- ABOUT US _ Drive is an Automotive Design Consultancy building long term relationships with design-driven companies worldwide, designing products that enhance their brand's DNA and position in the market place.
At drive we have found that art direction and story boarding are often over looked by clients, but the clarity and time saving of everyone having a clear understanding of the end result is invaluable.
For an Art Director the use of storyboards is the first step in making the vision that they have in their mind’s eye a reality.
Mood boards and reference images can cause confusion as it is rare that one reference image can completely sum up the composition and lighting that has been envisioned.
Just like a car designer’s initial sketch, the intent can be captured quickly whilst still leaving room for one’s imagination to develop the idea.
The Goodwood Member’s Meetings are enjoyable for all the usual reasons associated with this famous venue, getting close to exotic and rare cars, interesting characters both behind the wheel and on the banks at Lavant, and very expensive cars being pushed to their limits. A mix of cars and memories – Goodwood, Touring Cars and Tom Walkinshaw – intoxicating.
The sight of the Group One Touring Cars in the paddock races me back to the late 70’s and early 80’s, when I used to spend every second weekend at a circuit around Britain. As my brother Martin pursued his favoured career, car design being a fall back, racing a Formula Ford in various championships; Donnington Park, Brands Hatch and Silverstone were as familiar to me as my parents’ garden.
The likes of Richard Longman, Win Percy and Tony Dron, were names that meant more to me than James Hunt. The sight of Richard in his Mini hassling and embarrassing the larger more powerful cars was re-enacted at each round, and that mix of machinery is brought to life at Goodwood in the Gerry Marshall Trophy races.
As a youngster it was the paddock in the evenings, meeting drivers and sitting in the cars as mechanics worked on them, “as you’re in there, make yourself useful, push the brake”, where I got the most enjoyment. Listening in on their banter about ‘if only’, ‘the lack of sponsorship’ and from the mechanics “he couldn’t drive a nail in a plank” was fascinating and intoxicating.
Seeing the TWR XJR-15s at Goodwood reminded me of those conversations because more often than not, talk would eventually make reference to Tom Walkinshaw, who was a pretty quick driver and quite a character by all accounts too. Stories of intrigue about his racing exploits accompanied hot cups of tea and bacon butties. How he would find a ‘special’ limited production model made for the sand dunes in the desert, it’s particularly large wheel arch inners allowing the touring car to run unfeasibly close to the ground, and moving a number of cars from one warehouse to another ‘doubling’ production numbers for compliance with championship entry requirements. True or not now the stories of folklore.
But the success of the man was unquestionable, setting up Tom Walkinshaw Racing in 1975, to build and run his race cars for the touring car championship. It went on to become an incredibly successful racing outfit, including winning Le Mans in partnership with Jaguar with a car designed by Ross Brawn, and even racing Volvo estates – although not a racing success certainly a PR one!
The spin off from the racing was production of performance aftermarket parts for road cars such as the Mazda RX7 and more famously the Jaguar XJR-S, at which point Walkinshaw realised the potential for this service and started TWR Design. This new design consultancy, with Peter Stevens, attracted one Ian Callum from Ford as designer, and clients such as Volvo, Mazda and HSV all benefiting from their input, with the Aston Martin DB7 being the most prolific project. In the early 90’s I was able to see from the inside the work they were doing, as I provided alias modelling expertise. The close knit, efficient and boisterous team of designers and clay modellers outputting an incredible range of concepts and production models.
As I reflect on the weekend at Goodwood, and review my own experiences as Drive goes into its 25th year, I can fully appreciate what Tom Walkinshaw achieved, and how driven, motivating and business savvy he must have been to build a race team into a company peaking at around 1500 employees worldwide, that went on to design what is one of the most beautiful production cars ever.
Circular Design is not about Wheels – Circular Design, Circular Economy, and how it is applied to the Automotive sector
One of a series of closed Discussion Sessions that Drive hosted over the lock down, dealt with Circular designa nd the Circular Economy. Design leaders from all aspects of the transportation and travel sector (rail, aviation, architecture, interior design, engineering, materials experts, sustainability consultants, circular design experts and, naturally, automotive), gave their insights and this paper aims to capture some of the ideas discussed that relate to the topic of circular design, and how it could be applied to the automotive sector. We by no means think we have all the answers, but it’s a conversation Drive are keen to support and contribute to.
