Home » Here’s What The Next Generation Of Car Designers Think The Future Will Look Like

Here’s What The Next Generation Of Car Designers Think The Future Will Look Like

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Humans are wonderful, messy, talented, things. Because of the great cosmic lottery, we’ve all got completely different spec sheets, optional extras, and color and trim choices. Some are good with their hands, and some of us are better with our brains. If you’re into cars, there’s probably a job somewhere in the industry that can accommodate whatever talents you have been gifted with. But no job is so secretive and shrouded in mystery as that of the person who actually decides what the steel box with wheels is going to look like, what it’s going to do, and how it functions.

So… how does one get to be a car designer? The popular conception of a car designer is of someone who sits around, headphones on drawing cars all day, pausing occasionally to drink an eye-widening coffee from a tiny cup. Every so often there will be some pointing at a model while nodding slowly. If I’ve taught you lot anything, hopefully it’s that there’s a lot more to it than that.

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If you’ve been tagging along here for a bit I probably come across as a bit of a know-it-all, but a car designer is a jack of all trades and master of one. Okay, two. They need to be expert at both understanding the form of car and then knocking out some stunning visuals to demonstrate their ideas. Crucially, they also need a baseline knowledge of a whole boatload of more peripheral subjects. Automotive history. Branding. Marketing. Packaging. Physical and digital modeling. Consumer behavior. Usage scenarios… And another fifty or more things I can’t remember right now, but how do you learn it all? And once you’ve topped off your brain with all this crap, how do you demonstrate you actually understand all this stuff?

The answer is by taking an undergrad or master’s degree at one of the various colleges and universities around the world that offer such courses. It might be called vehicle, transportation, or even more pointedly automotive design, but it will be a specialist curriculum based solely on the conception and creation of vehicles. In the US the main schools are Art Center in Pasadena and College for Creative Studies in Detroit. In Europe there’s UMEA in Sweden, Strate in Paris, Pforzheim in Germany and IED in Turin. In Japan, there’s Tokyo College of Communication. And then of course there are the two times I got to wear a stupid gown for a day and then proceeded to get absolutely blind drunk after a pompous ceremony granting me a certificate with my name on it: Coventry and the Royal College of Art (RCA, which is post-grad only). There are other schools around the world offering similar design degrees, but those listed constitute the Ivy League – the pipeline that supplies talent to the majority of the OEMs.

Learning Is Fun!

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With my BA graduation project in 2015, an electric hot rod.

Most will be three- or four-year programs, and a master’s is a further two years (although in some schools a master’s is only a year and I can’t even with the stupidity of that) on top of that. Teaching methods and course structure will vary, but the basic subjects covered are things like sketching and rendering, proportions, packaging, clay and digital modeling, form finding (mucking about with random physical objects and sticking wheels on it to come up with new shapes), creation of personas (using research to create a fictional customer and then designing a vehicle for them) and vehicle layouts. There will likely also be more academic, purely research-based projects, and at the master’s level, you have to write a fully referenced and cited dissertation. A lot of my peers at the RCA struggled with this, but funnily enough arguing in words isn’t exactly my weakness.

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It’s a couple of messy years spent getting stinky modeling clay stuck in your clothes and your fingers covered in ink. Young hands will be turned into wizened claws from mammoth Alias sessions. Laptops become a hellscape strewn with half-started project folders, random mood images and scattered Blender files. This is all in preparation for the final year, where the students will attempt to pour everything they have learned up to that point into a compelling final major (graduation) project. Traditionally, this has always been done by making a quarter- or fifth-scale physical model, and all creative universities have a big, splashy end-of-year physical exhibition showcasing all the graduating students’ work across all disciplines. This all went a bit sideways during the pandemic when shows went online only and the models were all digital, but now doors are open again and honest-to-gosh models are available for in-person viewing. I went along to the 2024 Coventry show earlier this week to see how this year’s litter of auto design cubs is doing, and I’ve collected what I consider to be the best projects of the show here.

