SABIC and Royal College of Art Name Winners of VISIcON Automotive Lighting Design Competition
SABIC and London’s Royal College of Art (RCA) recently named the winners of the VISIcON automotive lighting design competition during an awards ceremony at the university’s Kensington campus. The SABIC-sponsored four-month program challenged post-graduate students from the RCA’s Vehicle Design and Textiles Design programmes to develop innovative automotive lighting concepts using SABIC materials.
The students worked on both an individual and team level. VISIcON’s individual grand prize was awarded to Daniel Quinlan (Ireland) with Franklin Brown (United States) and Stephen Russell (United Kingdom) as close runners-up. Pierre Andlauer and Henri Peugeot (France), Selim Benhabib (Turkey) and Cherica Haye (United Kingdom) earned top honours for the best team design. Haye, a second year Textiles Design student, was also chosen as the grand award winner in the materials research category.
The VISIcON project served as a career preparatory experience for the RCA’s participating students and helped showcase the potential of high-performance plastic materials to take automotive design in new directions.
“We congratulate the winning student designers and all of the participants for fully embracing the challenge behind VISIcON,” said Scott Fallon, general manager, automotive, with SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business. “It’s clear to us that the students took full advantage of the design freedom that our thermoplastic solutions offer. Their concepts wowed us and provided a glimpse into the future of automotive lighting and vehicle design, from bold new styling possibilities to expanded functionality. We look forward to building off the inspiration from VISIcON and helping our customers to apply the latest technology and enhance lighting on their vehicles.”
The students’ work was presented to a jury made up of professional automotive designers, SABIC and RCA representatives and other external experts.
“All of the concepts and models that we saw at VISIcON demonstrated feats of imagination, collaboration and innovation,” said Richard Woolley, Land Rover’s Advanced Design Studio Director and one of VISIcON’s jury members. “This was a fantastic project for these young designers. I was impressed by the students’ creativity and thoroughly enjoyed seeing their visions of how plastics can bring about positive change to car lighting and mobility in the future.”
The VISIcON project allowed for a free movement of ideas and thinking across design disciplines (Vehicle Design, Textiles and Industrial Design) and included the Vehicle Design department’s three automotive studios – Automark (brand identity), Urban Flow (exterior design) and Inside Out (interior design).
“This cross-pollination of ideas across studios and disciplines was a big strength of the VISIcON project,” said Professor Dale Harrow, head of RCA’s Vehicle Design department. “We believe in developing designers who can take a broader view and are open to different perspectives. VISIcON allowed us to do just that and, backed by SABIC’s expertise in material solutions, enabled the students to create some truly unique pieces of work.”
SABIC awarded study bursaries to the individual award winners and runner-ups. Students from the winning and runner-up teams received Apple iPads.
VISIcON is the second creative design project that SABIC has sponsored at the RCA. In 2005/2006, SABIC challenged student teams through its PLASTicon competition to explore and experiment with a broad range of plastic technologies to identify new possibilities for vehicle design.
SABIC has a broad materials portfolio to address needs and trends in automotive lighting. SABIC materials – used in a range of lighting components, from fog lamps to the latest light emitting diode (LED) designs for front, rear and interior lighting – are designed to deliver benefits such as high heat optical performance, enhanced aesthetics, and weight and cost savings. SABIC’s selection of materials for automotive lighting include various grades from its LEXAN, ULTEM, VALOX and STAMAX resin product lines.
Student work overview
Top honours in the individual vehicle design category went to Daniel Quinlan’s ‘Enope’ concept. A bioluminescent squid served as inspiration. The vehicle’s axes move like the squid, allowing both ends of the vehicle to pivot and light its surroundings more naturally. Light passes through from the inner belly of the vehicle, projecting onto the road.
Franklin Brown, first runner-up in the individual vehicle design category, developed this electric sports coupe concept, which is customisable through the use of advanced 3D printing technology. Both the exterior and interior use lighting elements to achieve new design functionality; light is used to communicate information about the state of the vehicle and its movement both to the driver and others.
Inspired by the idea of light as the centre of the universe, Brown’s concept used light to communicate and illuminate the ‘soul’ of the object. Plastic is an enabler because of its transparency, aesthetic value and the many design possibilities it makes available.
Brown with his vehicle model, which features multiple lighting effects.
The vehicle design category’s second runner-up Stephen Russell modeled his vehicle out of folded transparent sheets. His project focused mostly on the use of natural light and led to the discovery of a new formal design language, which inspired many of his peer RCA students throughout the course of the SABIC-sponsored VISIcON competition.
A digital rendering of Russell’s concept.
The SABIC-sponsored VISIcON project included collaborative work at the team level, made up of students from the RCA’s Vehicle Design and Textiles Design departments. Top team honors went to Pierre Andlauer, Henri Peugeot, Selim Benhabib and Cherica Haye. They adopted what they called the ‘Hypereality’ (hyper reality) theme, which combined three highly individual designs into one sculptural vision. Lighting is used to enhance natural elements like wind and rain and create the impression of vehicle speed.
VISIcON’s winning team with SABIC award presenters at the Royal College of Art. From left to right: Pierre Andlauer, Selim Benhabib, Henri Peugeot; Geert Jan Schellekens, chief automotive designer, SABIC; Scott Fallon, general manager, automotive, SABIC; and Cherica Haye.
The Lava team of Nicholas Dunderdale, Kym Moorehouse, Sean Parsons and Jannis Carius took runner-up honours in VISIcON’s team category. The raw, natural force of volcanoes and lava was the main inspiration for the team’s direction, together with different interpretations of such inner glowing cores – radiating light as well as warmth into the vehicle’s interior – and beyond, through gaps between the floating vehicle’s body panels.
