The Envisage Group delivers high-quality, fully integrated engineering solutions across the full spectrum of a project, spanning design,engineering, manufacturing, testing, validation, technical recruitment and project management in the automotive, aerospace, rail, marine and defence sectors. Incorporating Visioneering Ltd., Envisage Manufacturing, CH Recruitment and the recently acquired Concept Group International (CGI), the Group is based on seven sites around Coventry, in the heart of the UK’s specialist engineering industry.
“The Coventry area continues to surprise me. There’s probably more automotive expertise, craftsmanship and passion for cars per square mile here than anywhere in the world,” says Chris Devane, Envisage Group CEO. “The location enables well established partnerships with specialist firms, research teams and universities, and a flexible, widespread network of collaborators.”
Envisage Group’s international clients include premium-level OEMs, who employ its expertise to create full-sized, high-tech concept models to exacting standards. The Group has the capability to design a vehicle from pure concept, through engineering and prototyping, to individual bespoke build or even small-scale production. “All levels of feasibility and technical resolution can be catered for, but hand-craftsmanship and techniques such as metalworking skills are very much a part of the Group’s philosophy of expressing ‘the art of engineering',” says Devane.
The recently established Envisage Design division has already undertaken projects covering bespoke vehicles, small-scale specialist models and high-volume production cars. This rapidly growing, young and highly engaged team is led by highly experienced design director Oliver Le Grice, who has previously worked at Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz. “In its purest form, design embodies and represents everything about a product. It is the point at which the tangible, the functional and the visual intersect with the intangible, the experiential and emotional. It is the role of design to be the arbiter that enables art and engineering to become indivisible,” says Le Grice.
“Envisage Design is a tight-knit group of experts, and its scale is such that things can happen fast,” Devane says. “We can move quickly and do things in new ways. This excites me and keeps things very fresh.”
That’s particularly true right now with the colour and materials laboratory, as production director Mick Bradley explains: “Here there is space to really develop an almost unlimited level of bespoke finishes, materials and paints, off-line and very quickly. Traditionally, the CMF development for show cars often takes longer than the model itself. We now have a dedicated materials library to help us study and forecast trends, research material innovation, and propose novel solutions.”
Recent work includes the study of environmentally friendly leather substitutes utilising fruit and fungal fibres, stone veneers, and gesture-controlled, illuminated wood. All this is augmented by an in-house trim shop featuring the latest machines from Dürkopp Adler, used by talented trimmers from an automotive and transport background.
Significant investment in VR technology allows for the virtual review and creation of interior and exterior designs, and enables remote client collaboration. Using these techniques, the Envisage Group is also increasingly moving into the world of connected and autonomous transportation, and exploring digital HMI, UX and experiential areas, by using the latest visualisation and simulation techniques.
“I’m especially interested in the development of virtual material databases which will dovetail with our VR systems as well as the wider supply chain,” says Devane. “We have built a reputation for doing the highest quality work in the business, based on traditional craft skills. The challenge now is to take that quality and move into these fascinating new spaces. This really is the next frontier for design, and it is one which intrigues me. Right now, as it is such new territory, there aren’t many teams which can genuinely focus themselves and take an authoritative position. I think we are one of them.”
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