Mark Wu – Rimowa BiLeisure Link

I always like to see projects that are not the usual tweaking and rearranging of existing automotive ideas. A lot of students fall into the trap of just doing a future version of an existing car, or a car in a segment an OEM doesn’t currently occupy. Taking inspiration from a non-automotive brand and transposing that to a vehicle is much more interesting, and that’s precisely what our first subject, Mark Ru, has done. Here’s Mark:

BleisureLink is a car rental service that allows business travelers to extend their business trips and include some leisure travel. This enables them to explore their destination and enjoy some holiday time.

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My inspiration for this project came from the vision and uniqueness of the luggage manufacturer RIMOWA. I aimed to bring the elegance and aesthetics of the fashion industry into the automotive world. The primary goal of this project was to encourage and inspire people to be curious about exploring the unknown by traveling.

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Mark has taken a visually very distinct brand and transposed that identity onto something completely different, inside and out. There are some neat touches here: I especially like the area on the outside for placing stickers to show all the places you’ve been, the classic luggage travel trope.

More images and the complete project can be found on Mark’s Behance Page Here.

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Diogo Conçlaves – Human Organ Transport Super Vehicle

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Identifying a real problem and then designing a solution for it is another great way to come with an idea for a vehicle. Luckily Torch didn’t need a new heart, but if he had, in a utopian future it might have been sped to his operating theatre in one of these. Diogo spent a long time researching the unique challenges facing the timely delivery of fresh, juicy organs ripe for insertion into warm bodies and came up with this.

Revolutionizing organ transportation with HOT-SV (Human Organ Transport – Super Vehicle). The ultimate solution to life-saving logistics. Designed to seamlessly integrate cutting-edge technology for organ preservation, including the TRANSMEDICS Organ Care System (a device that keeps the transplants “alive”) the vehicle ensures the safe and efficient transport of vital organs.

HOT-SV incorporates security measures to safeguard against organ traffic and theft, providing peace of mind in critical situations. Its compact width of 850mm allows for effortless navigation through cycle lanes and congested areas, ensuring timely delivery even in the most challenging environments.

In an era where every second counts, HOT-SV stands as a testament to the power of technology and human ingenuity in saving lives.

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Is it a bit sci-fi? Sure. But Diogo has thought the whole thing through end-to-end so it feels credible and makes sense in an aesthetically pleasing and logical way. That’s what separates this from being mere future computer game concept art nonsense.

More images and the complete project can be found on Diogo’s Behance page.

Jaeun Park – Dacia Midway

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Remember what I said earlier about taking an OEM and moving into a new segment? The reason it’s such a minefield is because there’s enormous potential for ballsing it up if you try and do something stupid like a Jaguar pickup truck. By picking Dacia for his multi-purpose vehicle, Jaeun has got it spot on – right down to having symmetrical panels across the vehicle to save on stamping costs. [Ed note: shades of the AMC Cavalier concept]

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The Midway is a sort of outdoor workshop for people who want or need to work outside, but don’t have their own space. The doors have a novel opening that can expand the interior volume or open fully back-to-back to reveal a toolbox and power outlets. The interior is modular, and the rear roof section lifts off to convert the car into a pickup truck. “It’s your own space where you can do anything comfortably. A technical design that fits, at an affordable price,” says Jaeun.

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Jaeun was one of the few who had managed to make a large-scale model, milled out of foam from the digital model and then paneled with additional 3D-printed parts. You can see some of the work this involves and the complete project on Jaeun’s Behance page.

Dillon Dove – Duesenberg 100

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Resurrecting a long-dead brand is another old student favorite, and if you can do it in a compelling way and adapt it for modern times, why not? I’d rather see something imaginatively out of the past reinterpreted for the modern age as opposed to another bloody Vision Gran Turismo concept (one of the excuses students use to do sports cars, which does not pass what I call the academic sniff test). In Dillon’s words:

The Duesenberg 100 primarily aims to answer one question: In 2037, 100 years after the loss of Duesenberg, if the iconic American brand was to return what would it look like?

