DTW has approached another design student to find out what they think. This time we have put questions to Narayan Subramaniam who is a multiple-award winning design student, currently at work on his second MA in design at Umea, Sweden.
So, what sort of career has our subject had so far? In 2012 Narayan won the Michelin Design Challenge and his work was shown at the Detroit Motor show. Last year he won the First Moves award. In 2007 he claimed first prize in the All-India Engineering Competition for the best functional prototype. This list is much longer than this selection.
Narayan has an impressive portfolio of internships and work placements including Volkswagen, Daihatsu and Mahindra, to name but three. DTW is especially interested in Daihatsu who had an interesting niche in small vehicles. Underpinning Narayan’s design skills is a foundation in mechanical engineering. We think this is a major advantage in car design as it is often necessary to lock horns with engineers.
Often their favourite answer is “no”. With a technical argument a designer can often think of a good counterargument. At the moment Narayan is working on his MA project at Umea Institute of Design Sweden. That project is a conceptual urban commuter.
DTW: Some say car design is an “art”. Do you agree?
Narayan Subramaniam (NS): Very much so. We really have to look at what art is, at its very core. It is a work of pure emotional expression that evokes a strong emotional response in the minds of many others. This is essentially what car design has evolved into, over the years.
More and more people perceive their car as an extension of their personality and not just a box on wheels. And it is ‘art’ that is responsible for this transition.
DTW: Which particular designer or company’s work has had the biggest effect on your generation of stylists?
NS: Well, when I think influence, the first thing that comes to mind is the ‘BMW i series’ Right from the concept stage to the production cars, they have done a splendid job and been one of the pioneers in making electric sexy. It is not just a beautiful car that they have created. The bigger success is bringing about that change in the mindset of people regarding electric/hybrid cars.
DTW: Which manufacturers show the most potential in the next 10 years?
NS: I believe we are witnessing a very interesting era in vehicle design. Markets and economies are opening up, with a lot of knowledge sharing coming to the fore of late. Most of the strong, successful companies of today would no doubt do well but what is really interesting is the emergence of new players in the market, coming out with really exciting products, ranging from personal mobility concepts to complete cars. I believe a lot of these smaller players will have a huge role in defining the future of mobility.
DTW: Now that the centre of gravity in car design is shifting away from traditional centres like Italy and the US, where do you see its re-emergence taking place?
NS: Asia is well poised to be the epicentre of change with regard to transportation. One of the important reasons being the population density as well as need for large scale solutions. Necessity, as we know is the mother of invention, and this ‘problem solving’ approach, hand in hand with art is quite a potent mix
DTW: Whom would I like to work with? Why?
I would ideally like to work with a group of people who are passionate about making a change, challenging current ways and creating something that makes a much larger impact than just a good looking car.