Book Review: Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Futurist Mead has been around for some time and I can remember getting this large square soft cover book in 1979 and being wowed with the future it depicted. It's worth saying, though, that Mead's illustrations are not science fiction art, the sort of thing that you'll find in Infinite Worlds: Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP) or Tomorrow and Beyond: Masterpieces of Science Fiction Art (US | CA | UK | DE) where the future is shown as much as fantasy as high tech other worlds and space vehicles.

The preface to the book says: 'Syd Mead is a visualiser of the American Dream' and the various pictures certainly bear this out. There are several spread wide paintings in the book that show personal transport but with all the iconography of Detroit car ads from the sixties. Many remind me of those amazing Pontiac ads from the late Fifties and through the Sixties that featured the paintings of Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman. The women are all glamorous and the men display the rugged stance of assurance of the upper middle class. The fashions they wear also reinforce this, too.

The book has plenty of paintings showing landscapes of an exterior future but the ones I like best are the examples of interior technologies. Page 132-133 has five stunning paintings and roughs from a Playboy feature showing a 'WonderWall': the interior of a room with visual and aural equipment. Pages 56-57 have the interior of a GM motor home and brilliant three-quarter rendering of the vehicle.

The book is now over thirty years old so the paintings and roughs are even older and it does sort of show. This is dated tech that has a sort of never-happened warmth to the renderings. Now I'm used to seeing the incredible digital work of Daniel Simon and Scott Roberson. I wonder what Syd Mead would have created if he was a young man now working with a digital palette?

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR)

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel
Title spread (the Dragon's Dream edition)

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel
Right: the complete picture. Rough, work-up and a stunning final result.

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel
Right: I think Mead is at his best with future interiors and hi-tec eqipment. The Playboy 'Wonderwall'.

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

Steel Couture - Syd Mead - Futurist Sentinel

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4 Comments

I "bought" this book for my

I "bought" this book for my dad when I was a little kid (mom did obviously), but ended up getting it back off him many years later when I was moving away. I had always been mesmorized by the vision and artwork as a kid, and have somehow managed to keep the book in near mint condition.
This book is a classic, and beautifully done.

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