Designers were tasked with producing innovative visions of future mobility in the year 2035. This year’s Europe winner was inspired by campfires, classic Jeeps and dinky city cars

The Europe region winner of the 2022 Magna Global Bold Perspective Award is Benjamin Miller of the Royal College of Art, London. Miller’s project – the “Billy” Jeep – explored the idea of an outdoor adventure vehicle and draws inspiration from the Citroen Ami, Suzuki Jimny and smart ForTwo.

Jimny aside, none of these would be too closely associated with the idea of an adventure vehicle, but all share common traits: they are compact, fun and break the norm. The Billy is designed for outdoorsy types who value the “spontaneity, casualness and socialness aspects of outdoor adventures.”

The body of the Billy is further inspired by early wartime Jeeps – highlighted nicely in Miller’s illustrations – with a removable canopy, chunky dash and “easy in, easy out” access at the side of the car. Multi-use seats also slide outwards to position all four passengers around a central table in the middle of the interior – inspired by the notion of gathering round a campfire.

Judges’ comments:

“I can’t say I understand all of the details on this concept,” says Jay Shuster, production designer, Pixar Animation Studios, flagging the “variety of canisters plugging into the suspension towers” as an example. “However, I do appreciate its experimental, DIY moon-rover-esque appearance. It is very anti-aesthetic and kit-bashed.”

Crystal Windham, executive director, global industrial design at General Motors, shared a similar view. “I love the scrappy mock-ups and unique aesthetic,” she noted. Bjorn Shuster, design manager at Harley Davidson, praised the overall approach to the brief and resulting materials. “This is a very easy concept to enjoy. From the research to the graphics, sketches and final models, the presentation is incredibly consistent and fun!” he comments. “Overall, I like the idea that inside is the outside, and that everything feels designed around its purpose, thus the resultant form is pretty honest.”

Benjamin Miller Magna 2022 BP award artwork.22.14

The judges enjoyed the outdoorsy narrative of Miller’s Billy concept 

Liz Wetzel, co-director, transportation design at the College of Architecture and Design at Lawrence Technological University, says the narrative behind the Billy Jeep was partly what won her over. “It’s a brilliant story using the iconography of a picnic table and campfire to set the direction and development of this compact and reconfigurable adventure vehicle,” she said. “The attention paid to the roots of the Jeep brand and what makes it iconic are translated back into the design. The highlights of a camping experience evidently drove some of the well-thought-out and clever features. All this was executed into a cohesive and pleasing design.”

The brief called for designers to present a vision of future mobility in the year 2035. More specifically, it is about creating “the living vehicle”, says Larry Erickson, an award judge and global director of exteriors design at Magna Exteriors. Entrants were urged to consider topics such as sustainability, exterior innovation and electrification, with specific use cases for each vehicle to be outlined. And importantly, vehicles should consider the role they play in the wider environment. “We created this competition to help us understand what the future of mobility holds,” said Erickson ahead of the awards. “The designers of tomorrow play a key role in building that future.”

Alongside an overall winner, three regional finalists have been selected to represent Asia, Europe and North America. Each of the finalists will receive US$6,000 (the overall winner receiving an additional US$5,000). The global winner will be announced live on the stage during the CDN LA Forum on 17 November 2022.

Congratulations to Miller for taking home the Europe region award.

The judges:

Larry Erickson
Global Director of Exteriors Design Group
Magna International

Crystal Windham
Executive Director, Global Industrial Design
General Motors

Liz Wetzel
Co-Director, Transportation Design
College of Architecture and Design, Lawrence Technological University

Jay Shuster
Production Designer
Pixar Animation Studios

Bjorn Shuster
Design Manager
Harley-Davidson Motor Company