RCA Show: designers rethink the automobile

A flat-pack IKEA-style relief vehicle, a car born through the sound of music, a self-healing vehicle and a 21st century interpretation of the ancient burial ritual – these were some of the more inspired ideas at the Royal College of Art class of 2015 Vehicle Design graduation show.

As the car evolves to be so much more than a mode of transport, tasked to be a home and office on the move, to seamlessly connect our worlds and to do so ecologically, students of transport design are expected to offer ideas that explore mobility far and beyond the metal sculpture, the package.

The second chapter in the life of the automobile offers an exciting opportunity for new dialogues – multiple narratives for the car. Sadly not all emerging designers are capable of such speculative thinking. The RCA, though, is renowned for nurturing some leading talent in all spheres of creativity, so it was good to see many of the students working on ideas that could help form the future of mobility.

No Infrastructure Needed by Simon Haynes is a simple self-assembly flat-pack vehicle visualised mainly as a relief vehicle for places where there are no viable infrastructure for manufacturing. It is also assessing new manufacturing processes ‘like 4D printing and examining how this will affect the design,’ he says.

As a critic of our attitude to death, Limbo, Last Journey is an intriguing concept that imagines the old burial rituals for the modern day. The creator, Florian Kainz believes dying is the greatest sin of our times. This exposed vessel, therefore, parades the deceased through the streets to its final destination, highlighting their life stories through projections on the vehicle and on the road.

Tianqin Bao celebrates the dents and damages, what is seen as flaws on the car. His Scar is a self-healing vehicle that digitally maps out and repairs parts in 3D printing so that the they become design features thus, ‘nurturing a long-lasting bond between man and car,’ he says.

Farhana Safa’s Kinesis tool works with liquid metal shifting shape when a current is applied, with, she explains, ‘electro-sculpting promoting exploration of forms, producing unified structures and surfaces’ for seamless exterior and interior design.

Elsewhere, Yibo Wu turns his autonomous vehicle into a playground for adults, Sepehr Amirseyed imagines an autonomous Bugatti super car that maintains the value of such a precious product once the traditional car qualities have given way to driverless mobility, and Carl Craven’s luxurious exploration yacht will see the super rich sail to exotic, forbidden territories in comfort.

Finally, in Simplicity Meet Passion Tony Lien explores how the sound and vibration of his violin can help visualise a more harmonised vehicle shape whilst simultaneously capturing the spirit of the music. The wire and plastic sculpture is, he says, about ‘visualising the bow of a violin and documenting each movement as the music progresses’

Nargess Banks


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