Pforzheim University's bi-annual graduation exhibitions are firmly established as highlights of the auto design calender. And if the number of design professional wielding business cards was any indication, we weren't the only ones keen to grab a word with the students.
Course leader, Prof. James Kelly, places great emphasis on ensuring graduates have the skills necessary for employment in the industry without stifling their creativity.
We headed to the Congresshal in downtown Pforzheim to view the assembled Bachelor and Masters exhibits from all stages of the courses, paying particular attention to the Thesis projects featured here.
"What if the Hindenburg hadn't crashed?" asks Michal Plata in his quest to redefine the current grandiose luxury paradigm: "sophistication, real luxury, lies within the total opposite – in modesty". Like the infamous Luftschiff Zeppelin D-LZ 129 airship, the Maybach-branded limousine slips discreetly through its environment, its LED-embedded flanks projecting its passing background, "doing so a gesture of modesty appears", explains Plata. Its trapezoidal side surfaces preserve the modesty of the femininely sculptural central fuselage, averting onlooking eyes like the 'invisible servants' of past aristocracy. "A Silver Ghost" as Plata says.
Jan Peter Herdey
Through his thesis research, Jan Peter Herdey discovered that 11 percent of the German population are part of a long-distance relationship, while 21 percent commute for more than an hour. These two core needs for personal mobility informed the design of his tandem-seat commuter and long-distance EV. Using a gyroscope to both power the car and stabilize its cabin increases the vehicle's theoretical range, while also providing a stable platform in which to work or rest while traveling autonomously. The articulating cockpit adjusts its angle to favor either visibility or aerodynamics.
Artem Knaus' coupe project for Mercedes-Benz seeks to reattach form with function in a new era of electric cars. Gone is the traditional Mercedes grille, replaced with a glazed hood/windscreen area and a single lower air intake; more honest to the needs of an EV's frontal area. Forward shifts the cab into the space negated by the lack of internal combustion engine to give a forward-diving stance which. The dropping character line and masculine rear fender suggest a new aesthetic for Mercedes-Benz.
Super Normal 3.0
We're surrounded by iconic design that blends into our everyday lives – think the paper clip, a coffee pot or Bic lighter – it is this 'super normal' status that inspired this thesis project. From Modernist architecture to solar cars, Schonfeld's presentation boards represent the mantra of less equalling more. Three lines describe the car's form in side profile – the minimum possible number – its pure white paint, pontoon flanks and total absence of graphics reduces the idea of 'a car' down to its essence.
Inspired by its namesake – a non-parasitic plant which grows upon another object – Epiphyte explores new interior forms. Lu argues that the evolutionary biological image fits well with our move to new methods of propulsion and explore new materials. Intertwined, layered and mutually supportive, she describes her project as " the re-definition of the spatial order of the interior". And like nature, where we see pattern repetition from macro- to micro-scale, so the themes are repeated in Epiphyte's proportions, details and materials.
'Lee' – Tsanko Petrov's case study persona – lives in a future megacity, where he has no need for the size and complexity of today's city cars. Petrov concentrated wholly on making the cabin as useful as possible within its 2700mm length and 1300mm height. Its unusually spherical form is a direct result of the cabin, which rotates through a horizontal axis. On one side of the one-piece interior is a single-seat layout with storage underneath, while the reverse side allows more passengers but less cargo. The concept is built around the mantra 'only there when you need it'.
As well as the Thesis projects above, a wide range of other undergraduate projects were displayed, including both interior and exterior concepts. All Bachelor Semester 2, 3, 4 and 6 projects can be seen in our extensive gallery.