How will in-car UX design evolve with AI, AR, and 5G?

AutonoMIA is a UX demonstrator designed by Pininfarina

Modern car design is complex. No longer is it a question of sculpting advanced surfaces and forming beautiful shapes. The focus now is increasingly on the customer journey – directly our every little move even before we pick up the keys. So it comes with little surprise that creative thinkers are playing a bigger role in user experience design, and helping to shape its future direction.

To understand the process and future possibilities, I spoke with Pininfarina’s experience design director David Carvalho. He discusses the latest AutonoMIA system – a personalized, intuitive, and immersive UX system that will grow with 5G, AI, and AR. See the interview here

Insight: Paolo Pininfarina on the past and future of the famed Italian design studio

Pininfarina is responsible for some of the most enduring and exotic motor cars in design history. Founded by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina in 1930, the carrozzeria has sketched products that have become icons for Ferrari, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo – to name a few. The studio works within the wider creative world too, designing jets, yachtstrains, buses, and other industrial products. It is also expanding its architecture practice with some outstanding projects. As the marque celebrates its 90th birthday, I used the opportunity to chat with the chair and grandson of the founder, Paolo Pininfarina, to see where he sees the company heading now and in the future. Read the full interview here

Best car designs of 2018: Luxury, clean, autonomous

It has been an interesting year for the motor car as the auto world navigates the post-petrol age. Whereas sustainable driving used to mean compromising on style and performance – think the awkward-looking G-Wiz – it appears we need not lose much, if anything, from the golden age of the motor car. As it happens, electric cars are an awful lot of fun to drive and the new mechanics allow for a great deal of creative imagination. Here are my top car designs of 2018.

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Pininfarina on material and colour trends in car design

Materials, and colour and trim will increasingly occupy a more central role in automotive design. We catch up with Fabio Filippini, chief creative officer at Pininfarina, who shares his thoughts on the growing trends in this area and explores how his team at the Italian design consultancy are navigating the future of the interior.

How would you define the current major material, and colour and trim trends?

The trend is in offering more variety and options, and I think the level of difference ambiances and specific personalisation [a company offers] is the biggest selling factor. This applies to hyper luxury cars for extreme tailoring, but is also true of say the Smart city car.

We’re also seeing bright colours, patterns and textures that give the feeling of being hand-made, the feeling of craftsmanship.

What has excited you recently with new materials, new manufacturing processes and technologies?

Textile optical fibre that transmits light, special finishing for carbon fibre, exposed exteriors and interiors – these are all ideas we have shared with our other departments. In terms of sustainability, the reuse of natural fibres and making composite substitutes out of natural fibre.

Any specific examples…

Graphene is a new frontier of entertainment material. This is a new composite made of carbon that is clean and can transmit electricity as well as being resistant, flexible and react to shape. It can be used on surfaces to be interactive and is good for screens. It can offer a high level of flexibility and react to stimulation so it is a big step for the interface system.

I’m excited about processes whereby you can mould and treat surfaces to create patterns and textures. For example, 3D printing and digital software, used in architecture and design, can create intricate patterns in unexpected ways. The boundaries are not so defined anymore.

How much do you share ideas with other design sectors from the world of furniture, interiors, product design and fashion?

We are privileged to have different departments working with other products – furniture, sailing boats, trains, airline… so there is a great deal of good contamination from the different disciplines of creativity. We also keep up with global creativity.

Would the treatment be very different when dealing with the emission free car of the future and does it require a stronger focus on exploring sustainable materials?

The evolution of electric vehicles and sustainable technology is very relevant and design has to represent this, take advantage of it. Yes, the expression and colour should reflect the advanced technology. When you work with EV you feel more motivated to break with the codes. The customer is also ready to accept it which is double the reason not to make them look like traditional cars.

Any examples…

Yes, our Cambiano concept of 2012 where we used quite a bit of traditional wood, but in a provocative way. This is a luxury electric car, therefore it has to be technological and innovative. Yet we used recycled wood in a crude yet refined way, and placed in unexpected areas. So even though the element of luxury feeling recalls the traditional code, it still broke with tradition.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous articles on Pininfarina here.

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Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
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Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in picture

You really can’t get much more glamorous than Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The annual event that is held in May on the shores of Italy’s picturesque Lake Como serves as a beauty contest for the world’s most exotic, rare, desirable cars and motorcycles. Here the wealthy and enthusiasts in their thousands gather to celebrate automobile art, to bid for one at the auction that follows – and there are usually a few new concepts cars thrown in to keep the event relevant and contemporary.

This year’s event was no exception with 50 cars and 35 motorcycles from widely varying eras in automotive history and six new prototypes on show. Awards were handed out to the 1948 Soviet Union’s IMZ M-35K motorcycle, a 350 cc twin-cylinder boxer, the 1938 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic, and the Alfa Romeo Disco Volante by Touring for the best concept car on show.

Lake Como also provided the backdrop for the world premiere of the BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupé and BMW Concept Ninety, a car and a motorcycle that hint at the company’s future thinking. The Gran Lusso is how the Italian design consultant envisages an ultra luxurious BMW coupé. For the German carmaker the appeal of working with an independent firm like Pininfarina is that it allows for a different take on its cars, the design – these are fresh eyes that bring in new visions.

Karim Habib, head of design, says the appeal is that you get ‘another very different and special angle on facets like luxury and exclusivity’. Fabio Filippini, who directs Pininfarina design, agrees: ‘When two such tradition-rich and experienced brands join forces to turn a vision into reality, something utterly new and exciting emerges. From start to finish, this project was defined by a mutual respect for the identity of the other company.’

With ‘90 years of BMW Motorrad’ anniversary as its focal point, the company also put on a rather special exhibition at the nearby Villa Erba featuring over 30 creations from its history including the BMW R 32 – the marque’s first motorcycle made in 1923. It proved an ideal platform for unveiling the BMW Concept Ninety, a bike, the company says, that ‘resurrects the spirit of the emotionally charged superbike’.

Ola Stenegard, head of vehicle design at BMW Motorrad, explains: ‘We want to show how reduced and pure an emotional BMW motorcycle can be.’ This is a sporty boxer – its basic proportions take their cue from the forebear that inspired this concept, the BMW R 90 S. The fairing, tank, seat and tail instantly signal its family connection. The rich, vibrant shade is also a nod to the legendary Daytona Orange paintwork of the machine.

At the end of the long weekend, the RM Auctions produced total sales of over £23m with five cars exceeding £1m and 11 surpassing their pre-sale estimates. The top sale though came from a 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione, a fine piece of automotive art, that went for some £8.4m – after all this is an automotive beauty contest.

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