Our LA Forum kicked off with a fascinating keynote presentation from Andy Woodman, Senior Design Manager of Lego – a company that has sparked the imaginations of many a junior car designer and has worked with some of the biggest names in the vehicle sector. From flying BMW motorbikes to an imaginative autonomous Volvo loader (which we previously mentioned here), he gave us a large dose of inspiration and channeled the sheer joy of creativity.
Then we went into a wide-ranging session featuring four of the design world's most interesting and innovative creatives. The theme was ‘New Brands, New Ideas’, and the brief was to explain how the automotive brand landscape is being reinvented and reshaped.
Stefan Lamm, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design, explained the philosophy behind the EQ brand. Daimler’s fourth pillar in their luxury portfolio, EQ, he explained, is intended to bring the sheen of technology and an all-electric powertrain to the range. Pointing to the EQ Silver Arrow streamliner concept as an example, he mentioned that they are still trying to incorporate the company’s heritage into even their most futuristic models, giving the brand depth as well as tech appeal.
Byton’s Benoit Jacob expanded further on the launch of the K-Byte yesterday, with a strong argument that ‘sensors are the new spoilers’ – in other words, that car’s obvious, and highlighted, sensor arrays were a plus point for the brand in terms of showing off its advanced technology features. Consumers, he argued, now see technology as a valuable and covetable extra which shouldn't be hidden away. That, combined with Byton’s trademark large screens (and an interesting take on the steering-wheel screen, which he made deliberately less ‘designed’ than it could have been, in order not to distract from the display) gives the brand great distinctiveness.
In a wide-ranging meditation on the nature of a brand, Derek Jenkins, VP of Design for Lucid, referenced Audi, Mazda, Porsche and many other marketplace landmarks, to explain the way that a strong design philosophy bleeds through into every element of a brand, from marketing and sales to engineering and production. His brand, he said, was building that strong brand architecture from the beginning.
And in an adventurous and imaginative presentation, Daniel Darancou, VP of Design for CH-Auto’s Qiantu, took us on a grand tour of the current and future possibilities of his brand’s hugely customisable platforms, from swappable body panels and interior elements to a vast array of extras, then into prone-seated concepts, wheelchair-friendly transport solutions, drone-equipped flying modules, even windowless VR-equipped vehicles. If even half of the concepts he showed make it to production (and the firm has huge resources) it’ll be a wild ride.