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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
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
What qualities do you see as being essential to becoming a successful
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
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?
What advice can you give to those looking to prepare their folios for getting
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
Why is it important to ensure you have a good selection of freehand drawings
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
Those wishing to contact Andrew
can email him at, [email protected]
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
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