I have a fair number of friends who work in design-related fields- architecture, industrial design, graphic design, that sort of thing. Each seems to feel real physical pain when some controllable element of their surroundings does not glow with an aura of quality design. Furniture, clothing, appliances, and so on- you're not going to see El Cheapo crap unless it's an ironic statement of some kind. Such a person will always have a Macintosh computer, and the car in the driveway will likely be German. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, of course, since pro designers are naturally drawn to attractively designed objects, but it's an easily observed phenomenon. While shooting some Engine Pr0n of the Audi RS4, and then later for the Lexus IS-F, I was struck by the differing design philosophies on display in the cars' respective engine compartments. Let's take a look (make the jump for more gallery goodness):

Each engine produces roughly the same power as the other (414 horses for the RS4, 416 for the IS-F), yet it's a totally different scene when you look under the hood. Audi clearly hired some very, very good artists and industrial designers to pretty things up; note the fanatically neat wire looms, the exquisite texturing on the intake runners, the colors selected after weeks of agonizing debate. Meanwhile, when you look at the Lexus' engine compartment, you can tell that the engineers went for pure function and ease of access, with the engineering itself as a design statement (yes, yes, there's a cheap plastic cover slapped on top of the whole mess as an afterthought, but it doesn't count). What at first glance appears to be chaos turns out to be anything but. It's not OSX versus Windows, it's OSX versus Unix. But... which is more beautiful? It's a tough one for me- that Audi intake is a work of art, yet I get the sense it's attempting to hide the fact that one is looking at an engine.

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