The New Materialism

Art of the Dealership 

Audi Delarship
Shouldn’t there be alignment between the type and quality of automobiles that a dealership sells and the environment in which they are displayed and sold? This has been on my mind lately as I’ve had occasion to drive up and down the east coast, and am baffled as to why Lexus, a premium brand, wraps its dealerships in cold grey Dryvit, a decidedly down scale material.

Contrast Lexus’ use of Dryvit with Audi’s use of metal panels. Audi uses various types of metal panels in multiple finishes and knits them together in a sophisticated skin that belies the quality of the Audi brand. Bright chrome logo mark rings sit atop smooth satin panels which are layered with textured rain-screens, all with well aligned tight joints and exacting craftsmanship just as we expect from a premier german automobile brand. The most interesting material is a hexagonal laser perforated panel that is folded into a honeycomb shape and layered over the metal panels. This layering of the panels creates subtle textures and shadows that are discernible at a distance and very seductive up close. Lexus dealerships

Metal panels vs. textured acrylic stucco? The Lexus showroom uses inelegantly detailed vertical ribs of Dryvit with a surface that is tooled and textured to a sandpaper grit 10 surface. Lexus known for high quality well crafted automobiles, albeit on the vanilla side of the design spectrum, ends up looking dowdy.

Bottom line: Not only does Audi make automobiles that exude “truth in engineering” they have a prototype show room that exudes truth and mastery of  materials. No synthetic stucco insight, rather perfect alignment between product and sales environment.

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