Ford partners with design students to create futuristic car interiors
Image credit: Ravensbourne
Car manufacturer Ford challenged a group of London students to design futuristic interiors for an autonomous Ford Fiesta.
As autonomous vehicles allow manufacturers to move away from the typical dashboard functions required today, companies are being given the opportunity to reimagine car interiors. In a new challenge designed to give students an insight into working in the sector, Ford challenged six groups from Ravensbourne College, London, to come up with designs for a future autonomous Fiesta.
“The ideas had great potential,” says Idrees Rasouli, BA (Hons) Interior Design Environment Architectures course leader. “One focused on an interior that purifies air through novel use of natural materials and recycling mechanisms, another design was of a flexible interior that could have multiple uses – such as for moving home or delivering cargo.
“One team proposed a future where the interior would be designed and maintained by the user through the use of 3D printing in local car dealerships – almost like open-source design where users could compose a car’s interior based on their needs.”
At a special event last week, shortlisted teams presented their concepts to a panel of judges, as well as students and staff at Ravensbourne. The panel was made up of Ford’s chief of interior design Jens Siber and chief of exterior design Ivan Telesca, Ravensbourne associate dean Layton Reid and course leader Rasoili.
“I was thrilled by the quality of work presented by the students,” Siber says. “A huge amount of time is spent ensuring that the Ford Fiesta’s interiors reflect what our customers desire. The students have helped show workable interiors of the future.”
Three teams – Dies Nox, Iris and Nomad – were chosen by the judges to have their concepts showcased at the company’s design centre in Cologne, Germany. Nomad’s futuristic ideas included using sensory technology to monitor passengers’ body temperature and vital organs to ensure safety, with Iris using body morphing, free-rolling seats that can transport passengers out of the vehicle.
The Dies Nox Fiesta design included three interior ‘modes’; Drive, SkyNight and Pic Nic. Each changes the interior’s layout completely, even letting passengers lie down and stargaze using an app amalgamated into the ceiling window screen. It also embraced the use of plant-based materials in its design; using steam-curved bamboo to provide structural support and pineapple leather for seating upholstery.
“[This is] inspired by the intrinsic characteristics of the pineapple leaf fibers, its textural expression carries unique features such as softness, pliability and strength,” the team highlighted.
An overall winner will be chosen by Ford’s design team in June, with team members invited over for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cologne workshop, plus a masterclass with Ford designers, this coming autumn.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain experience about what it’s like to work for one of Britain’s biggest and foremost car brands. Winners will experience the true nature of the design process, approach and environment where the future of vehicles are designed,” says Rasouli.
“Opportunities like this ensure our students learn the skills needed to thrive in industry and the chance to transfer their architectural and interior design skills into vehicle design, thus making them highly employable.”