Car Design News paid a visit to Pforzheim for the University’s degree show. Here are our initial impressions…

There is more to come from our two-day visit to Pforzheim, but before we share a rundown of the projects on show, here are some general observations about the course, the mindset of the students and how they are approaching vehicle design.

Mixed opinions on clay

Ask 20 students for their view on the future of clay modelling, and you get 20 different answers. It is almost a 50-50 split for those that are broadly “for” or “against” with many others a little more balanced: it has a place, they say, but will be utilised alongside all the other digital tools available to them.

A thirst for the outdoors

If the trend of ten years ago was the future of urban mobility, the current vogue is about reconnecting with nature and escaping from the city. Many concepts on show were either explicit off-roaders or looked to bring cross-country elements into the design. The fact that one model was mounted on a platform covered in moss should be evidence enough.

Pforzheim Degree show 2024

Pforzheim Degree show 2024

Wellness and mental/social detox

We recently covered the latest colour forecast and it seems many of the students are au fait with what’s going on in this respect. Purple – or digital lavender in many cases – was one of the most common colours on show across interiors, exteriors, lighting and even supporting renders, animations and sketches. Pale oranges and greens were also common, and many of the students we spoke to referenced a focus on well-being as a driving force. It was not only about colour though — in some cases it was about turning a people-carrier sized vehicle into a three seater designed to carry only your best friends around (including pets) and even a few single seaters, one of which is designed to support a year-long solo getaway.

Open to anything

Exterior, interior, CMF, UX, advanced design, product design… The current crop of students are keeping an open mind. There is a general understanding that they will need to be adept at many different skills to succeed. That being said, there were certainly a few strong-willed individuals that do not plan on settling on anything other than what they’ve dreamed about as a child. The most specific is to create “beautiful exteriors for super fast cars.”

Pforzheim Degree show 2024

Pforzheim Degree show 2024

OEM sponsors aplenty

Pforzheim seems to have a reputation for connecting students with carmakers during their study. That certainly rang true, with it almost easier to pick out the select few projects that weren’t developed with an OEM sponsor. We were told that mentors would pop in every few weeks to see how things were progressing and to suggest tweaks – very much an advisory role that leaves the ultimate decision with the student. Mercedes (along with AMG and Maybach), Kia, Volvo, Chery, Alpine, VW and Renault were just some of the brands that had put their name to a particular project.

Confidence abounds

Finally, there seems to be a real energy about the students and a camaraderie that only comes from working on tough projects together, late nights and shared successes. Pair that with presentation training and frequent public speaking, and you have a seriously confident group of storytellers who do not shy away when it comes to selling their vision.