By exploring historic and modern American luxury through fashion, architecture, and the Art Deco movement as well as iconic Duesenberg design features, I was able to construct my vision of the near future which can evoke the unapologetic opulence of the 20s & 30s but in a modern way. This was achieved through not just the visual appearance and perceived tactility, but also the ‘red carpet’ ingress through the long front of the vehicle and the overall focus on a relaxed experience taken to the next level with the absence of driving. Being fully autonomous it needs to change the perception of luxury travel by stimulating all the senses, from the interior touchpoints to the focused vision upwards at the natural surroundings, and the purified air running through the central channel going from the underbody to out of the centre of the roof of the vehicle. It must essentially provide theatre, excitement and involvement, but in a way that gets the user to their destination more relaxed and clear-minded than when they left.

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It’s big, it’s opulent, and it screams money and power, exactly why people used to by Duesenbergs in the twenties and thirties. Some of the details are a little fussy but it’s always better to take a big swing with a car like this, and for the most part, Dillon has nailed it. Further images can be found on Dillon’s portfolio pages.

The Kids Are (Mostly) All Right

I like asking students awkward questions not to trip them up, but because their answers tell me a lot about how well they understand their own work. Have they done something with real substance to, it or is it just a pretty sculpture? The young designers here impressed me with their fully imagined creations rendered not just in pixels or 3D prints, but also within their imaginations as real vehicles in worlds they would operate in.

J Mays and Adrian after his graduation from the RCA in 2017
One of these car designers had a longer and more glittering career than the other one did. With J Mays after my RCA graduation in 2017

As you can probably tell from the images, there was a paucity of physical models on display. Professional presentation of your work and your ideas is everything, and a nice, big, well-finished model goes a long way to showing what you are capable of. I also advise new designers to make themselves available to those appreciating their work whenever possible. There were other standout projects I hoped to feature here, but the students concerned were not present to talk to even though I attended on the first day the show was open to the public. (I reached out to them for permission to cover their work here, but they did not reply in time to be included.) Leaving business cards with a font so small I had to put my reading glasses on for the first time in three years is not a substitute for being there in person, because you never know who is going to come along. It might be a tall goth designer wanker about to make you internet famous, or might just be the someone from an OEM who is going to give you a job.

Authors note: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a part-time tutor at Coventry University on the vehicle design MA.

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Ben
Ben
12 days ago

I liked these a lot more than I expected to. Well done to all involved!

Loren
Loren
13 days ago

Reading the comments about designers creating concepts too nutty to build, my take is that automobiles are too complex of a thing for designers to be expected to understand the engineering and production matters of very deeply and it’s appropriate to leave them up there in the pure air provided they retain some minimum concepts of reality (which Adrian is saying they do have to learn). There are plenty of people working closer to earth who can say what cannot or should not be built and are able to do the details for what can be.

The good engineers often aren’t so good at coming up with attractive stuff to do their engineering for.

Tinctorium
Tinctorium
13 days ago

It’s so great that you’re using your platform to elevate student work. I actually just finished my MFATD thesis at CCS. I don’t know how much traveling you have left in you on such short notice or where you are currently based out of, but you should swing by the CCS Student exhibition if you can. It’s up until May 22 and while I don’t know if I can get everybody there, I am good friends with a lot of people both in the Graduate and Undergrad. I would be happy to give you a tour of the work and arrange for some of the students to be there if you can make it here!

Last edited 13 days ago by Tinctorium
Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
14 days ago

Not intended as a critique of the students but more as a comment on where transportation is globally. But the stuff China is actually doing is more interesting and forward-looking than what these students are proposing.

I will note that the Dacia looks like a 1990s sci-fi prop and the Duesenberg, below its surfacing, adheres to proportions that make no sense as “luxury” proportions unless power is coming from a large, long ICE.

