter speeds. The result is a bright, medium, and dark photo, based on the amount of light that got through the lens. A software process then combines all the photos to bring details to the shadows and highlights both.”