above> the float | yuchen cai | winner of the renault and central saint martins ual competition / see below for winning details
it’s good to see car companies support design with their incredible technologies, vision, and a little sex appeal here and there. this year, another example of this support: groupe renault became the designjunction london headline sponsor. renault has been making cars since 1898. today it’s an international multi-brand group, selling more than 3.18 million vehicles in 125 countries in 2016. to meet the major technological challenges of the future the group is harnessing its three brands, renault, dacia and renault samsung motors, together with electric vehicles and the unique alliance with nissan. with a new team in formula 1 and a strong commitment to formula e, renault sees motorsport as a vector of innovation and brand awareness.
since 2010, anthony lo, vice-president, exterior design, has been at the forefront of the global design-led reinvention of the groupe renault brands. in 2017, for the second year, group renault partners and challenges with central saint martins master candidates in industrial design to a competition to design cars for a changing transport landscape. the winner to spend two weeks with senior designers at renault’s design studios in paris. lo returns to lead the judging panel. central saint martins, located in king’s cross, is internationally renowned for the creative energy of it’s students. alumni include: alexander mcqueen, stella mccartney, terrance conran, lee broom, bill moggridge/ideo, danielle de luliis/apple, antony joseph/joseph joseph, and antony gormley.
the competition was judged by two of renault’s senior design team – anthony lo, and françois leboine, chief exterior designer – as well as nick rhodes, central saint martins programme director, product ceramic & industrial design and nick clinton, creative director of fusion 2k ltd. the competition was whittled down from 15 students to three semi-finalists over the summer – stephanie chang liu for her flo design, which included three different sized vehicles for three different uses, tuna yenici for his emotive vehicle named vue and yuchen cai for her vision of vehicles moving around using maglev technology, called the float.
yuchen cai was announced as the winning student by anthony lo during designjunction 2017’s opening evening. cai created the float, a vision of a car that will provide a new way of connecting with people, a new form of mobility and portrays an idea of how drivers can be more open and social to the outside world as autonomy becomes ever popular. a model of this vision will be on display at designjunction between 21st and 24th september in granary square, in kings cross, london.
rhodes, said: “it’s a very great pleasure to work an important design-led partner such as renault. for the second year, renault has presented ma industrial design students with a major challenge to address. from a technological viewpoint, the prospect of vehicle autonomy is fascinating, but it’s also critical to hold in mind that such opportunities also present significant challenges to how people interact and their experience of future cities. recognition of the success of the projects here lies in their ability to describe broader conceptions of what driverless vehicles might become and how we may come to live with them.”
[the float – winning entry] due to its form and function, cai’s vision of the vehicle of the future looks like a bubble when in transit. rather than moving on wheels, the vehicle uses magnetic levitation (maglev) technology. made with transparent glass on the exterior and with silver seats, it has a futuristic design aesthetic.
the concept of the design is based around the car becoming more of a social space. in cai’s design, the car of the future provides a new way of connecting with people through tessellation, connecting with the outside world more thanks to the application of large swathes of glass and will also be ‘non-directional’ with the ability to move in any direction at any time without the need to turn around.
such is the design of cai’s autonomous vehicle concept, it allows pods for either one or two people to be made. through the geometry of these designs, numerous pods can be attached via a magnetic belt that runs around the exterior so more than two people can travel together. ingress and egress is easy thanks to swivelling bucket seats coupled with sliding doors, akin to those found on the london underground. a control on the seats enables the passenger to rotate their seat, open up a sound system to speak with passengers in pods connected to theirs and change the opacity of the glass – providing exclusivity or inclusivity according to the passenger’s requirements.
cai’s winning idea also included a smartphone app with which users would be able to rent a float at the touch of a button. similar to how one would hail an uber or other taxis in the present day, pods would be available to rent for one journey or for numerous days.
[flo] below > stephanie chang liu’s flo design incorporated three separate vehicles – one for freight transport, one for personal transport and a third for shared transport – a direction for the bus or taxi of the future. the initial concept behind flo came from the notion of a ‘seamless journey’. for stephanie, a seamless journey meant ‘a constant flow of goods and people across a city’.
[vue] below > tuna yenici created vue, a unique take on establishing an emotional bond between the users and vehicles of the future. inspired by the relationship between humans and their pets, vue will be sad to see the owner go after its job is done for the day or greet the owner when they first get into it for the day, like a pet.
[renault at designjunction 2017] below > renault’s stand space allows a rare glimpse inside the minds of their car designers with an immersive installation entitled life designed. the bespoke two-storey temporary edifice houses two feature projects. the winning model as well as the designs of all three finalists from the competition will be on display with interactive information on each. upstairs, the multi-award-winning renault trezor concept car will be shown in the uk for the first time and displays the expansion of renault’s design strategy. the trezor, with its welcoming style and being geared towards driving pleasure, complements the csm finalists design display downstairs, by embodying future mobility and automotive passion.
above > life design pavilion below > trezor