My aesthetic would be utilitarian: things designed with practicality first and foremost with its attractiveness — if applicable — a byproduct. One prominent 20th-century design movement from which it could have drawn inspiration is minimalism, as neither has any unnecessary features and is primarily uniform in color.

My first exposure to it was my fascination with the military portions in Michael Bay’s Transformers (2007), which had significant screen times dedicated to displaying things like tanks, fighter jets, and geared personnel. The one vehicle that always stuck out, aside from the awesome action scene that it was a part of, was the representation of the Buffalo Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV).

[1] Buffalo MPCV

The sloped underside, thick windows that jutted out from the chassis, and robotic arm made it stand out from the muscle cars and trucks. While one may be curious as to why the MPCV was designed in this manner, it’s only after understanding the reasoning behind each aspect that one appreciates the engineering that went into them. For instance, the sloped underside redirects the force of an explosive blast away from the vehicle rather than upwards if the vehicle drives over a mine or IED.

Or take the M1074 Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) System that may initially look peculiar — being built around an Abrams tank chassis — but provides a critical role by enabling the crossing of rivers or once impassable terrain with the foldable bridge it can deploy on top.

[2] M1074 JAB System

However, not all purposes are well-known to the general population. Take the F-35C that was seen sporting an unknown mirror-like coating a few years back. Despite many speculating the intentions of this new finish to the fighter, one theory being to reduce the jet’s signature, it had an unintended result of capturing the attention of many due to the rather unique geometric patterned surface.

[3] F-35C Fitted with New Coating

While I still appreciate the aesthetic of vehicles and aircraft in the real world, I usually gravitate towards the utilitarian appearance of those seen in the creative media. As a matter of fact, the countless hours I played FPS shooters and RTS games (Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, Command & Conquer, etc.) solidified my interest in the aesthetic.

Take the Guardian APC as seen in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, which has multiple characteristics as I described with the Buffalo MPCV.

[4] Tiberium Wars APCs

While I haven’t played this iteration of Call of Duty, I sometimes peruse through its game assets and concept art like the Jackal, as it still retains practical functionality despite the future/sci-fi setting — all the while being visually appealing.

[5] Jackal from COD: Infinite Warfare

Halo was the game series that made me truly appreciate the utilitarian aesthetic with the option of customizing our in-game Spartans with a plethora of tactical gear.

[6] Halo Infinite Spartan Armor Concept Art

Given my fascination, the utilitarian aesthetic will definitely be a part of my main project.


Utilitarian Background:


Minimalism Background:













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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Garrett Miller
    March 4, 2024 7:51 pm

    Hi Vincent! I think this aesthetic would make a really clean final project. What do you think you’re going to make?

    • Vincent Tang
      March 5, 2024 12:29 pm

      I’m currently planning on a specialized containers that acts as a housing unit, similar to the containerized housing unit (CHU) that have been used in military and civilian applications.

  • Alex Gebben
    March 3, 2024 7:43 pm

    I also appreciate the utilitarian aesthetic, especially when it is used in the videogames you mentioned. It is interesting that these works of fiction contain vehicles and attire that is designed specifically to look as if it is utilitarian, even though the setting is so far in the future that there would be no way to know what would actually be useful. It takes a lot of artistry and imagination to come up with these designs. What are you thinking about for your final project? there is a lot to do with this aesthetic and I think it would be cool to see what you end up coming up with as an idea.

    • Vincent Tang
      March 5, 2024 12:27 pm

      I’ve planned to do the final project entirely in Blender so I don’t have more leeway on what I want to do. While I am focusing on specialized containers that acts as a housing unit, that could change in the foreseeable future. Like you said, there are a lot of things that could be done with this aesthetic.


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