The future audience and their appetite for genuine sustainability
Sustainability has become a buzz-word in recent years, but it is not just about making products that are eco-friendly, it is also about ensuring that your business will still be relevant in 10, 50 or even 100 years’ time. Corporate decision makers have seen that core-value-alignment to ‘sustainable’ goals creates positive brand sentiment, fuels growth, boosts customer engagement and forges greater trust with stakeholders. 70% of employees want to work for purpose-driven companies, and almost 90% of consumers expect corporations to meet a higher set of standards than just ‘shareholder return’; they want to see commitment to long-term goals that serve everyone, not just a short-term fiscal profit goal for a select few. Recent consumer insight has also indicated that products that offer genuine sustainability (of the environmental kind) grew twice as fast as their contemporaries in the same category. It appears that doing good business is good for business.
The Circular Economy – a new revenue stream
Circular design principles support and fuel a circular economy. This is essentially an economic model that generates new revenue streams by identifying opportunities to monetise the return-cycle of a product once its initial life cycle is spent, deconstructing things back into their raw elements and making those resources available for the next generation of products. Materials, components and products are regenerated with the aim of stimulating growth without impacting the natural world or damaging valuable ecosystems. Value is created both through long-term cost savings and the development of new market opportunities by creating new jobs in recycling, repair, refurbishment and all the supporting service industries. It can potentially deliver the ‘triple bottom line’ of the environment, humankind, and profitability, not just the latter part.
There is, however, two distinctly different paths to this; the first is a circular system that addresses biological residue where materials are safely returned to the environment after use – composting for want of a better phrase. The second is a technical cycle, where products and parts are designed to be re-usable, be that in their current form or deconstructed back into their most basic ingredients to be used again. While circular design is about taking responsibility for the entire lifespan of a product, not just the ‘usable’ segment, a circular economy finds ways to mitigate the impact of a reduced production line by monetising the return aspect of the fuller cycle.
It’s not all about EV’s.
The rapid development and success of the new EV models is a great thing, but circular design is not about abandoning the ICE and moving wholesale to EV powertrains. Circular design is, in essence, about a design model that moves away from the previous ‘take-make-dispose’ linear model and to a ‘make-use-return’ circle where the end of a life cycle supports the creation of a new one. It considers how we can maximise the resources we currently have available (minimising any need for new resources to be plundered) and designs objects to be as recyclable as possible, thus fueling the creation and generation of future products from the same resource pool.
In fact, the application of a circular philosophy may mean that the future is not necessarily the death of the ICE powertrain. As recently as April 2021 Toyota entered a liquid-hydrogen powered car in the Super Taikyu Series endurance race. The car was relatively competitive, and only required minimal conversions to the fuel supply and injection systems, although hydrogen engine consumption sits at around 4.7 mpg – so there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Furthermore, there are companies looking to develop synthetic fuels through a Power-and-Biogas-to-Liquid process to enable fuel options that would enable us to power existing engines and propulsion systems, meaning we avoid the route of costly conversions or having to implement entirely new infrastructures. If the electricity necessary for the conversion process were generated from renewable energy sources we could have a viable carbon-neutral (even negative) fuel for the ICE powertrain that would avoid the toxic levels of pollution generated in the production of lithium-ION EV batteries. We’re not knocking the EV movement by any stretch, but we ought to look at it with fully open eyes, and also not limit our conversations or considerations to EV-only.
Which resources to utilise
Not everything about circular design will be wholly palatable – there is a current trend towards vegan interiors within the automotive sector, and while that certainly appeals to the ethical principles of both reducing industrialised agriculture and upcycling legacy plastics, the fact is over 70% of all cow hides are burned. A circular model could argue that rather than using plastics to create leathers for our interiors we ought to maximise the resources available and use 100% of the real leather that is available as a by-product of the meat industry. We’re not saying that we have to revert to leather seats in every car, just that we need to fully understand the current landscape in its entirety to make truly informed decisions.
With regards to plastic in its many forms, the development of products like 3D-Knit (made from 100% recycled PET bottles) or Nylon6 (made from discarded fishing nets) certainly helps to address the ‘legacy plastic’ issue while also producing great options for interior fabrics. Equally in the past few years companies like BASF and INEOS have also made huge progress in the development of viable ‘chemical recycling’ options – where plastics are broken down into their raw elemental ingredients. This would allow all plastics, including those wafer-thin corner-shop bags, to be recycled, and would mean that new plastic products would not require virgin resources. Currently it is estimated that only 8.7% of all plastic ever produced has, or can be, recycled, compared to the 95-98% of all aluminium ever produced that is still in use.
We have also seen the emergence of new materials that being both performance benefits and ecological benefits. Since 2011 Swiss company Bcomp has been developing sustainable materials for a variety of applications, the most recent of which have been included in the Polestar Precept in a number of ways including a front splitter made from a Flax based material rather than carbon fibre.
