Industrial designer Carlos Mendez adopts a simple philosophy to his work – to make the world a better place. It was with this in mind that the honors graduate from California’s Art Center College of Design came up with his own 21st-century remodeling of the Ford Model T – the Mendez Cube.
“The project started with my love-hate relationship with cars,” Mendez told Gizmag. “I find them cool and fun, yet they are ridiculously large and heavy in comparison to the weight of the driver. So I set out to create a vehicle designed more to a ‘human scale’.”
Mendez explains it started as an exploratory project, without any firm ideas of what the final design was going to look like. He began by studying his own compact "student" car, the Scion xB, which was reasonably fuel-efficient and versatile carrying cargo and passengers.
He looked at the concept vehicle from the viewpoint that most transport is designed for commuting, regardless of whether it’s a sedan or a pick-up truck. It made no sense, he believed, to build multiple frames or have multiple models.
He wanted something that was multi-functional, easily transported and could be adapted to any mobility need, from whizzing about the neighborhood to serving as a small utility workhorse in developing countries.
A window-less, roofless cube took shape early on, with a saddle seat designed to carry two people. Mendez also favored an electric vehicle because it was better environmentally, helped to contain the size and worked on the idea that an electrical supply was available universally.
“In an ideal world, the Cube would be the 21st-century version of the Ford Model T,” Mendez says. “They’d all come in one color, and once it’s purchased, the owner customizes it to his or her needs.”
Mendez envisages the Cube as a base piece of Lego which owners would add to, according to their circumstances and wishes. “It’s the basic, most elemental component of the vehicle. Once the owner buys it, it can be upgraded with roll bars, windshield, even a little roof for weather protection. If the owner needs cargo space, then a bed can be added to haul things.”
Mendez thinks the flexibility of the design potentially creates a worldwide market for the Cube and imagines a product that is collapsible for easy shipping.
For the moment, the Cube is on the back-burner while Mendez pursues one of his other projects, his self-teaching violin, called the Squidolin, which he hopes to turn from a concept into a prototype.