Vee
Vee
14 days ago

One thing I’m not seeing in a lot of these is how the human fits into things. There’s space for stuff, and the shapes tend to be all about the mechanicals being wrapped in the least amount of material possible. For example, how does a human enter into the Duesenberg 100? Is it like a funnycar situation where the body flips forward? And for the BiLeisure Link, where exactly is the space separation? Having your people and your stuff in the same place never goes well in a moving object.

I think a good design prompt would be “You have four wheels. You have three doors. The third door can be either a hatch or a door. You have five seats, including a fully outfitted driver’s seat. There must be the possibility for distinct and absolute separation between human space and cargo volume built into the car itself. Aerodynamics are not to be considered, and if preferable, are to be actively worked against.”

I feel something like that would beget some more interesting designs, not unlike the wild machines like seen on the June of 1940 issue of Popular Science.

Kip Wipple
Kip Wipple
14 days ago

Dillon Love’s neo-duesenberg looks suspiciously like the art deco batmobile from the 90s bruce timm’s batman the animated series. DEC178799

Jayson Elliot
Jayson Elliot
14 days ago

Every one of these would be a great future for car design, but I like the Dacia Midway concept the best.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
15 days ago

With all respect to Diogo, what is the use case for what is essentially a self-driving motorcycle for transporting organs for transplant? What can this accomplish that is not already possible via plane, car, and/or helicopter?

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
15 days ago
Reply to  Cayde-6

Sometimes it is short range work, within the same city. Quicker by motorcycle than waiting on traffic or flight plans. In Eroupe they already have guys on motorcycles doing organ delivery. And yes, they are authorized to take the sidewalk if needed

SAABstory
SAABstory
15 days ago

Accidentally ran into either a small car show or a cars and coffee this morning, and prominently displayed was a Cybertruck. Honestly the cars here, especially the Dacia, look more like real cars than the Tesla.

How would the Cybertruck have been graded if it had been one of the student presentations?

Space
Space
15 days ago
Reply to  SAABstory

If it came from the mechanical department? It’s probably fine.

2nerkid
2nerkid
15 days ago
Reply to  SAABstory

CCS grad and car design industry worker here. The Cybertruck would get a failing grade. Literally would not have even been shown at an event like this. Assuming the professors let the student who penned it get all the way to reluctant model approval status while still looking Like That, it would have been stashed somewhere out of sight, in student-only quarters, not on display to the public, for the shame it would bring whatever institution that allowed it to happen and for the immediate blacklisting from the industry the student would have earned themselves.

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
15 days ago

Lots of comments on here seem mad the students didn’t create fully engineered, production ready, next generation models of existing cars, which isn’t the point of these projects, nor are they showcasing their talents to laymen like us, but to recruiters of design studios who will want to see their imagination and creativity.

As a fellow Cov Uni graduate, in automotive engineering rather than design, I loved seeing the graduate auto design exhibition each year, the ideas and imagination within the models and drawings was always astonishing and incredibly impressive to someone coldly practical and logical as I was.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
15 days ago

Hey Adrian! Wanna tear apart a 25 year old car design where the students actually built a running, driving prototype? I worked on this project as a student, and one of my good friends, who was a masters student, led the design team as his thesis. He couldn’t get a job with an OEM, though. One said that after leading an entire project like that, he’d be miserable spending the next five years designing door handles.

https://www.allcarindex.com/concept/united-states/savannah-college-of-art-and-design-scad/exo-spyder

DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
DubblewhopperInDubblejeopardy
15 days ago

The Dacia would look cool with twin Gatling guns fitted with lasers.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
16 days ago

Mark Wu’s project is awesome.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
16 days ago

That intro paragraph brought a tear to my eye and for a moment I felt like I was reading Torch.