The ‘core’ was the central theme for the Lava team’s research. As a counter-reaction against impersonal and soulless products, the team decided to focus on designs with a heart and soul – an ‘inner light’ – bringing back character and life to the future of personal transportation. Lizete Druka’s material research led to a common aesthetic of neutrally coloured exteriors, glowing with bright inner light effects.
The VISIcON jury decided to add an award to recognise RCA student Zishi Han for extensive work on his ‘Expan’ concept, which aims to create the illusion of dimension with light. To help drivers and passengers feel less stressed and trapped within a limited space during long-distance driving, Han’s solution uses the reflections of light strips to form virtual surfaces, creating additional ‘imaginary’ space.
Cherica Haye, a second year Textiles Design student, was chosen as the grand award winner in the materials research category. Her composition of plastic light guides with intermittently changing colours and high-value weavings combines the aesthetics of different materials in a unique display.
Runner-up in VISIcON’s materials research category was Textiles Design student Sofie Van Aelbroeck. She researched the interplay between transparent plastics and light, exploring different ways to create flexible structures. Her final work, shown here, demonstrates how light can change transparent objects and create new forms and images that might not normally be seen until the light shines through.
This ice block sculpture is the work of VISIcON team Franklin Brown and Inkook Jung. The team sought to create a dynamic shape, drawing upon the glowing character of plastic. Light enters at the bottom of the plastic rods; it then refracts and spreads out when passing through the rods’ round surfaces, creating a blurred lighting effect around the abstract automotive shape.
VISIcON team Xiangyin Yao, Peter ten Klooster, Hoe Young Hwang and Gemma Waggett mixed three concepts together – personalisation, desire and flowing highlights – to demonstrate ‘flow identity’. Where Yao concentrated on desire and mystery as a guiding principle for her design, Hwang experimented with reflections that could be manipulated in the LEXAN resin skin; whereas Ten Klooster sought and found inspiration in algorithms, interpreting music and colour into randomly generated shapes – mimicking the possibilities of plastics as building blocks for his translucent, light emitting exterior design.
The Omni-Tour is an autonomous bus designed for use in London 2040. The vehicle has a ightweight transparent exterior design, which is used for projection of tourist information. This VISIcON model is the creation of RCA students Jed Sheahan, Yuan Fang, Rob Crick and Daisy Ellis.
The SABIC X-plane model of Yalim Erkaya, ‘Vera’ Jiyeong Park and Alexander Ibbett sought to demonstrate how vehicle users, vehicles and other road users can be connected through light. A prominent light ring around the vehicle is used for first level messaging and is complemented with an array of projections to communicate with the environment.
Safety is the inspiration behind the ‘Geodia’ concept. The team behind it experimented with light and plastics and developed a more organic structure and theme, with safety shells and jellyfish serving as reference points. The shape of these organisms led to the main form and inspired the textiles used inside the sculpture. Light moves through the patterns of the vehicle to indicate safety. VISIcON team members were Francesco Binaggia, Alexander Brink and Alex McCarthy.
The VISIcON team behind this display sought to use plastic in a therapeutic way to communicate tranquillity. Through the process of dip dying, the team tinted samples of distorted plastic to create a watery surface language infused with colour. A range of different effects is created by light, passing through the plastic material. Team members were Minwoo Hwang, Ji Won Yun, Akash Patel, Moa Gullmarstam and Yingchuan Liu.
German Jannis Carius combined diverse material traits into his ‘lightweight luxury’ concept. Taking inspiration from swan feathers and ballet dancers, his design not only aims to embody an aesthetic language that illustrates lightweight material; it also attempts to translate the feather leitmotiv to fiber optic lighting functions.
Inkook Jung’s sports vehicle concept was constructed in various layers, using materials ranging from recycled waste plastic to protective body panels, a large clear canopy and translucent lighting elements. The colours of the lit up vehicle body communicated vehicle speed, as they were being activated by the ever-changing airflow around the car.
A return to the basic appeal of motor vehicles was at the core of Kym Moorhouse’s design. Advanced light effects that seem modelled on the human nervous system radiate through the car’s transparent cockpit and move freely over its body panels.
Layers of LEXAN polycarbonate resin form the social cocoon that is the key theme of Nicholas Dunderdale’s design for an autonomous recreational vehicle. A caroussel layout features individual seats that can freely rotate around a central light core in the car’s interior – much like the cosy warmth of a traditional camp fire.
Dutchman Peter ten Klooster’s ‘Resonate’ vehicle concept was created following a highly unusual methodology. Special software was used to convert music into graphic patterns, which were subsequently developed into a three-dimensional and transparent vehicle body shape. Next, OLED technology was used to emit colours that corresponded with various types of music – therewith communicating the driver’s state of mind to other road users.
Korean student Jiyeong ‘Vera’ Park developed a light car for the modern working mother. A wide array of new lighting functions were invented to assist and organise the owner in her daily busy mix of activities; a combination of projected light messages, augmented reality and a descript, lit up ‘information ring’ on the vehicle’s exterior all contribute to a purpose-driven design.
Sixteen judges evaluated the students’ projects. Members of the jury included: (Front row, left to right): Matteo Conti (RCA Vehicle Design), Scott Fallon (SABIC), Geert Jan Schellekens (SABIC), Oliver Le Grice (Land Rover), Richard Woolley (Land Rover), Julian Thomson (Jaguar) and Dale Harrow (RCA Vehicle Design). Second row, left to right): Geoff Draper (the international automotive lighting and light signalling expert group Groupe de Travail “Bruxelles 1952”), Suki Cheema (RCA Textiles Design), Erhard Bruss (SABIC), Cynthia Charwick-Bland (RCA Vehicle Design).