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What first attracted you to a career in design?

I have always enjoyed being creative. With my childhood passion for cars and my love of art and design a career in this field seemed a natural progression. I wanted to work at something that I enjoy doing and that was a challenge. Automotive Design stood out as being the most exciting and rewarding; working on future products and being able to see your work on the street.

Were you interested in drawing and sketching even as a youngster?

Absolutely. When I was old enough to hold a pencil drawing was my passion, cars and aeroplanes were always my subject.

The first image you show is of your RCA final project, can you tell us a little about that?

My final year project at the Royal College of Art was a future vision for the Cadillac brand. Cadillac stands for advanced technology, dramatic style and extreme luxury, and I wanted to explore these themes in the context of a four seat coupe architecture, powered by fuel cell technology. The scenario for the vehicle was the Automated Highway, and how this could shape a future transport infrastructure. It was a great project to work on because it was such a ‘Blue Sky’ brief.

What qualities do you see as being essential to becoming a successful designer?

1) Creative thinking
2) Good taste and judgement
3) A high level of presentational skill to communicate and sell your ideas
4) Passion, enthusiasm and dedication to achieve your vision
I would also add to the list tenacity and also some good luck, to be in the ‘right place at the right time‘.

To what extent do you think engineering knowledge is useful to a designer?

To be able to see your design through the eyes of an engineer, a customer or a manufacturer is useful. An understanding of their concerns, and to be able to discuss issues affecting design help the team work towards a solution that can be realised at an affordable cost. It is important to be able to defend the concept and detail of your proposal so that it does not lose its integrity.

Are there any designs or designers who have inspired you throughout your career?

When I was getting interested in car design in the early nineties, I was really inspired by the Lotus studio and the work of Julian Thomson (Isuzu 4200R, ‘89) and Simon Cox (Isuzu VX2, ’98). Michael Ani’s concepts with IAD (Venus, ’89 and Magia ‘92) were fantastic. In more recent times Stephane Janin’s work with Renault (Koleos, ’99) stands out.

What is your favourite car?

Porsche 917K

What advice can you give to those looking to prepare their folios for getting a job?

Be objective and put yourself in the position of the person interviewing you. It is likely they only have a short amount of time to look through your work, understand your projects, your process and evaluate the results. Clearly layout your work and make it self explanatory, as you may not always be there to discuss it. Make a strong, memorable format which is punchy but is also easy on the eye.

Why is it important to ensure you have a good selection of freehand drawings and sketches?

Everyone works in their own way, but the ability to ‘think with a pencil in your hand’ and to generate quick ideas is a very important skill in the studio. At some parts of the design process it is good to be able to communicate an idea ‘live’ e.g. sketching on an alias screenshot (to explain design intention) with a modeller, drawing over photographs with your manager or discussing a package section change with an engineer.

What role do you see traditional design tools playing in the future, given the widespread use of digital technology, such as CAD?

Digital technology has made the design process faster and more precise. Establishing proportion, lines, graphics and surfaces ‘on screen’ is the most time and cost effective route. However there is no substitute for evaluating a design by being able to walk around a physical 3D model. Hands-on design is vital for evolving and refining. Good design should be tactile.

Finally, what exciting developments do you see for the future of design?

Environmental pressure will generate new powertrain technology and vehicle packaging solutions, leading to more diversity and new opportunities. Meeting environmental needs whilst still delivering the level of comfort and convenience that customers expect represents a big challenge to designers and the wider industry.

Those wishing to contact Andrew can email him at, [email protected]
Andrew Sheffield Interior
Andrew Sheffield Sketch
Andrew Sheffield Mitsibushi
Andrew Sheffield Mitsibushi
Andrew Sheffield Citroen
Andrew Sheffield Citroen
Andrew Sheffield Cadillac

A former student of Coventry University and the Royal College of Art, Andrew Sheffield is an automotive designer with over 7 years studio experience. He has worked for GM Europe on Advanced and Production Programmes in England and Germany. Andrew is currently working on freelance projects and has taken time out to answer some questions and share his thoughts on car design for DesignerTechniques.
page last updated; 2014-06-15
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