KevFC
KevFC
16 days ago

Maybe I missed something, but it seems like too much attention to superficial appearances. An updated checker cab would be fine by me. Whatever happened to form follows function? I would like to see innovation in ergonomics and functionality and safety.

KevFC
KevFC
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

For old/disabled/tall people getting in and out and finding a comfortable (and hence safe) seating position can be hard. It is no fun and probably dangerous if your ankle has to bend backwards or hover off the floor at the accelerator pedal, if the thigh can’t rest on the seat, if sight line passes through green tint at the top of the windshield. Dangerous for everyone to have to touch a screen instead of a knob or lever by feel. Adrian, a go-cart or child’s red wagon ought to fulfill your definition. BTW, I’m not begrudging those who focus on appearance, but rather the near exclusion of the other.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
16 days ago

I’m glad you did this—for us and for them. Looking behind the curtain is always interesting, and more so when it’s a subject so polarizing. As a faculty brat, I just have to ask: is your dissertation available publicly? That would be a fascinating read, I think.

I believe I’ll check out Dillon’s page first. That Duesenburg looks like real attention was paid to the original cars, and thought in bringing elements forward a century.

-thanks, man

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
16 days ago

I am about to ask a question to which I really should know the the answer.

In the mid 1960s, was there a competition wherein children and schools across Britain were invited to present design ideas and models? I think the winning entries were displayed at the Motor Show (earls court?)

From my increasingly pudding brain, I think the initiative might have been sponsored by Vauxhall?

My guess is that it was about 1967 ish

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Thank you so much, I knew I was not imagining things. I went on to become a professor of philosophy. And macro- economics. my car designing ambitions were never to be. On the upside, somehow I became a cook.

AlterId
AlterId
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I only just now clicked on that second link and remember having a Matchbox Vauxhall Guildsman (pinkish-lavender, IIRC) in my youth (and for that matter up until a little less than three years ago, when we were clearing out my parents’ house to sell it and as much of the contents as possible to pay for their assisted living facility costs and I let them be sold.) The young designer got £25 for it, which I think would have bought two and a half emigration passages to Australia in 1969.

Last edited 15 days ago by AlterId
Roofless
Roofless
16 days ago

This was pretty great – I like the creativity from the students, and appreciate the glimpse into the soft nougaty center of your black gothy heart.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I don’t believe you . . .

AlterId
AlterId
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I’m not that much of a monster.

You’re not dead yet. so there’s still hope.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
16 days ago

So today’s designers think.the future design of cars is tvs design of future cars in the 1970s?

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
16 days ago

It’s fun to see all these projects and show them to my kid. She wants to be a car designer, which in our family is less “I want to be an astronaut” and more “I want to be a dentist.” A long and expensive path, but perfectly reasonable. Just to make it a little extra though, she does specifically want to be a Lamborghini designer. That said, unlike most kids, when told to just draw any car, she does not draw 3 boxes, what comes out is clearly mid-engine. It took me a while after this discovery to realize that this quirk is because she is a product of a strongly weird-car family and 3 box sedans are a minority in our herd

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
16 days ago

That’s awesome. I hope y’all can make it happen, if she’s still interested when the time comes.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
15 days ago

At her age I wanted to be a fashion designer, so I’m not really expecting it to be her final plan, but it would be cool!

Marcus Fnord
Marcus Fnord
14 days ago

After reading your comment I showed this to my 7 year old son. He was fascinated but also worried that he didn’t know how to make a 3D car model.

I assured him that the 4 years of schooling would prepare him for creating the design.

Great article, Adrian.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
14 days ago

Statistically, it is easier to get into the NBA than to become a car designer.

I want to point out that transportation design is more style than substance, imho, and there is definitely a demand for women in industrial design, which is designing products for pass production. Transportation design is a subbranch of ID, and you can get jobs anywhere products are being designed; powertools, medical devices, housewares, etc etc etc etc. Way more options.

