Let’s face it Car Design is going through a strange decade and several design professionals, lately, are starting to criticize some of the latest concept cars and car companies design’s orientations as insane. It is easy to go on Facebook and read negative or critical comments about this model or that one.
We can also read some excellent design articles written by designer Peter Stevens telling us a lot about Car Design evolution in the last 20 years, and also how the concept of Design and beauty has changed. Design codes are changing! (read his articles you will love it)
We have nostaligic designs, super powerfull concept cars, lux designs, Chinese designs (currently developping their skills), we have mass production car companies proposing their future vision of automobile use, at so on.
We have many suppliers developing R&D centers to test and propose new technologies to the car world for next mobility solutions to come, and concepts of vehicle usage. Digital world, Autonomous driving, flying car solutions, new services like sharing… Some of them are powerful and dominant market companies like Apple or Google investing a lot of money.
We also have design schools changing their ways of teaching design and training young talents, in a few cases they are doing pretty well in other cases they are just following the trend not helping their students to search for a credible alternative creativity.
Now, it is easy to criticize. We see videos and photos online, we do not know anything about the reasons behind a concept and if we do not like it we start expressing our disagreement on our social network provoking other reactions and very easly the comment becomes a study case. To be honest I do not like this type of action too much because very often we cannot have all the infos to make an honest judgement specially about concept cars.
In my opinion what is important to understand is that the combination of all situations I described before are bringing us to a different Design process approach.
Today is very different from 30 years ago when I started to be a designer for real at Fiat Design Center, and it is still very different from 19 years ago when I joined Renault Design.
Tomorrow’s societies will have new needs in terms of mobility and it is clear that with all new big cities growing around the globe (look at China, India and what about future of Africa?) vehicles must change, car companies will face new hard challenges to produce the right range of vehicles according to countries’ needs.
Technology is forcing us to change drasticly our Design architectures. For example let’s look at car interiors. HMI and digital technologies are giving designers new frontieres to explore and change the classical look of interiors, to this let’s add all pack of new materials (some from natural environment and eco-friendly). Here we are looking at sketches proposals that we (designers of my age) probably would have never sketched.
Today it seems to me that car industry is trying to move fast with people’s life style needs (that are changing at high speed) and also trying not to fall behind technology development, a lot of money goes into that and every car company has its own market strategy to follow having, as a goal, to keep up with selling numbers and clients satisfaction.
Since Tesla arrived to the production market there is a competition about making the fastest EV supercar on earth, is this insane? Probably yes because we still run at 30Km/h in town and no more than 110Km/h on freeway. However, there are many people that love to have a car tha does have those types of performances, that fast crazy accelleration, that emotion or simply that brand!
On the other hand we have also some good eccessive design examples appeared in some car shows, even if some of those concepts might look extreme or made with bad taste they still are a product of studies, researches and tests trying to be the answer to a given problem. It is the first attempt which will be, probably, perfectioned later after all the critics, even the funny or bad ones.
We also have the wise concepts, those that are a pure research for a new creative expression with some intelligent technologies adopted to anticipate to the public how, soon, their cars will be on the road. Great opportunity to feel the market and still have the time to make the right changes at the right time.
Let’s not forget our young society’s behaviour & life style! When I was 16 years old I was dreaming to get my driver licence to finally drive a car. Today our kids do not really care so much, here where I live many people of 23 or 30 years of age do not have a driver licence or do not drive at all and they do not care about cars, but they do care about mobility systems.
Car Design is evolving faster than expected and people are changing their way of living because the world is changing so let’s just accept it and see what and how things will go. We are probably living into a transiction era and it makes things a bit difficult to accept.
I think that we will have some really cool stuff in the next future, our mobility system will be very different and lots of new ways of using vehicles will probably help tomorrow’s people to have better services and an easier life. At least I hope 🙂
(By the way I love the concept in the photo by designer Da Feng)