Who rates who in the world of car design? CAR+ April 2016

Published: 14 March 2016

► What do designers wish they’d drawn?
 Car Design Review 3 lists top designs from peers
► Lifetime achievement award for Syd Mead

Subverting the convention of design awards being dished out by a bunch of journalists  and experts rubbing their chins in darkened rooms, the 2015 Car Design News Awards’ judging panel is made up of car designers only. Eighteen of the most highly-regarded figures from the car design world, in fact, including heads of design from Ferrari to Mercedes. And voting for their peers’ best 2015 concept and production designs is thus a refreshingly non-corporate mark of respect based on experience as well as personal taste. 

The complete results are captured in a new book, Car Design Review 3 (see below for more details). In it each of the 18 designers have named their top three concept cars and top three production cars from the last 12 months, and each has given an in-depth interview capturing their take on current trends in car design. Plus, there’s a lifetime achievement award for artist Syd Mead, the futurist designer behind Blade Runner and Tron, whose work has influenced automotive projects for more than 50 years.

By way of a teaser, here’s a ‘six-degrees of separation’  tour to give a flavour of who said what… about whom!

The list

The winner: There was a time when the idea of a Volvo winning a car design prize would have been a joke. But the suave new S90 nailed it.

1) Volvo’s S90 was crowned 2015’s Production Car Design of the Year by many judges’ votes including designers from Bentley, Mazda, Mercedes, McLaren and Kia, but Volvo’s own Tisha Johnson gave her top vote to the eventual runner-up in that category, the Jaguar F-Pace, calling it simply ‘a great looking design (and better late than never).’

2) Meanwhile, Gerry McGovern, chief creative officer at Jaguar’s sister brand Land Rover, gave praise to McLaren’s 570S calling it ‘exotic and distinctive with loads of character and British racing at its heart.’

3) The man responsible for the 570S, McLaren Automotive’s chief designer Rob Melville was a big fan of the Porsche Mission E – which won the Concept Car Design of the Year – calling it ‘a beautifully clean piece of modern automotive sculpture with a great stance to boot.’

4) Mazda’s Ikuo Maeda was also impressed, saying the Mission E suitably ‘pushes the boundaries of the Porsche style.’ Maeda’s own 2015 Tokyo show RX-Vision concept got plenty of love from his design peers too…

5) Peugeot’s style director, Gilles Vidal, gushed about Mazda’s svelte and long-nosed GT: ‘Just beautiful… it is sometimes enough!’ Vidal created a cool concept himself in 2015 with the recording studio-inspired Fractal concept. Of which Bentley’s design boss was a fan…

6) ‘The name is an omen with this incredible creative firework of ideas,’ says Bentley’s design director Stefan Sielaff. ‘It is a piece of art, especially the interior, which has been driven to the boundaries.’ Sielaff contributed to the Bentley Speed 6 concept’s interior while head of interior design at VW Group’s Potsdam studio, which was a concept much admired by a certain Tisha Johnson back at Volvo… 

Read more from the April 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By Guy Bird

Contributor, cultural curator, design commentator