Today we take a small look at the future as imagined by students at Clemson University and the Art Centre College of Design.
The car is the Deep Orange 7 Mini concept, the result of a project carried out in co-operation with BMW. Many who liked the Mini Spiritual concept will find much to admire. For a start, it doesn’t look much like a Mini or a Mini.
“Deep Orange is a vehicle prototype program at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research for the pioneering education, research and industry collaboration within the graduate degree programs in automotive engineering”.
What makes this programme different from others is the extent to which the students get to work on arealistic projekts. Normally, students on BA and MA courses work individually on a final year project. Deep Orange seems to offer an opportunity for team work which aggregates the effort into one very well elaborated project rather than many individual models which often amount to mere styling exercises.
Hence one sees here a model so thoroughly finished one can raise questions about the precise solutions suggested: that steering column needs a bit of work where it intersects with the floor. That’s a quibble.
You can also see concepts elaborated so one can discuss them. The floating dashboard really is a floating dashboard and it is possible because the drivetrain allows a large empty space under the front screen to be exploited. That in turn leads to the distinct appearance of the car’s frontal aspect. The shutlines give away the fact that the front screen opens as a hatch to allow access to a front storage space. The shutline has an unhappy swerve (quibble).
The grille and lamp relation seems to have been inverted quite satisfyingly on this proposal. A body-colour panel where a dark grille might normally be has a dark frame flowing into the glass area. The overall relation of body-colour and graphics extrapolates a trend I have detected using my super-sensitive instruments: the reduction of body-colour areas and the expansion of graphics. This may be a result of the current exasperation with strakes, creases and folds which must now be past its zenith.
The C-pillar design remains the only element which made it from the concept sketch shown above (shades of Opel, perhaps?). The actual realised model manages to be an unusual mix of the futuristic and plausible. Perhaps the seating form and fabric needed extra consideration. But usefully it shows how to use the Mini concept as a start-point without being trapped by its conventions. It will be interesting to see how much of this concept BMW takes on board in their future iterations of the by now stultifying Mini concept. BMW already seem to be trying some of the ideas already in concept form..
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