Sunday, February 20, 2011

Avant-garde car concepts for Opel Vauxhall

Opel has recently launched a competition in order to explore a design strategy based on the idea of the car becoming a lounge. Keeping in mind the slogan ´Sculptural artistry meets German precision´, design students from all over the world set off to the forefront of automotive design to create their dream car. The results are fascinatingly diverse, in some cases radically advanced in terms of technology, in other cases in terms of form language.

Here are some of the top entries.

Victor Uribe envisioned a car that goes wild on technology integration, while still creating an integral design that fits the idea of a car as a lounge space perfectly. The car consists of a flowing form that floats above its spherical wheels using magnetic levitation technology. Next to that it has all kinds of intelligent features such as sensors, projectors, even a Kinect driving interaction possibility, that sometimes feel a little superfluous, and in some cases plain dangerous. Perhaps the strongest feature of this design is the interior that allows one person to be a seated driver, while two passengers can lay down flat on intelligent, shape-changing lounge surfaces.

Javier Albizu entered the contest with a concept that is based on a deformable exterior. It can for example open and close the air intake on the front in order to either cool its electric motors, or improve its aerodynamic properties. The smooth hull of the car is made of a high-tech skin-like material that incorporates solar energy collectors, graphene to conduct electricity, and magnets to change its shape. The deformation that occurs is a stretching and contracting of the hull over its entire length, quite analogous to the car being one large muscle. This property changes the length of the car, and can be convenient in switching from a city-cruise to the hasty highway.

A girl named Lina takes on the challenge in a very different, very feminine way. She brings the fresh breeze that I feel is so needed in the still largely technology-oriented, male-dominated industrial design industry. Through intuitive and free-flowing sketches Lina has reached a very promising start for a car of the future. Her aesthetics clearly have evolved through her process, which she has suffused with peace, calmth, and feeling. And the final result is very powerful in subconsciously putting us in a similar state of mind.

Pierin Giacomo might have created the most holistic design of the competition in terms of experience and look and feel of both exterior and interior. Stepping into his bio-inspired car must feel like becoming absorbed by a flower. I can see this having a very soothing effect on people.

A last concept to mention is 'Opel Dynamis' by Acatrinei Lucian Nicolae. This very radically futuristic vehicle has some interesting innovations, such as electroactive polymers to adjust seats, 'Buckypaper' as structural reinforcement in the hull, and a flexible LCD display that serves as a dashboard.

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