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
13 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

I have gently pointed out to her that pretty much everything we handle every day has some designer behind it somewhere and there’s more out there to dream up than just cars. However, she is a product of her upbringing, which means cars are frequently in her brain.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
16 days ago

Human Organ Transport Super Vehicle

Guy just took the donorcycle slang and ran with it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
16 days ago

The only thing that would make that organ transport bike better is a helmetless, ripped T-shirt and flip flop adorned delivery rider.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
16 days ago

Sorry you are 100% wrong. Writing a encyclopedia length article is just you trying to force your wrong opinion. You’re just wrong

Roofless
Roofless
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I’m genuinely curious what article you’re responding to, because in this one, Adrian was describing the work some students were doing, and there wasn’t a single narrative thread spanning an encyclopedia length article to be found.

Plenty of other things the man’s 100% wrong about, to be sure, but this one’s hard to really find an argument in.

Space
Space
15 days ago
Reply to  Roofless

Maybe he was relying to David Tracy’s timing belt article.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Huh?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
16 days ago

Very nice walkthrough of the challenges and rewards of a professional design education. The mix of ingredients, practicality, whimsy, vision and skill displayed by the select graduates is impressive. As for those who were unreachable or left calling cards, you snooze you lose. Hope whatever post graduate blast they were recovering from was worth the missed exposure. Until next time, then.

Last edited 16 days ago by Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
16 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

BTW, “ingredients” in my comment should have read ingenuity. Damn auto correct.

Jb996
Jb996
14 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I attend science research conferences, and student engineering design presentations, both are often also setup as project poster sessions. Sometimes I’m there with jobs/internships to offer!
It literally makes me angry when no one at the poster. Even if they don’t need a job, I just assume that they don’t think much of their work or of themselves, but it’s disrespectful to anyone that helped them get there.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
13 days ago
Reply to  Jb996

I suspect these students and the ones you’re talking about need better mentors. That’s where some blame lies when more than just one or two students miss a showing. The students are throwing away opportunities that are rare and extremely valuable, probably because they don’t realize how important early impressions are to their futures.

The ones who have received proper guidance about this or even thought even a little about their future are already standing there with their projects whenever permitted. The truly thoughtful even bring a small “away for a moment” sign for when they need to use the restroom or get a bite to eat.

Ultimately, primary blame lies on the students themselves, but when no students show up, it also reflects poorly on whatever organization held the event.

Last edited 13 days ago by PaysOutAllNight
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
16 days ago

Hmmm.

I see big wheels.
Big wheels in the open – and big wheels that are so enclosed by bodywork that there’s no possibility of suspension articulation.

Yet no bumpers.
Are the big exposed wheels supposed to double as bumpers? Because that won’t f*ck up your suspension/steering/drive mechanism at all…
Or are bumpers supposedly obsolete?

Are aerodynamics obsolete for everyone but the obscenely rich too?

I gotta ask – is that round chrome thing on top of the Duesenberg a gun turret or a smokestack?

If this is the automotive future – I’m glad I’m getting old.

Last edited 16 days ago by Urban Runabout
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
16 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

It’s just hot wheels from the 70s. It’s not even his design.

Zany Zokor
Zany Zokor
16 days ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

My son also has a hot wheels version of the “Canoo on mud tires” design, but hot wheels gave it either a jungle or Jurassic Park theme.

Overall I understand these designs are artistic expression rather than practicality, but I wonder if there were other designs that avoided the traditional 4 wheel (or 2 wheel) layout of all modern cars (or motorcycles). They go to great lengths to make the wheels a (completely impractical) design focus — but then they make a standard “wheels on the four corners” design. Everything else breaks the constraint of practicality, so why not assume a “flying car” with Star Trek repulsor lift, or maglev with superconducting rail-based roads, a walking vehicle, etc

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
16 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

I think there’s a distinct failure in the education of designers.

Concepts are nice eye candy and make for a fun show, and they tend to reveal a designer’s potential, but manufacturable concepts are the real accomplishments worth celebrating.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution of even an average idea can make millions.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
16 days ago

An architecture student would be skewered for presenting anything that didn’t meet basic needs for function, habitability and structural integrity.

