Stories & Projects

A vision of mobility for tomorrow’s urban families

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In a collaboration with Lynk & Co, TD1 students explored a range of mobility solutions for urban families in 2030. Each team received a unique brief where they were challenged to draw inspiration from different cities, cultures and user groups.

Text: Jens Persson 

One of the key tenets of design is "understanding the user". A capable designer is expected to be able to envision the user perspective and identify their true needs and wants. First-year MFA student Liuyi Zhang took that sentiment to heart as she tried to delve deeper into Spanish culture for her project, WIGO. In fact, she ended up "going method". For her brief, Liuyi and her team member Mario Schaffeld were tasked with creating a vehicle for a group of co-living friends in Barcelona in 2030. In order to fully identify with her subjects Liuyi went the extra mile and began mimicking the daily patterns in Spanish life set by the siesta routine, that is the late afternoon nap. 

"For me, it wasn't hard to visualise a city with narrow streets, transportation limits, and a young and energetic vibe. What was more challenging was to understand certain parts of the lifestyle, for example where people would take a couple of hours to rest during the day time, which I had never experienced or even heard about. So, I also tried to have my break a bit longer during this exploration phase to feel why people do this and what kind of cultural environment that creates", says Liuyi Zhang.

WIGO Interior

The WIGO design concept that she developed with Mario Schaffeld speaks to a modern definition of what a family in 2030 may look like. WIGO combines the practical aspects of the small-size vehicle with elements of resting and relaxation. The distinctive interior design uses a rail system connecting moveable parts, where users can easily change the seat distributions to suit various scenarios. The standing-posture foldable seats allows for an efficient use of the limited space.

"Being responsible for the interior design, my challenge was to re-interprete the seating and resting experience in a car slim enough for the narrow streets of Barcelona. We tried different types of layouts through 3D-models and physical prototyping and came up with the final decision of four people sitting in a flexible, interactive setup. With the main posture being vertical, this layout truly uses space efficiency while aiming to keep a high level of comfort", says Liuyi Zhang.

A 360° vehicle design experience

Each year, first-year students at the MFA programme in Transportation Design are thrust into the "Vehicle Design"-course within less than two months of their arrival in Umeå. It's a comprehensive and challenging course encompassing the 360-degree experience of vehicle design - from basic research, to concept definition, to 2D ideation, to concept selection, to 3D development and finally the presentations. Even in a normal year, it's a lot to digest for fresh-faced students finding their feet as automotive designers. This year, the global pandemic changed the game completely. Students weren't able to meet physically in collaborative sessions and field trips were cancelled. According to Demian Horst, director for the MFA Programme in Transportation Design there were, besides the obvious drawbacks, some unexpected positives. 

"I was impressed to see that the digital collaboration tools could work out so smoothly. It was also rewarding to see that the student teams managed to achieve such a good level of integration and consistency in terms of form language and identity as they developed both interior and exterior design for each concept. I also think they were able to explore unconventional paths to better represent diversity and the development we see happening in society", says Demian Horst.

The pandemic silver lining

Realizing that they were going to miss out on the field trip to Lynk & Co's headquarters in Gothenburg the students were understandably disappointed. But in a roundabout way, the pandemic actually strengthened the company's engagement with the student projects. The review meetings with students became an opportunity for inspiration and positive distraction for the resident Lynk & Co designers, confined to their remote work spaces.

"I believe that the company realised this was a win-win situation. It added some extra motivation for their designers during challenging times. I think it was healthy for them to break the routine of "serious" remote work and isolation with creative sessions with our students. And when professional designers give feedback, they are themselves reflecting on their own work", says Demian Horst.

Lars Falk, Interior Design Leader at Lynk & Co Design, was excited to see students go beyond the conventional futuristic visions within mobility design.

"We were very impressed by the results from all of the groups' diverse and creative concepts that took such a large leap out of the 'Automotive Design box' and how well they were able to work under such a short amount of time.  We were also positively surprised by the innovative nature of the concepts which contained well thought out functionality and a high-level design aesthetic that fit the lives of our future customers", says Lars Falk.

The ultimate proof of the company's engagement was displayed during the final presentations. The virtual demonstrations of the design concepts were in fact joined by over 100 representatives from the company. Without doubt, a record of some sort.

"Having more than 100 participants from the company during the final presentation was a strong sign of appreciation for the process and the promises made by the student teams at earlier stages. Most of the design studio and nearly all design leadership were present. It was epic, clearly one positive aspect of the pandemic", says Demian Horst.

 

 student design concepts

WIGO

Shifting towards a more modern definition of what a family in 2030 may look like, the vehicle targets groups of co-living friends, located in Barcelona, Spain. WIGO represents an approach on how to combine a small size vehicle with elements of resting and relaxation, giving each user the chance to make it a personal product and experience.

Team: Liuyi Zhang (Interior) & Mario Schaffeld (Exterior)

Exterior DesignWIGO

Interior DesignWIGO Interior

011

This concept focuses on the lifestyle of single parent families in Portugal. The 011 project sees Lissabon being the "new Silicon Valley", aims to be in balance with a low cost of living while supporting a vibrant lifestyle.

Team: Justin Huang, Hriday Mistry (Interior) & Drake Nolte (Exterior)

Exterior Design011

Interior Design011 Interior

FLINK

The design represents a level 4 autonomous vehicle (manual steering still present) created for families based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This mobility service is designed to unite family members and allow them to spend quality time together. The vehicles layout is adaptable according to the users' desire.

Team Tong-Tong Wang, Wenyu Wu (Interior) & Erik Olsson (Exterior)

Exterior DesignFLINK

Interior DesignFLINK Interior

TODOS

The design concept is a shared vehicle created around the everyday life of a three-generation family living in Santiago, Chile. TODOS is designed to strengthen and support family values in everyday Chilean life. It is a vehicle that not only eases the commuting needs of the family, but it is also an extension of the living room and office. 

Team: Li Lingzhi, Christoffer Weinreich (Interior) & Zain Kadri (Exterior)

Exterior DesignTODOS

Interior DesignTODOS Interior

Urban Farmers Club 

The vehicle design is set in Berlin in 2030. The concept is focused on the small-scale family with a sustainable lifestyle that enjoys urban farming. The sharing service is considered from a privacy protection perspective. The final design provides 'separated spaces' for passenger and cargo with asymmetric features. The interior is open but private with its section sliding door.

Team: Hansol Kim (Interior) & Weihao Shao (Exterior)

Exterior DesignUrban Farmers Club

Interior DesignUrbanframersclub Interior