A touch of Intangible Design
Automotive OEMs, besides nurturing its brand’s values, have always faced two significant challenges: design processes and time-to-market. In a marketplace where a total design offer changes faster than any planned product obsolescence, design innovation is the commodity most sought-after. A means of putting new designs onto the assembly line quickly is therefore constantly high on the agenda. This is where Design and Execution could dynamically fuse into a holistic product launch strategy. Elgin DS is a consultancy that sheds new light on an integral digital modelling approach in the context of a contemporary design challenge. What is of particular interest to us is a cause and effect relationship between the innovative use of technologies, design talent, and project performance. Throughout time, vehicle design methods, which have migrated from coachbuilders to automobile manufacturers, and from hand sculpted clay models to digitally conceived designs, have both expressed new design trends and contributed to significant booms in the car market. The expansion of the automotive market and a grasp of how the market works at present can sometimes be taken for granted, but some of the preceding developments – such as, for instance, the introduction of the concept car as both a tool for design process and a clever marketing device – are still resonant in current design culture, and indeed, in our purchasing habits. Equally, “planned obsolescence”, a notion that affects the brand’s strategies at present, descends from early “auto design” heritage. Design processes have undergone major technological changes and are still in a state of development. In the early days, while car bodies had been fitted on a separately produced chassis, vehicles were bodied by independent coachbuilders. Some of them, such as Bertone, Pininfarina, or Zagato, have found their own workstyles. Their abilities to develop both aesthetic and functional innovation has helped them transcend coachbuilding to become renowned design houses. The arrival of unibody construction, however, made custom car bodying impossible as it channelled the art of design towards the modern compact car. The unibody approach offered increased vehicle safety, weight reduction, improved space utilisation, and ease of manufacture. It helped arrange faster assembly lines and considerably reduced the time-to-market. Subsequently, carmakers brought the bodying skills in-house, starting a bigger swing in product development capacities.