As 2008 is coming to an end, we are saying Good Bye to the promises of a prosperous future and – once again – Hello to uncertainty. Our world has been filled to the brim with artefacts and architecture celebrating the euphoria of a new millennium but often they speak the language of a past time.

When in these calm days of Christmas we see an Aston Martin Vantage or a Rolls Royce Phantom on the streets, these proud cars – the gleaming aspiration of many of our investment banker friends – are suddenly surrounded by an air of melancholy and nostalgia.

What only yesterday looked much like the tangible future of every ambitious and self-respecting individual today seems – together with the vivid day-dreams they incorporated – much like something from the history books.

Nobody knows for certain how the future of the American auto industry – or any auto industry, or any other industry – will play out exactly. The promise though – the so-called ‘market confidence’ – that some gifted designers had so eloquently carved into steel, is gone.

“One gets no credit on the past” Karl Lagerfeld says in a recent interview. And he continues: “When the global economic crisis is gone, we will see that Europe and North America will finally be the old world… China, India and the Gulf States will be the new.”

Well, today at least we can say that this old world has produced some damn fine design in those recent golden years. Design in fact that – if one looks closely – has often had its home much more in fairytale-like narratives than in the challenges of the real world.

One gets no credit on the past, but a lot of fragile warmth and a lot of love springs from the dreams one once shared.  – Many of the products designed, many of the buildings built, much of the art collected speaks loudly of these dreams. Together they mark the cornerstones in a map for a world that had never really been and that was never quite really about to come.

It is with some profound relief that we can now find the likes of those beautiful Aston Martins freed from all their full-mouthed and half-hearted promises. And finally we can send them off into the realms of poetry where they have always belonged. – Stripped from even the faintest vulgarity and dressed in noble nostalgia they will also have never looked better.

These are days in which the future ages quickly. One cannot but love our times for this.

This is the first post by the new David Report contributor Jens Hilgenstock.


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