Art in Motion: Talk by The Royal College of Art’s Professor Dale Harrow, Head of Vehicle Design


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From cars with  goose bumps to ones with no bonnet, Professor Dale Harrow, Head of the Vehicle Design programme of the  Royal College of Art revealed during a talk at Messums Wiltshire last week, some of the ideas that students of car design are playing with and the importance of drawing and sculpting in forming the cars of the future.

‘Everything starts with a sketch and then we sculpt the cars in clay,’ he said. ‘The silhouette and centre line profile is the most important; If you get that right it all pulls around that. The aim is to make the car look as if its moving when it is standing still – to make it dynamic.’

It takes 18 months from the first sketch to production. Most prototypes are modelled in silver as this is the most flattering colour Harrow explained.  ‘When we design cars we consider how reflections work in the sculptural process. The challenge we have is packing people and engineering into one aesthetic form.’

He went on to talk about 3-d printing and intimated that people in the future might download car parts and put the elements together to build their own.

In 1928 General Motors talked about aesthetic styling. Now its marketing, strategy, manufacture, research and design, psychology, engineering, business and marketing, technical issues, social change and globalisation that guides production, he pointed out.

Sketches‘The Y Generation is not used to owning things; they want experiences’ he said. ‘Products are becoming services and the question for the car industry is how to make the service better.’

Audi has developed a living surface for one of its models which reacts to  different air temperatures like the hairs on your arm.

Much of the discussion after the talk focused on the autonomous cars of the future; 1.24 million people are killed in cars every year – a figure that could drop by 98 per cent with autonomous cars.

Showing images of cars that look more like rounded pods than the blade shaped cars of today, Harrow explained that the real challenge for his students is that 80 percent of the world has no access to mobility; a problem that the British are leading the world in trying to resolve.

‘The British have the most progressive and diverse car designers in the world and the skills and knowledge of the UK are unequalled,’ he concluded.

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