Presenting a house, museum or office building with stairs that are too tall to climb, doorways that are too short to pass through, and no bathrooms does not show potential talent — it shows hubris.

Auto design students need to be held to a higher standard – more function, less overdesign.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

“production details are learnt on the job in the studio”
See – that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

What’s the point of getting a degree in drawing pretty pictures that are impractical and unproducable – then foisting the responsibility for actually creating practical and producible product on OJT training?

Great design is finding creative solutions within limiting factors.

When I was in architecture school – when given limiting factors to work within, some students came up with extraordinary solutions that really stood out.

Seems to me that giving students a set of fixed points/volumes and requirements to work within will make them stronger designers in the real world – and give us better products with less superfluous stuff.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Different builders have different ways of doing things too – but basic building standards and expected functionality are generally the same – as are the basic regulatory standards and expected functionality of auto design.

There’s a load of engineers helping to productionize a car for the designer.”

I had one architecture instructor who said the same about his creations – Let the engineers figure out how to make it stand up.
His stuff was crap. Imagine a bearing wall from the 2nd floor coming down on the side of an archway so that a special beam needed to be installed to hold up the 2nd floor rather than just putting the wall a couple feet over on top of the 1st floor wall. His designs were irrational and more costly to the client than necessary due to his dismissal of how a building stands and carries loads.

So is a lot of the stuff coming out of the major auto manufacturers these days. Lots of black plastic fake windows, fake vents, oversized faux grilles which are half blocked off, gunslot window that make you need cameras, screens and motion sensors, random slashes and folds in the sheetmetal that go nowhere and do nothing, half-a dozen different ways to select “drive” or “park”. So much designer-y tacked-on crap that adds “style” and cost, but no value, functionality or elegance.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

This is why I stated that there’s a systemic failure in the schooling. It’s not your fault, and it’s not your instructors’ fault. At this point, it’s cultural.

We have designers passing the very real problems they create to the engineers instead of simply designing something capable of being manufactured and used.

Somehow the emphasis on results has been almost entirely discarded. This is part of why right-wingers glorify ignorance and are so very critical of higher education lately.

Learning the production details in the studio just means that their school has failed to teach them what they’re really designing.

Space
Space
15 days ago

Just add that to the list of reasons to be critical of higher education including an entire generation being told that college was required no matter what. And going into massive debt and making less than high school graduates in skilled jobs.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
15 days ago
Reply to  Space

It’s OK, we’ll teach them what they really need to know in the Master’s Degree program.

::two years later::

Oh, did I say you’d learn competence in your Master’s Degree program? I meant to say Doctorate Program. So sorry about that.

::years later::

No, silly graduate! You learn basic competence in your post-degree residency.

(Not true, but not completely untrue.)

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
15 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I consider this a difference in opinion about the scope of work that should be required. Your opinion is clearly the current dominant view in the auto design world, and will likely remain so for a very long time.

I don’t think it’s unfair at all to ask a car designer to design a car that can actually be manufactured.

It seems like these designs are a whole lot more “Art Show” than “Auto Design Show” and I’m always disappointed by that. I want to see things that excite me, but that also make sense as an actual transportation vehicle.

Sure, early concepts are about ideas and form and concept and emotion and all those other intangibles, and to “capture” that, you throw some practicality out the window.

But the real skill of a designer, and what they’re paid to do, is to distill ideas into an actual product. Automotive design has been getting a pass that other design disciplines don’t get “because it’s complicated”.

If auto designers received commission bonuses for actual products on the market, like many other designers, every presented design would be a whole lot less half-baked.

