Renowned multidisciplinary digital artist Ash Thorp has been announced as the newest addition to the De Tomaso family, working alongside the team as they launch their new digital initiative — The Paradigm Thread.
De Tomaso is a European American brand with a rich history, bold reputation, and a treasured symbol of European sophistication and luxury. The collaboration showcases De Tomaso’s disruption of the status quo of traditional automotive design, and opens doors for trailblazing emerging talent to break new ground and push the boundaries of possibility.
‘The Paradigm Thread’ will see the coalescence of the digital and physical realms, with the American digital artist joining the in-house family to design some of its future ‘Digital Artwork’ and ‘Time Machines’. Highly respected as one of the best in the business, Ash has produced a vast array of cutting-edge work across feature films like Blade Runner and Ender’s Game, commercial campaigns, concept products, and motion graphics. With credits as a director, designer, and illustrator, his work seeks to redefine the limits of digital artwork and blur the lines between illusion and reality. To mark this ground breaking moment and advance the dialogue in conceptual automotive design, De Tomaso unveiled a short film The Paradigm Thread: Parte One.
We caught up with Ryan Berris, Norman Choi and Ash Thorp to find out more.
How does ‘luxury’ as we understand it translate into the digital world?
Ryan: For us, true luxury is more about the process, the means than just the ends. Our convergence of the digital and physical world’s will push the boundaries of one’s ability to comprehend their own reality, but will have a strong underlying theme, our no compromise approach. Everything we do, every process, whether it is digital, physical, a vehicle or a film is taken incredibly seriously and with a long-form artisan approach.
We’re seeing an increasing desire for modern takes on ‘classic’ and ‘retro’ styles — what is it about ’60s- and ’70s-style supercars that contemporary design can sometimes lack?
Ryan: I think it’s the romance, the simplicity and the something that appears more substantive than most commercial efforts in our modern world.
Norman: 60s-70s Romance in a reckless way, masters of artistry who handcrafted the panels in a raw and emotional, unrestricted form. Most contemporary designs I see as a bit too numb and functional. Sometimes an enjoyable drive is not just about speed, not how fast the shift takes.
What does this partnership — this ‘coalescence of digital and physical realms — ultimately represent for you both? And what first step can we expect from this voyage?
Ryan: I think it represents and showcases how the pursuit of perfection can have no bounds. It is really symbolic and highlights the beauty of the process itself; an artisan, long-form approach to every aspect to what we do, down to the fibre of our being. We find ways to leverage our strengths together as a diverse team, whilst pushing one another outside of our comfort zones. Whilst we have many steps in progress, I can tell you that there is a new physical form in the works…
Ash: As a digital artist most of my work lives in the ether of 1s and 0s. Aligning with the team at De Tomaso will not only allow me to fulfil a dream I have had since I was a child which is to design and aid in the development of a fully functional road going race car, but also allowing me to fall on the strengths I have been developing over the past 15 years. I have been creating digital art on the computer. We are at this amazing precipice as the power of digital assets have gained notoriety due to block chain and NFT technology and as a team we are really thinking about the future and how we can really harness this amazing merger of worlds and implement it into the rich history of De Tomaso within that world.
What is it about the design of automotives that particularly appeals to you? Does it present challenges that you haven’t encountered elsewhere?
Ash: For me automotive design encapsulates almost every aspect of art that I love. It involves engineering, science, technology, design, form, function, poetry and if done right it should impact the world in a visceral way. For me automotive design truly embodies everything I admire about art and everything that excites me about being a creative person.
Do you see digital automotive design unlocking a potential for advancement in the industry that perhaps traditional processes have not?
Ryan: The automotive industry is currently undergoing a structural shift. A century-cycle that will define the future of product definition, business structures and consumer behaviours. It can be viewed as scary or troubling for some, notably higher volume legacy manufacturers, but I feel it is an incredibly fascinating time to be alive and able to forge new pathways with our modern-approach.
Ash: In my perspective the future is bright. Brighter than it has ever been and those who see the opportunities and harness them the right way with the right integrity will lead the way. The sky is truly the limit at this point and I think by introducing new approaches and creative solutions to a traditional world will be extremely disruptive and evocative in all the right ways. At the end of the day we just want to make something we can stand behind and be proud of and I think there are a multitude of approaches but by harnessing the digital approach we will create our own pathway.
How do you see this collaboration influencing the future of luxury design on a wider scale?
We would like to lead the way in how we see things and how we put quality and craft at the top of our goal list be it digital or tangible. We feel this is a paradigm moment that will set potential trends for years to follow.
What advice would you have for any young designers wishing to break into this intersectional field?
Ash: My best advice is always to stay humble and stay curious. Don’t get caught up in the trends, tools or hype. Follow your own path and be relentless in your pursuit for what you feel is your true authentic calling.
De Tomaso is often said to “disrupt the status quo” — what does this statement represent from the brand’s perspective?
Ryan: It’s part of our identity. Not simply from a historical standpoint, but our identity as a team and how we approach our initiatives. Historically, De Tomaso had been a disruptor on many fronts from designing & engineering some of world’s first mid-engined road cars, worked with and nurtured some of the greatest talents in automotive, to being an M&A specialist and acquiring a portfolio of industrial holdings such as Maserati, Moto Guzzi, Benelli, Innocenti, Ghia and Vignale. In present and future form we as a team like to remain curious, open-minded and work both within and outside of our comfort zones as we forge our own niche pathway that respects our history whilst embarking on new disruptive endeavours and approaches.
What would you consider to be three essential design elements to creating a timeless car aesthetic?
Ash: Something that has a pure approach and intent, you must feel the soul of its creator when you see it or experience it in every sense of its being. To sight the great Dieter Rams and his 10 principles my favourites of this list are:
- Good design is innovative
- Good design is honest
- Good design is as little design as possible
These are all the things I feel add to the amalgamation of a timeless piece of automotive history and that is what we are setting out to do together.
Ryan: There is beauty in simplicity.
What do you think will be trending in the 2022 automotive industry?
Norman: A transformative shift in automotive continues to unfold undoubtedly with EV / Autonomous people carriers and perhaps a breakthrough in solid state batteries will likely continue to be in vogue.
To discover more, visit: detomaso-automobili.com
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