Engaging design was a very interesting presentation this week by the McLaren Automotive design studio, held at the new Ascot McLaren showroom. The select guests were party to an intimate occasion with the design team who were revealing some of the decision making processes and design activities involved in producing the Sports Series.
Design operations manager Mark Roberts, who is one of the forces behind the initiative, introduced the evening before handing over to Rob Melville, chief designer, who gave an insightful presentation on their approach to understanding the brand and producing a design that encapsulates everything McLaren stands for.
What was intriguing about this presentation, and evening as a whole, was the apparent move to change how McLaren is perceived. Anyone who has been to McLaren’s technical centre cannot fail to be impressed by the experience, where meticulous attention to detail is everywhere – from the clinically clean Formula 1 car assembly bays to the alignment of the visitor book pens. This precision and technical approach has made McLaren Racing the incredible championship winning team it is, and laid the foundation for producing its dynamic and technically brilliant road cars.
So what was different about the presentation – personality. The event at a showroom, not technical centre, designers mixing with guests in a relaxed atmosphere with a presentation showing individual’s hobbies and design influences of sharks – nature influencing the form not drag co-efficient figures. The original MP4-12C’s message of incredible aerodynamics and stability through corners was there, but the language used was now different. McLaren’s success is down to Ron Dennis’ focus and drive for perfection, but it is the Bruce McLaren story being used to win over the hearts, in addition to the minds, of drivers.
Senior designer Paul Howse on this occasion went through the process from sketch to production, with interesting asides on the ‘friendly’ discussions between design and engineering and the continual defining and refining of the sculpted surfaces, an entertaining description that kept everyone’s attention throughout.
With the showroom divided in to design studio, alias modelling office, clay modelling area, future technologies of Oculus and augmented reality, the full complement of McLaren models on display and the design ‘family’ on hand to answer questions and demonstrate skills, it was a very slick and well-judged presentation.