Historically, it seems to me that the designs presented were generally more coherent and manufacturable all the way until the 1960s or so. I think they’ve been getting worse ever since.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
14 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Regarding the primary point:
I’ve never stated that a single person needs to have sole responsibility for an entire automobile! I only agreed with someone else here that many of these designs have absolutely NO regard for actual use in the real world or how to actually make them. To me, that’s simply a degree of carelessness that makes them automotive art, not design.

At student level, it’s more about showing they have the required creativity, vocational skils, critical thinking and a strong portfolio (which should have a spread of work from wild to more realistic).

In my experience, it’s critical thinking and vocational skills that are most difficult to find. Most seem more proud of their creativity and their portfolio.

Regarding personal interaction here:
You make a lot of assumptions about me that are simply not true. I’m more familiar with creative processes than you’re aware. Familiar enough to offer general critique the automotive process in contrast to others.

I don’t, however, state any credentials on the internet because I’m very private and prefer to have discussions based on the discussions themselves. I get a clearer picture when I read comments for their content.

For example, the primary reason I respect you so much individually has almost nothing to do with your credentials and experience; it’s because the work you present here is of excellent quality, and you always argue your points coherently and passionately.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
14 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I’m an Automotive Design Engineer.

I know how to make stuff because I spent 5 years at uni learning it all. Then I spent decades learning all the neat tricks to make stuff efficiently with high quality and low cost that can be accurately assembled by anyone.

You can’t expect graduate stylists to know how stuff is made. They’ve just spent five years learning how to do something else, something very complex.

I don’t know the internal review procedures inside styling departments because they are incredibly secretive, but it’s very rare that anything that gets shown to engineers is impossible to make, or wouldn’t work. Annoying to make, sure, all the time, but very, very few occasions where you can point and laugh.

If you want to see cars that have been styled by people who know how to make stuff you should look at the output from the UK kit-car industry. Mostly awkward and occasionally inexcusably hideous.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
14 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

The swoopy sketches and early models are never intended to get made. Come to that the first draft of a engineering component nearly always goes in the bin too. The design process (both the arty kind I can’t do and the mechanical kind I can do) needs to start somewhere.

For every person who hates that concept cars have wheels that are too big there must be at least one who hates the gigantic wheel arch gap on production cars that’s been engineered-in for snow chain clearance they never use.

Ryan Friesen
Ryan Friesen
14 days ago

So, to recap. There is too much art in the art but it’s not the artists’ fault; the culture is just too tolerant of art. It would be better if artists only got paid according to what engineers build. Things were great until 60 years ago, but lately it’s all just gone to hell. Did I miss anything?

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
14 days ago
Reply to  Ryan Friesen

I get that you want to create a snappy response in a way that’s favorable to your view, but I’d rather have you state your own view than to have you distort mine.

There’s a difference between artists, designers, and engineers.

An artist presents ideas, often with no clue how to manufacture. That’s what most of these designs are. They’re good art. I’d hesitate to call them design. Just because some of them are themed to a particular need doesn’t automatically make them into design.

Designers in most fields design actual products. The either take existing art or create their own art, and then render it with an eye to creating something that can exist in the real world. They have to have some knowledge of manufacturing to be competent.

Engineers further refine the designs so that they can function in the real world, and work out the details about how to produce things.

There’s also a lot of blurring of lines. We’re having a discussion of where in the blur we each consider the border between disciplines… But in my mind, a designer always has a considerably higher responsibility than an artist, informed by a decent general knowledge of the real world requirements for existing as a product, and informed by knowledge of methods to manufacture that type of product. And I simply see very little of that here.

Designers typically want a pass from checking the messy details, and in the automotive field, they’ve more or less gained it over the years.

Again, I’ve seen tens of thousands of good ideas over the years. But many years of experience has proven that in most cases, it’s execution that brings in the profit. No product, no margin. Ideas alone are dead common and almost worthless.

I think I’ve stated my view sufficiently, I don’t need you to crudely and inaccurately restate it again, but feel free if you like.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
14 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

This is why industrial design > transportation design 😛

Good design is successful within constraints, not ignoring them.

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