Jeremy Scott has been inspired by various pop cultural phenomena during his career as a fashion designer. His design for smart reflects those eclectic influences in a startling yet convincing way. While from the outside it might look like a 1950s, futuristic vision of a racecar, the inside is all glammed up with quilted leather seats, shiny chrome appliances and a steering wheel bearing a striking resemblance to those used by the Jetson family. His never-ending creative fantasy touched the car in all its details, so I was eager to hear how his eclectic vision for smart was composed and to find out whether this cute, little car can survive on the streets of LA.
Mary Scherpe: How did the collaboration come together?
Jeremy Scott: They approached me with the idea, and I certainly was instantly excited to have the opportunity to bring my creativity onto such an iconic car. Much of my work deals with our cultural iconography and the smart is already an icon; it’s very recognizable and also distinguishable from any other vehicle. I feel it turned out to be more than I even expected, which is rare.
Mary Scherpe: You’re living in the hub of car culture, Los Angeles, and have drawn inspiration from pop culture for your fashion collections. How did these personal influences merge into your design for smart?
Jeremy Scott: I have a very eclectic taste. There are many different things I love and feel inspired by. For this collaboration I was thinking about the many forms of car culture in my hometown, LA—this customization, the hydraulics and all the old-timers, people redo and create something new with. I wanted to take a bit of this car fetish and add my cinematic associations—especially futuristic films from the 1950s and 60s, which today often have the feel of a nostalgia for the future. Because how it’s depicted in those movies…it never happened. I wanted to mesh those two inspirations together. That’s why the car has a kind of spaceship appearance, but also got appliances that look like [they’re] from the 1950s, as well as the look of a high-end luxury handbag. The design of the car, in the end, is as eclectic as my taste.
Mary Scherpe: When people imagine the future, it’s always rather surreal. Especially in the 1950s, the materials and gadgets are funny for today’s viewer. Your smart then also reminds me of the designs we saw on the TV-series, The Jetsons.
Jeremy Scott: Oh, I always loved The Jetsons, but at the same time I love The Flintstones. So go figure… And that movie where they meet each other, it’s odd and great at the same time! So this is definitely part of my vocabulary. But I’m also inspired by Blade Runner, where the vision of the future is, of course, a completely different version—very dirty and broken down, instead of clean and fun.
Mary Scherpe: smart also stands for a sustainable lifestyle, and the car is actually quite unusual for LA. It’s very small compared to the rest of the vehicles used here.
Jeremy Scott: Yes, people here like big cars, but I, myself, do own a smart. And it’s so wonderful since you can park it anywhere.
Mary Scherpe: And the design of your smart definitely makes up for its lack in size. It’s a statement car, with which you can easily win the show-off contest while waiting at a traffic light next to a giant SUV.
Jeremy Scott: Yes, definitely. And it’s an electric car—a technology which I very much believe in, since I do care about our future, not only about my fantasy of [the] future. As a fashion designer, I am dealing with frivolity and showing off. And it was so very interesting to me to bring this fashion desire, where you’d line up for this exact pair of shoes, to a car that is normally kind of nerdy. I wanted to mesh those two parts of my personality.
Mary Scherpe: Is there a special detail that’s your favorite?
Jeremy Scott: As obvious as it is, I love the taillights, which are used as the blinker and the break lights. To take something that’s so practical and important in a vehicle and render it artistic is really fulfilling to me. And I love using the steering wheel with the break in it. It’s really easy to drive, almost as in a racecar, since the smart is surprisingly fast.
Mary Scherpe: It’s very much a racecar with the design of a luxurious handbag.
Jeremy Scott: Yes, this is what I wanted to do: create the same desire you might have with a handbag with an electric smart.