How Stainless Steel helped define the Blade Runner universe

How Stainless Steel helped define the Blade Runner universe

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If you've ever marvelled at the grimy, sprawling metropolis of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, or the elegant neon cycles of the original Tron, you have to thank Syd Mead. For nearly six years, the acclaimed concept artist has inspired Hollywood with his futuristic robots, vehicles and landscapes

Syd started drawing when he was 2 years old. When he was 4 years old, his father, a Baptist minister, read him Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. At seven, Sydney drew futuristic cars with teardrop-shaped bodies. His first job out of Art Center School in Los Angeles was drawing concept cars for the Ford Motor Company. The year was 1959, and he was making $4,000 a year. At this time, aluminium began to compete with stainless steel, and the industry was looking for a visual way to say "stainless steel is cool!" So Syd was commissioned to complete this futuristic design book.

In 1978, Syd designed the V'ger ship for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Then, in 1980, he got a call from Ridley Scott to make his new science fiction film. The legendary Blade Runner was in pre-production for eight months, and Syd was only tasked with designing the vehicles. One of his designs was a stainless steel vehicle in pouring rain with the freeway going off into the city - just a wall of architecture. Ridley really liked it. It was the exact dark and dystopian look he had envisioned.

Syd mentions that he thinks “the future has caught up with itself. We’re now very close to putting mental visualisation on the screen. They’ve done it with cats. They were taking an image right from the cat’s visual centre in its brain, and it matched up — which is kind of scary when you think about it.”


At DSM we do make a wide range of bespoke stainless steel products, but unfortunately we don't make V'ger space ships! so we'll make do with a science joke:

A Neuron walks into a bar and asks the bartender how much a beer costs... the bartender replies, "for you, no charge" (we'll get our lab coats!).