Refraction - On American Design

    America is not the country where car was first born. Automobile was born in Europe, 1886. With the design of Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the ancestor of Mercedes Benz of nowadays, humans can transport to places faster, safer and longer. The machine which used as a tool of moving hardly fit the conception of car in our days. It was more like a wagon, or a carriage with engine powered by mechanic system. It wasn’t until Ford’s Mobile T that automobiles started to have an enormous impact on to American culture. The innovation of mass production caused Ford to become the prologue of modern auto mobility. Since 1908, the launch of the Mobile T, the pursuit of mobility started to become one of the significant DNA in American culture. The mobility merged and expand when Curtis proposed another level of loading capacity, from the ability of moving develop to the right to choose whether staying or going. Curtis promises a standard of living, which consists of “a clean, efficient, highly-serviced, totally independent living unit.” (Banham, p.160) Airstream, as the pursuit of platonic ideology balancing between hospitality and mobility, successfully promote the image of the futuristic living prompt with mobility by the polished aluminum skin as aircraft, miscellaneous doors. 
    There was a discontinues choices of design Airstream can been experienced. Airstream’s version of futuristic image was being designed and set in the period of the New Deal while this product, in reality, was introduced in seventieth.  For the outside of the caravan, the line formed by aluminum came from the style of art deco in thirtieth. However, the interior had none related serve to exterior, only function aspect took space. Some takes the difference between exterior and interior as an illusion of lie. Instead of the future projection, what is inside, is simply home. Banham depicted a scene that Airstream passed farms and composed a high contrast movement between future and real life. The refraction of context transformed seamlessly from one style to another. 
      The refraction method of design was manipulated in various aspect of American culture. Such as the automobile industry started to affect the food industry in various aspect. For example, California as a modern city blooming in twentieth century, fully echoed the ecology of car industry. In-N-Out, collect refractions from different value along with chromatics, architecture and visual rhetoric that effect subconscious behavior and user experience. The design of this chain fast food restaurant has a decent proportion related to mobility. First, the big arrow stands in the middle of the logo, which relating to the moving, accelerating, a “go” characteristic of fast food; Second, the audio broadcast system that make sure even the customer in one’s car in the parking lot won’t miss their meal. Third, the simplest menu one can ever get (Hamburger, Cheeseburger, French Fries and Shakes), which a time saving design to shorten the waiting period before they handed the meal to customer. 
    The signature colors for In-N-Out are white, red, and yellow. The white is used for the building's’ exterior walls and the employee's’ basic uniform. Red is used for the buildings’ roofs and the employees’ aprons and hats. Yellow is used for the decorative band on the roof and iconic zig-zag in the logo. These kinds of color coding is widely being used in fast food restaurant such as McDonald's, KFC...Etc. Red is known for having the function of stimulation humans appetite. Yellow links to the color of potato and cheese, also, scientifically it’s the most eye catching color human can ever experience, which is truly essential for a restaurant that have to advertise those fast moving, distanced customer. White is about hygiene as the color of napkin, the guarantee of clean environment and sanitary food process. 
     Above all, perhaps the most interesting design refraction inside In-N-Out is about their architecture. Walking in to In-N-Out, one will see small square ceramic tiles which used with their recognizable color and relatively low counter that allow one to see inside the kitchen. These are the important elements that also shared in American’s home kitchen. What is In-N-Out trying to sell? The flavor of family owned, home-cook quality food, decades-old businesses in the local area. Therefore they construct their trust between customer by using the projection of the clean, old-fashioned  image of kitchen even before their food is served. Another visual detail that usually appears is a popular image on In-N-Out ads and artwork, which often shows classic cars such as 1965 Mustangs and 1968 Firebirds visiting the original restaurants. The product (I mean their food, user experience and other aspect as an whole dinning activity) along with their brand image, including menu, interior setting, color, mix the perception of family and all the value of auto mobile industry together, created  a mouth watering attempting option. 
      Famous London chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay ate In-N-Out for the first time when taping Hell’s Kitchen in Los Angeles, and it soon became one of his favorite spots for take-out. Ramsay was quoted, saying about the experience: “In-N-Out burgers were extraordinary. I was so bad, I sat in the restaurant, had my double cheeseburger then minutes later I drove back round and got the same thing again to take away.” After all, who wouldn’t love this kind of promise: the freedom of moving, traveling, and during the traveling, you can always goes back home only by drive into those drive through under the white, yellow, red billboard.  Or even more so, you can take “it” with you.1

Work Cited:
Reyner Banham. “Taking With You.” Berkley: University of California Press, 1996
Fugure 1. The interior of In-N-Out.