Car Design News has partnered with the Royal College of Art and Bridge of Weir to launch the Peter Horbury Fellowship award aimed at supporting young design talent

In June 2023, one of the greatest car designers of his generation, Peter Horbury, passed away. In a storied career spanning almost 50 years, Horbury worked his car design magic at the likes of Chrysler, Ford, Volvo and Lotus where he was VP of design at the time of his death. 

Brilliant individual designer as he was, perhaps the key to Horbury’s longevity was his ability to nurture young creative talent. 

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A young Horbury at work

“Managing creative people is quite different from many other management jobs. You cannot dictate, there is no good design dictator. My philosophy has always been to strike up conversation,” Horbury said in his final interview with Car Design News. 

“If by the end of the conversation the designer is suggesting the changes, the design is still his or hers. You haven’t taken over the creativity, but you’ve managed to get the change you wanted. It’s a poor show when directors come into a studio and say I want you to move that line down 5mm and I’ll come back tomorrow to check your work. Then, you’ve lost them.”

Horbury learnt his trade at the Royal College of Art, and, in keeping with his background, the Peter Horbury Fellowship Award is open to first and second year full-time bachelor degree students from the RCA transportation design course. The winner will be selected by course head Dale Harrow and the RCA faculty. 

The inaugural award is supported by Bridge of Weir, a company with whom Horbury had a long-standing relationship, which will award the winning student a £5000 bursary to help in their studies.  

Professor Dale Harrow, chair and director of IMDC said: “The Peter Horbury Fellowship is an important award – recognising the support and close connection which the RCA Intelligent Mobility programme has with industry and their alumni from the programme. 

“The industry’s commitment to the most talented students is fundamental to encouraging the future of mobility design. Peter Horbury was an RCA alumni at the forefront of the industry, a great friend of the college and we are honoured to be able to award this prize in his name to one of the RCA Intelligent Mobility’s students.”

James Muirhead, sales director at Bridge of Weir Leather said: “It is with great honour and pride to support the Peter Horbury Fellowship Award, working in partnership with Car Design News to recognise Peter’s profound contributions to the automotive industry and inspiring the future of designers. Peter was not only a visionary and an inspirational designer for some of the world’s most renowned automotive brands, but he was also a cherished friend of Bridge of Weir Leather.”

Muirhead continues: “Over the past three decades, our collaboration with Peter in crafting the interiors of iconic models for Volvo, Aston Martin, Ford, and Geely Group has been a testament to his unparalleled expertise and passion. This award is a beacon of inspiration, passing on Peter’s remarkable legacy to the next generation of designers, ensuring his visionary spirit lives on.”

The Peter Horbury Fellowship Award will be bestowed on the winner at the prestigious CDN People Awards held at the Londoner in London’s Leicester Square on 7 December. 

Award Criteria

The Peter Horbury Fellowship will be awarded to a student on the course in the 2023 intake who represents the highest levels of design excellence and potential. The award will be judged by a team from the IMDC chaired by Prof. Dale Harrow.