How to be­come a car de­signer

Two young South Africans have forged ca­reers as car de­sign­ers abroad. This is how they did it

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - by: Ni­col Louw Ni­col­l_­car­mag

DOWN here at the south­ern tip of Africa, we’re far re­moved from the global cen­tres of au­to­mo­tive de­sign … not ideal if your dream is to be­come a car de­signer. This ge­o­graph­i­cal fact, how­ever, has not stopped tal­ented and pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­u­als from carv­ing out ca­reers in this field (see “Home-grown pride”) and the lat­est among these are two young South Africans based in Europe. We had a chat with them to find out more about the chal­lenges they faced and how they suc­cess­fully over­came them.

CAR: Where did your pas­sion for car de­sign start?

AJ: As a kid, I used to draw all the time, of­ten cars. It all changed at around 14 when I stum­bled across a Dis­cov­ery chan­nel se­ries ( Birth of a Sports Car), where they dis­cussed the de­sign of the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion BMW 6 Se­ries by Adrian van Hooy­donk. I was amazed how a sim­ple sketch could turn into a real pro­duc­tion car.

Are you also in­ter­ested in the wider field of art and de­sign?

Yes, for sure, and I al­most stud­ied to be­come an ar­chi­tect.

As a cre­ative, how else do you ex­press your artis­tic side?

My first love is oil paint­ing. It al­lows my cre­ativ­ity to flow without think­ing, con­trary to car de­sign re­quir­ing in­tel­lec­tual ef­fort.

Where did you study au­to­mo­tive de­sign?

I first stud­ied civil engi­neer­ing at Stel­len­bosch Uni­ver­sity and com­pleted my master’s de­gree in engi­neer­ing man­age­ment. There­after I worked as a civil en­gi­neer be­fore de­cid­ing to make a ca­reer move and fol­low my pas­sion for car de­sign. This led me to Italy where I ac­quired a three­year bur­sary to study a bachelor’s de­gree in trans­porta­tion de­sign at IAAD in Turin. My engi­neer­ing back­ground is both use­ful and a lim­i­ta­tion, as engi­neer­ing is bound by rules and reg­u­la­tions. How­ever, it taught me great work ethic.

How much does it cost to study?

It is pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive for South Africans to study abroad without a bur­sary be­cause the to­tal cost (in­clud­ing liv­ing ex­penses) can eas­ily ex­ceed R400 000 a year.

How did you get into the in­dus­try?

An in­dus­try meet­ing with sev­eral de­sign houses and OEMS dur­ing my stud­ies gave me im­por­tant con­tact de­tails and I got an of­fer af­ter send­ing out my de­sign port­fo­lio to these or­gan­i­sa­tions.

What clas­sic car rep­re­sents the pin­na­cle of car de­sign?

The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is per­fect from every an­gle and an ex­am­ple of beau­ti­ful, seam­less de­sign.

What clas­sic car would you rein­ter­pret in a mod­ern con­text?

I am not fond of re­designs, as they de­tract from the iconic sta­tus of the orig­i­nal. I would much rather fo­cus on a new fu­ture-clas­sic de­sign.

What ad­vice can you of­fer CAR read­ers as­pir­ing to be­come car de­sign­ers?

It’s dif­fi­cult from an emo­tional and fi­nan­cial point of view; you need to work in­cred­i­bly hard and make plenty of sac­ri­fices to suc­ceed. En­sure this is what you re­ally want in life and that you have the skills for the job. It cer­tainly isn’t im­pos­si­ble and it is worth­while in the end.

Ex­am­ples of work by de­signer An­dré Ja­cobs (see page 102): Fi­nal the­sis project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­finiti (¾ per­spec­tive).  Fi­nal the­sis project (top-view per­spec­tive).  De­sign pro­posal for third-year study group the­sis project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Range Rover.

 2017 Dal­lara Stradale de­signed by Granstu­dio, Parco Valentino Salone dell’au­to­mo­bile Torino. Sec­ond-year elec­tric SUV de­sign project.  Sec­ond-year su­per lux­ury coupé de­sign project.  2017 Honda de­sign con­test fi­nal­ist – fi­nal ren­der.  Nor­mal day of work­ing.

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