The last days of combustion

We’re finally at the concluding chapter of (to borrow a lovely phase by a friend and colleague Stephen Bayley) the ‘age of combustion’. I say finally, because ever since I stumbled upon the automotive world (quite by chance some decades ago) we’ve been promised a new beginning, a more progressive landscape of non-polluting transport that isn’t showy, isn’t congesting cities and isn’t harming the planet. And it has taken a mighty... Read More

Genesis chief creative officer Luc Donckerwolke on building a new car brand

Luc Donckerwolke, Genesis chief creative officer To make all this happen, Genesis has brought on-board Luc Donckerwolke who, as chief creative officer, will lead design now and into the future. This is a highly calculated move since in a career spanning some 30 years, the Belgian designer has been instrumental in re-shaping car brands such as Lamborghini, Audi, Bentley and more. He has a way of rethinking even the most conservative carmakers to... Read More

See fashion designer Paul Smith’s imaginative and sustainable MINI Strip

The body is left raw and unpainted revealing scratches from the manufacturing process. The panoramic roof is made of recycled and recyclable light Perspex. The cabin is entirely leather and chrome-free with seats covered in reusable knitted fabric, dashboard made of salvaged cork and seatbelts from repurposed climbing rope — all of which are fully recyclable. This is the MINI Strip, a custom-built unique electric car exploring ideas around... Read More

How ideas from RCA students for a megacity taxi in 2040 can impact on our future

Discussions on smart cities tend to miss the cultural side – the various social landscapes, which is why these designs by Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility students – asked to imagine a taxi in a speculative megacity of 2040 – are worth looking into. A couple offer some sophisticated critical design thinking too with ideas that may have seemed impossible dreams before the pandemic made all things impossible possible.... Read More

On the road: sustainable car brand Polestar’s first car

The ecological car revolution has been more of a slow evolution. Talk of hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid electrics, pure EVs has been going on for a long time and it has taken some strict legislation to finally push carmakers to react and commit. So it is exciting to finally see and drive more progressive products like this Polestar 1. This modest car isn’t quite fully sustainable, but the company that’s making it will be producing a family... Read More

Guido, the self-driving, self-mixing urban bar-on-demand

Guido is a self-driving robotics bar by the Italian design and research studio Carlo Ratti and robotics bartender experts Makr Shakr. It uses an autonomous vehicles platform and features two mechanical arms that can precisely prepare and serve any cocktail combination in a matter of seconds. Much like an Uber of the bar world, Guido offers an app-based on-demand system with wider ambitions to create social hubs in otherwise neglected urban areas.... Read More

Tokyo to Paris: a car as an expression of David Bowie

This is a brilliantly curious project. ‘A portrait of db’ is a sort of art car, created as an expression of David Bowie and his life and music. It is also a tribute to the singer-songwriter following his death in 2016. Yet the story happens to begin some 21 years ago in Tokyo with a young Takumi Yamamoto, the former Citroën designer responsible for GranTurismo‘s GT by Citroën. ‘A portrait of db’ will come alive as... Read More

Japan House London presents ‘Prototyping in Tokyo’ to illustrate design-led innovation

‘I’m told there is something Japanese in my prototyping,’ says professor Yamanaka Shunji, ‘that it has this “Japanese style”’, he smiles as he guides us around ‘Prototyping in Tokyo: Illustrating Design-led Innovation’ (until 17 March, 2019). The design engineer and University of Tokyo professor continues: ‘I don’t go about trying to be so, but perhaps there is something in the attitude that is Japanese.’ We are at the latest... Read More

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... Read More

Best new books on architecture and design for 2018

Once-upon-a-time design theory was considered art history’s inferior sibling – a bit of a side-subject. When in 1989 Terence Conran and Stephen Bayley opened the doors to the cubic white Design Museum at Shad Thames, it was such a revelation. Finally, the applied arts were given a platform to talk. Some years later I recall my excitement at discovering a university course in Design History that promised to dissect and analyse the subject in... Read More

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