In this year’s competition, we have seen some of the world’s most exciting student design talent submit their incredible visions of what future vehicle exteriors will look like 20-30 years from now.
After a rigorous and challenging judging process, below we are thrilled to present the three finalists for the overall award, who are the winners for each of the competition’s three regions.
The overall winner will be announced at the 2019 Car Design New LA Forum on 20 November.
Project Andarta: Finding Fulfillment
Project Andarta, Jake Lockyer’s winning European entry in the Magna Global Bold Perspective Award, is a Level 5 autonomous vehicle that helps users attain “self fulfillment.”
In an interesting twist, the Magna award helped the young designer find a fulfilling job and launch a promising career.
“A massive thank you to Magna,” said Lockyer, a recent graduate of England’s Coventry University and a London designer working on future electric vehicles for Arrival, a startup. “Project Andarta got me the job. My new employers sent me a message on LinkedIn when they saw the announcement. It’s been an unbelievable opportunity.”
At a glance, Project Andarta looks like a post-modern version of a Le Mans racecar, with its a low-slung silhouette and a silver exterior paint treatment designed to look like an oil slick on water.
But the car challenges automotive design in subtle and unexpected ways.
Side doors are skipped in this concept vehicle named for a Celtic mother goddess. Instead, a large front opening allows occupants to enter and exit the vehicle standing up, in a “more majestic way,” the designer explained. The cabin features “side of the pool” seating designed to give the interior a laid-back feeling.
Project Andarta is also about “personal growth,” said Lockyer, who grew up in Inverness, Scotland and is deeply into mindfulness and meditation.
With the help of artificial intelligence, Project Andarta takes the traditional GT or Grand Touring vehicle segment to the next level by allowing the car to direct the journey with an eye toward cultural, intellectual and spiritual pursuits. (There is a built-in element of surprise, as well as an opt-out feature, if the trip is not to your liking.)
“Imagine going into a showroom of cars and picking one based on what it can show you about the world and yourself, and the adventures it could take you on?” Lockyer said. “I hope this provides a good challenge to the conventions laid down by traditional GT cars, current perceptions of A.I. and autonomy, and a new idea of what a car means to its user.”
Lockyer, the son of two Royal Air Force veterans, became obsessed with automotive design at age nine when he received an encyclopedia called “Fast Cars.”
His passion led to a college degree in automotive and transport design in 2019, and a design internship at David Brown Automotive, a custom builder of 1960s-inspired vehicles. During that time, Lockyer worked on a three-person team to create the Speedback Silverstone Edition, a limited-edition production car that debuted at the 2018 Geneva Auto Show.
Today, he gets his design ideas while “noodling on guitar or going for a walk.” He also keeps a dream journal.
“I wake up and go ‘I need to draw that,’” he said.
One dream is to take “the automobile and make it something far more emotionally involved than it is today,” Lockyer said, noting that Magna is helping to make that a reality by being “a big support to young designers.”
Mixing Chinese Culture and Technology
Reaching back into ancient Chinese history, the winners of the China region for the Magna Global Bold Perspective Award took inspiration from traditional kite making for their futuristic design.
Kites originally were used hundreds of years ago by the Chinese to signal approaching caravans or to foretell good traveling over water. Some of the earliest kites were even able to hold men, according to legend.
Little wonder that co-winners Bolin Sun and Gong Jinyun, industrial design students from Dalian University, envisioned kites as the jumping-off point for a quiet, light and fast car for 20-30 years into the future.
Dubbed “Swifter,” their concept vehicle features a dramatic exterior made up of wing-like blades that the judges praised for its “beautiful and sculptural statement.”
The shape-shifting vehicle also is patterned after the delicate paper used to make kites and allows for the “deformability” of the car’s design, the young designers said.
They call Swifter a “mix of Chinese culture and technology.”
“We believe that the young generation loves freedom and adventure, but that they also want a relaxing, quiet and private three-dimensional space for travel,” Sun and Jinyun said.
Flexibility is the focus of the Swifter’s interior, which can expand to accommodate a mattress and transform into a tent for outdoor adventure.
“The goal for many designs is to provide more than just transportation – it is also to travel well, experience a beautiful journey and feel excited about the final destination,” said Larry Erickson, global director of Magna Exteriors Design Group. “The Swifter creatively blends Bolin Sun and Gong Jinyun’s culture, innovative use of materials and the adventure of travel. Achieving all those things in a beautiful form is what makes this entry stand out.”
Magna Award: A Showcase for Young Designers
In his first design competition, Zehao “West” Zhang created an autonomous Honda for urban nomads that won the North American prize in the Magna Global Bold Perspective Award.
“Contests like the one sponsored by Magna are so important for young designers because they are a good way to improve our design skills and show the industry what we can do,” said Zhang, a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design and an interior designer for Geely Design in South Pasadena, California.
Contestants were asked to develop innovative vehicle exterior designs for 20-30 years into the future.
Zhang said he started the winning entry with a question: “Why should I spend 20K a year paying for someone else’s home when I can build my own and take it with me?”
His minivan-sized concept vehicle, which revolves around creativity and travel, features a customizable interior. Users book the vehicle for nine hours a day and at night plug it into a “living port” that provides access to laundry, shower and restroom facilities, along with battery charging.
Judge Jay Shuster from Pixar Animation praised Zhang’s design for “addressing an important aspect of life for many people,” namely, affordable housing in overcrowded cities.
Looking back, Zhang said he became steeped in interior vehicle design as a young boy growing up in Xuzhou, China. His mother was the sales manager at a local dealership and would let him sit in vehicles on the showroom floor after school.
But when he came to the U.S. at age 18, he decided to major in accounting at Pasadena City College.
“I quickly realized that was not my lifetime passion,” Zhang said. “Car design is what I really want to do. My mother encouraged me to pursue that dream.”
His website, westzhangdesign.com, showcases his automotive portfolio, everything from a flying car to an interior “privacy” concept inspired by a hijab, the veil worn by some Muslim women. That concept features a cover that slides out from the shell surrounding the seat to cover the rider’s face and body, something that could be used in a future ride-sharing vehicle.
Today, Zhang said he spends lots of time “sketching and sketching” and prowling around the exhibits that display everything from Hollywood dream machines to Japanese supercars at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
“I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been there,” he said.
His six-month-old son Zeon may follow in his father’s footsteps, judging by his toy collection.
“All of my friends buy him cars,” Zhang said. “He doesn’t know how to play with them, but he already has close to 100.”