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“Design is a long, messy process involving many people, most of whom are never ever given the least bit of publicity. The guy at the top and in charge, rightfully or not, usually gets the credit or blame but he/she could never function without the legions of talented people actually producing the work. What I like about Dean’s Garage is the fact that it actually brings the unsung genius of this previously unseen resource to the light of day.

“Inspiration doesn’t often manifest itself in a napkin sketch that goes straight to the road, but rather through the hundreds of work-a-day drawings.”—Allan Flowers

My friend Allan Flowers was gracious to provide highlights of his GM artwork for Dean’s Garage. I worked next to Allan in Buick I Studio. I was impressed then as I still am today in his ability to create impressive design concepts that would require the minimum of interpretation by managers or sculptors. His understanding of form is impressive. At NDI, Allan was able to express fully his understanding of form through Alias. Watch for a future post that will feature some of his work while at Nissan Design International.

Be sure to check out DG’s first post featuring Al’s design work.

Allan’s career:

  • 1958-62 participant in Fisher Body Craftsmans Guild (highest placement, 4th National/Senior, 1962)
  • 1964 Graduate of Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology
  • 1964-1980 GM Design Staff: Buick, Chevy, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and several Advanced Studio assignments. 1975-1980 Assistant Chief Designer: Buick I Studio & Advanced I Studio
  • 1980-1990 Chief Designer (Blue Studio) Nissan Design International (Now Nissan Design America), 1990-2005, Assistant to the President / Manager of Product Design
  • 2001-2004 Manager of Nissan Design Lab at Academy of Art University, San Francisco
  • Retired from NDA 2005,  Currently active on personal design projects and a judge at the Santa Fe Concorso, NM

14 Comments
  1. Joe Gagan

    Genius. An overused word but in Allan’s case completely appropriate.
    Gary, I peeked at a lot of the pictures before reading your lovely tribute, I had noticed exactly what you referred to, it is apparent in his work that it would be uncommonly easy to interpret even the most subtle of his ideas, thanks to his mastery of form and super clean execution.
    Eye candy, I will be looking at these for months. Thank you Allan F.

  2. E55

    So many of those images are recognizable – even if the designer tools in relative anonymity! Thanks for another great post.

  3. Tony Miller

    Beautiful drawing technique. He draws real cars that just don’t exist yet.

  4. Wayne

    Allan certainly knows how to render cars in an impactful exciting way!
    Loved looking at them.

    Wayne

  5. Jay

    Wow! Truly one of the greatest automobile designers. It was hard for me to find an image I didn’t like and easy to see design elements of so many production cars. Beautiful execution! Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Leon Dixon

    This is truly exciting stuff. When I was growing up in Detroit’s heyday, the design work here was the kind of exciting optimism for the future that made it all so wonderful. Regardless of what big guy up top may have been getting accolades, It was always so magical to see the individual designers putting their thoughts and dreams down on paper. And then unleash and share the magic.

    Of course the best of these, like Allan Flowers, could intoxicate a viewer with their dreams merely by looking at an illustration that could somehow leap from a flat piece of paper into a 3-Dimensional real automobile–if only in thought. This kind of imagination and talent–to capture a thought in an image on paper… and then transmit that thought to the viewer–is every bit as magnificent to me as a great work of literature. But then to have the viewer expand on that image in their own mind is the most beautiful, infectious condition imaginable.

    Thank you for sharing these thrilling images!

  7. steve sicklick

    Allan Flowers was able to bring the essence of each GM brand to the surface in
    the design artwork shown here in a very evocative way.

  8. Alan

    As a former Buick dealer, from 1965-2006, I found these drawings fascinating. So many of these ideas became iconic GM cars. Thanks for posting these!

  9. Seem like I’ve known Al Flowers forever. Ever since I saw his sketches before actually meeting him, I’ve looked on him as a brother. Man, what a teacher! (This is the second time I tried to write this) (Got my email wrong, I did)….anyway, this man knows “FORM” and can draw better than anyone I ever saw! And neither one of those things is easy to learn, it takes time and effort to obsorb even part of what he knows! Well, just let me say, here lives the greatest, Alan flowers! I’ll always have a real soft in my missing soul for him. He was a hell of a designer too! Did the sixty eight GTO along with another great man, Bill Porter! To me, the car must be seen as possessing the coolest, most sophisticated body-side….ever! He did a lot more designs that had his touch… And he continues to design.

    It’s hard to talk about Al and not mention his lovely, giving, wife Susanne. They have been together forever and she still worries about his safety, fusses over him. She is also an accomplished artist, she draws and paints beautifully. They live in a story-book house from the twenties…it’s really gorgeous !

    great people.

  10. Great drawings ; many, many recognisable design elements and themes that made it to production. Even noticed one that Holden used.
    Looking back on the drawings, even the uninitiated would look and see that these were for/from GM – the visual DNA and connection is that strong.

  11. I thoughly enjoyed the “Bestine-Wash” technique and the balancing act with the forms being manipulated before our very eyes. Thank you Mr Flowers

  12. Roy Lonberger

    Good stuff!

  13. Geert Schellekens

    What a truly phenomenal collection! Every sketch and render so powerful in its own right. From disarming simplicity in expressing complex form to a mindblowing spectrum of techniques, each contributing to the unique atmosphere that surrounds the individual designs. Probably the most impressive bandwidth I’ve ever seen in any portfolio of this era in American car design. Thanks a million for sharing these beautiful gems.

  14. Sheldon Payne

    Besides being an excellent designer, Al was a pleasure to work with. He was also lots of fun, due in no small part to his wry humor and effective BS detector. It’s really interesting to review the work posted here, as it brings back lots of memories, especially of the NDI years.

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