Graduating college is a monumental occasion for any student looking to venture into this world and begin making their contributions. Some schools take their rookie alumni contributions to heart and groom them to not only impact the world we live in but make an everlasting mark from the time they cross the stage to receive their diploma. The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA is one such school that has been grooming a large portion of the world's transportation designers for over 60 years. This past weekend we had a chance to drop by their Spring 2013 grad show held on the very grounds alumni have called home since the 1970s.
After honorary guest Dieter Rams addressed the students on the importance of designing with purpose and preaching his "less but better" approach on design philosophy, families embraced their graduating students as they now are ready to leave their mark on the world of design. Students experience a grueling workload for several years to call themselves an Art Center graduate. Some even take breaks to intern around the world at various major design studios.
After walking through the Transportation Design room we came across a wonderful selection of European concepts that we just had to share.
Marcus' Alfa Romeo was inspired take on the likes of sedan coupés like the Mercedes-Benz CLS, Porsche Panamera and Audi A7. The growing segment of performance coupé sedans has taken the world by storm and with the ever-increasing brand strength Alfa Romeo is gaining it seemed like the next reasonable pool for the iconic Italian carmaker to dip its toes into. Now that Alfa Romeo is returning to the U.S. providing a car that isn't so out of reach like the coveted 8C or the soon to be sold out 4C, Marcus' Alfa is meant to target consumers that imagined themselves owning an Alfa in their younger years but never had the opportunity to buy one before the company left the U.S. in 1995. Now with rumors of Alfa Romeo's full return to the U.S., these same Americans have grown older and have the chance to buy the car of their dreams, but will most likely be in a different stage of their lives. They are no longer the single, reckless, young dreamer that would purchase a Duetto in earlier years, but are now older, more sophisticated and have families and responsibilities, thus they need an Alfa that embodies the same race-bred passion Alfa Romeo is known for but with more usable space to carry their loved ones. This project was an answer to that idea, provide a sedan with the same romance Alfa is known for, but with the function of a full fledged sedan.
Looking to for a modern application of a real research and development vehicle for Mercedes-Benz, Philipp developed the P11 concept to explore the farthest reaches of concept car technology. Everything from manufacturing process, to vehicle exploration and even forecasting into future worlds where the exterior becomes the exoskeleton people depend on for safety. Inspired by the iconic SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, Philipp's P111 lends subtle surface treatments to help in aerodynamics and overall sex appeal. Finishing the car off in a volcano orange certainly drew the crowd in and begged the question, "That's a Mercedes?!". Upon Philipp's concept breakdown I think this move for the Bavarian automaker would be much more entertaining than an electric SLS - in my opinion anyways.
Alfa Romeo CXE
Swinging for the fences and developing three concept models all bordering on the edge of futuristic overload, Hanbin Youn showcased his stunningly detailed concept cars in front of a packed house at the Grad Show. Starting with his Alfa Romeo concept takes the literal definition of Alfa and was inspired by the very compounds said to have birthed life. Their microscopic shapes and interconnectivity brought along a concept car that is provocative and hinges on the complex harmony of life itself - the harmony of gravity and expansion. The two pods are bonded together much like you would find DNA strands. Certainly something I wouldn't mind tooling around in when I turn 70. Although, my kids my enjoy it more by that time.
Maserati Crossover GT
Han's Maserati crossover GT concept is a CUV based on two Italian automotive themes, performance and elegance. At first glance we notice a hint of futuristic Gran Tourismo in the grille DNA and low rake cabin. Elegance oozes form ever surface, from the majestic front hood and fender along with a fuselage design face with captivating grille detail. The body has a performance theme that runs through the entire body, not to mention its hybrid twin-turbo V8 engine that helps push the super luxury along to any mall or weekend destination The crossover GT is definitely a class of its own which captures both sport racing heritage and Italian elegance.
In 2050, the world will go through an age of technological transitions. Hopefully by then we will be living in a cybernetic world where computer technology and biology come together in a singularity. Today, Porsche is all about integrating man and machine. This Porsche is initially set to be driven by a human driver, however, it can be equipped with a cybernetic shell where the onboard artificial intelligence chip can be tailored to meet the drivers needs and plugged into the car. When the "brain chip" is activated, it allows the integrated human interface to be "born" again as the Porsche, thus creating the idea of singularity between man and the machine. And it helps that its Terminator plus Judge Dredd good looks had onlookers in a frenzy trying to capture every angle of the car.
Volkswagen Rhino Beetle
We have all come to adore the VW Beetle. From its first inception to its modern interpretation, the beetle is a piece of automobilia that lives in a fond part of everybodys memory. But what about the future? Can the Beetle name sake support a spin off line of various "capable" models? Bradley Kasper took this question on and answered with an enthusiastic Yes! With the Rhino Beetle Bradley was noticing a growing trend in the sub brand. Such as the iPod having many variations and the Prius being a sub brand of Toyota now with all its variations. He wanted to create a sub brand within VW. The Beetle was the perfect platform. The rhino beetle proved to be a worthy subject to draw his inspiration and became the logical choice. The Rhino Beetle shares the platform of the Golf which the Tiguan and 2012 Beetle are on as well. Bradley lengthened the wheelbase to give it a better stance and to get the extra half doors in it. "Some of the design elements come from the different ideas i had during sketching. Such as the backpack type rear cargo area and the split headlights and taillights." Bradley told us during our chat next to his model. The result is a Beetle concept taking on roads the chassis hasn't seen since the Frankenstein Baja buggy days.
Audi Rally King
The Audi R8 changed the face of the company as we know it forever. The car has spun the world into frenzy, demanding more performance and design influence across its entire "A" lineup. So what about Audi's new found success in the crossover and SUV market, its "Q" line? Tony Chen, who now works for the Audi Design Center in Santa Monica, was posed this question and decided to develop a one-off halo concept to reimagine the entire "Q" line up. His Rally King takes the very best parts of Audi's technological advancements like their Quattro e-tron electric drivetrain and their new Q3 platform and turns it on its head. Rather than looking for the fastest on-road experience, Tony puts both technologies into one highly modified chassis capable of taking on the worst terrains this world has to offer. All while inspiring new DNA into a line Audi is clearly invested in for the long haul. Who knows, by the time the dust settles during the Zombie Apocalypse, you may want something more luxurious than a blood soaked Jeep.