In very simple terms Circular design is about the responsible choice of suppliers and materials specified. We could choose materials that look luxurious or expensive, or we could choose materials that are renewable, have a low carbon footprint, are recyclable / biodegradable, and that perform as well if not better than our existing options. In all our conversations during the Discussion Sessions this ‘reversed approach’ was one championed by the CMF and interiors specialists time and time again.
What else we need …
We are by no means presenting a fully formed solution to the current situation that humanity faces, be those rising temperatures, reduced resources, increased waste and litter or any of the other challenges that we can no longer ignore. Designing alone cannot get us there, but exploring these ideas alongside engineers, marketeers, manufacturers etc. (i.e.: everybody involved should be involved – we need a circular conversation to find a circular solution) will mean that we are all pulling in the same direction, and that must increase our chances of finding an escape route. Ultimately as designers of any sort we need to continually educate ourselves, learn from adjacent disciplines, and share our knowledge.
The EU brought in the ‘Right to Repair’ act in 2021 which required manufacturers of electrical goods to make their products repairable (and offer the service) for at least 10 years after first coming to market – no more ‘planned obsolescence’. Electrolux have developed and introduced a ‘Hardware as a Service’ model where customers subscribe to use the latest robot vacuum cleaner the Pure i9. Similarly in the fashion sector ON running shoes recently developed the Cyclone – not only is the shoe made from 100% renewable materials it is 100% recyclable. Customers do not buy a pair of Cyclones; they subscribe to a service that replaces old shoes with new ones once the first pair have been returned – you don’t throw your pair away when they ‘die’ but return them for recycling / deconstruction / reconstruction. After 8 years of development Nike released a ‘materials sustainability index’ in 2011, solely to enable designers to select materials with low environmental impacts. This in turn lead to the development of the Space Hippie range – inspired by the concept of life on Mars, where “materials are scarce and there is no resupply mission”. Made from offcuts, incorporating scrap from the factory floors, the fly-knit yarn uses 85-90% recycled content. There are lessons that can be learned from colleagues and contemporaries, we just need to be engaged in those conversations.
As designers it is our duty to ensure that we’re as informed as possible, so constant self-education is key, but we can’t do it alone from our own little silo. As Aristotle said ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ – we can help make each other’s contributions to that discussion greater and more impactful, we just need to start working at this together.
linkedin.com bmw i vision circular image courtesy of BMW press https://www.press.bmwgroup.com/
Due to the high quality expected, Drive often creates Super yacht animations and CG images for brokers and naval architects, imparting their experience of dealing with car brands such as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and McLaren Automotive.
Drive have always shared the expertise and methodologies gained in automotive design with other product and transportation studios. Our aim is to provide a quality service, building our reputation of bringing real value to our clients. All knowledge gained from other industries is then incorporated into our work flows and brings benefit to all our clients across all sectors.
Working with yacht manufacturers’ marketing teams as well as supporting super yacht brokers, naval architects and yacht designers, is an enjoyable experience allowing our creative team to work on projects without 4 wheels.
Searching for Automotive Designer recruitment agencies? With the continued growth of online databases such as LinkedIn has recruitment become so simple anyone can do it – making agencies redundant?
We believe this isn’t the case and indeed the role of a good recruitment specialist is even more important for both a business and the person seeking a new role.
With a large proportion of people on LinkedIn connected to 3,000+ individuals it is assumed that if they post an advert then, miraculously, they will have the right person apply or an individual will see the advert for the position they crave. In most cases the right person doesn’t spend their time sitting on-line to see the job post sandwiched between the adverts and ‘if 5 dogs = Banana, what is **? ‘.
Advertising every position on your website is also an option but brings in multiple applications which can make meaningful applicants harder to spot.
At drive our approach is more targeted – we are not looking to fill 500 positions. We aim to match the most experienced and talented design personnel with the industry’s leading design teams; we are also looking to support our valued clients (individuals and companies) by matching personalities, talent and experience with the right roles.
We believe that if candidates are happier to send a CV via a portal, rather than spending some time with us discussing their experiences and ambitions, then they probably aren’t the people that our clients are looking for.
Being trusted advisors to some of the world’s most prestigious automotive studios and influential individuals, we take our responsibilities seriously and realise that our reputation is dependent on these relationships. Using our personal approach we understand the studio’s aims, select the correct personalities with relevant professional expertise to ensure a successful working relationship for both the studios and individuals alike.