Report: VISIcON Automotive Lighting Design Competition

Report: VISIcON Automotive Lighting Design Competition

SABIC and Royal College of Art have announced the results of the Automotive Lighting Design Competition. The first prizes were won by Daniel Quinlan, Pierre Andlauer, Henri Peugeot, Selim Benhabib and Cherica Haye.


Sponsored by SABIC, the VISIcON Automotive Lighting Design Competition four-month program challenged post-graduate students from the RCA’s Vehicle Design and Textiles Design programmes to develop innovative automotive lighting concepts using SABIC materials.

VISIcON’s individual grand prize was awarded to Daniel Quinlan (Ireland) with Franklin Brown (United States) and Stephen Russell (United Kingdom) as close runners-up.

Pierre Andlauer and Henri Peugeot (France), Selim Benhabib (Turkey) and Cherica Haye (United Kingdom) earned top honours for the best team design.

Haye, a second year Textiles Design student, was also chosen as the grand award winner in the materials research category.

SABIC awarded study bursaries to the individual award winners and runner-ups. Students from the winning and runner-up teams received Apple iPads.

Individual Vehicle Design category

1st place: Enope Concept by Daniel Quinlan (Ireland)

Enope Concept - scale model

The Enope Concept was the winner in the individual vehicle design category. The vehicle cleverly uses plastics to give the vehicle the illusion of life.

Taking inspiration from a bioluminescent squid, Enope’s axes move like the squid, allowing both ends of the vehicle to pivot and light its surroundings naturally. Light passes through from the inner belly of the vehicle, projecting onto the road.

The Enope Concept uses SABIC ‘s LEXANTM polycarbonate resin glazing, doubling as lighting units.

The PC material is highly transparent to visible light and its glowing edges transmit light onto the road for visibility and indicator functionality.

Enope Concept - scale model Daniel Quinlan and the Enope Concept

The pivoting rear axle and seats feature flexible structures by Sofie van Aelbroeck, a teammate of Quinlan’s in the group exercise and runner-up in the materials research category.

Concept by Franklin Brown (United States)

Electric sports coupe concept by Franklin Brown

Electric sports coupe concept - plastic and lightInspired by the idea of light as the center of the universe, Brown’s concept used light to communicate and illuminate the soul of the object, through beautiful lighting effects.

Plastic is an enabler because of its transparency, aesthetic value and the many design possibilities it makes available.

The electric sports coupe concept is highly customizable through the smart use of advanced 3D printing technology.

Both the exterior and interior panels contain lighting elements to achieve new design functionality and lighting is used to communicate information about the state of the vehicle and its movement both to the driver and others.

Concept by Stephen Russell

Concept by Stephen Russell - Digital rendering

The vehicle design category’s second runner-up Stephen Russell modeled his vehicle out of meticulously folded transparent sheets.

Concept by Stephen Russell - Scale models

His project focused mostly on the use of natural light and led to the discovery of a new and highly innovative formal design language, which inspired many of his peer RCA students throughout the course of the SABIC-sponsored VISIcON competition.

Team Vehicle Design category

1st place: Concept by Pierre Andlauer, Henri Peugeot, Selim Benhabib and Cherica Haye

Hypereality Concept by Pierre Andlauer, Henri Peugeot, Selim Benhabib and Cherica Haye

The winning project in the team design category is based on the ‘Hypereality’ (hyper reality) theme, which combined three highly individual designs into one sculptural vision.

Lighting is used to enhance natural elements like wind and rain and create the impression of vehicle speed.

UV-enhanced transparent sculpture 3D printed model

The team developed two sculptural forms: a 3D printed ‘mobility’ form (bottom); and a larger, UV-enhanced transparent sculpture enabled by VISUALFXTM resins from SABIC, which add illumination and depth.

This larger model (top) is beautifully supported by tensioning yarns to further underline its sense of strength and spirit of movement.

Lava Concept by Nicholas Dunderdale, Kym Moorehouse, Sean Parsons and Jannis Carius

Lava Concept 3D rendering

Lava Concept by Nicholas Dunderdale, Kym Moorehouse, Sean Parsons and Jannis CariusThe raw, natural force of volcanoes and lava was the main inspiration for the team’s direction, together with different interpretations of inner glowing cores – radiating light as well as warmth into the vehicle’s interior – and beyond, through gaps between the floating vehicle’s body panels.

As a counter- reaction against impersonal and soulless products, the team decided to focus on designs with a heart and soul – an ‘inner light’ – bringing back character and life to the future of personal transportation.

Lizete Druka’s complementary material research led to a common aesthetic of neutrally colored exteriors, glowing with bright and vivid inner light effects.

Other projects

Expan Concept by Zishi HanThe VISIcON jury decided to add an award to recognize RCA student Zishi Han for extensive work on his ‘Expan’ concept, which aims to create the illusion of dimension with light.

To help drivers and passengers feel less stressed and trapped within a limited space during long-distance driving, Han’s solution uses the reflections of light strips to form virtual surfaces, creating additional ‘imaginary’ space.

Cherica Haye, a second year Textiles Design student, was chosen as the grand award winner in the materials research category.

RCA Textiles Design student Cherica Haye Her composition of plastic light guides with intermittently changing colors and sober yet high-value weavings tastefully combines the aesthetics of very different and unique materials in a striking and beautifully balanced display.

Runner-up in VISIcON’s materials research category was Textiles Design student Sofie Van Aelbroeck.

She researched the interplay between transparent plastics and light, exploring different ways to create flexible structures.

Her final work demonstrates how light can change transparent objects and create new forms and images that might not normally be seen until the light shines through.

Concept by RCA Textiles Design student Sofie Van Aelbroeck Ice block sculpture concept by Franklin Brown and Inkook Jung

Franklin Brown and Inkook Jung designed a unique ice block sculpture: the team sought to create a dynamic shape, drawing upon the glowing character of plastic.

Light enters at the bottom of the plastic rods; it then refracts and spreads out when passing through the rods’ round surfaces, creating a blurred lighting effect around the abstract automotive shape.

Flow Identity Concepts by Xiangyin Yao, Peter ten Klooster, Hoe Young Hwang and Gemma WaggettXiangyin Yao, Peter ten Klooster, Hoe Young Hwang and Gemma Waggett mixed three concepts together – personalization, desire and flowing highlights – to demonstrate ‘flow identity’.

Where Yao concentrated on desire and mystery as guiding principle for her design, Hwang experimented with reflections that could be manipulated in the LEXANTM resin skin; whereas Ten Klooster sought and found inspiration in algorithms, interpreting music and color into randomly generated shapes – mimicking the endless possibilities of plastics as building blocks for his translucent, light emitting exterior design.

Omni Tour autonomous bus conceptThe Omni-Tour by Jed Sheahan, Yuan Fang, Rob Crick and Daisy Ellis is an autonomous bus for London in 2040. Intended for transporting tourists through London’s historic streets, it is designed to provide its occupants with the optimum view.

Not only can you take a tour of London’s iconic locations, you can also travel along the Thames and hover over the city to give you unparalleled views.

The Omni-Tour has a unique lightweight transparent exterior design, which is used for projection of tourist information, and an elegant interior to create a pleasant experience for its passengers.

SABIC X-Plane concept modelThe SABIC X-plane concept by Yalim Erkaya, ‘Vera’ Jiyeong Park and Alexander Ibbett sought to demonstrate how vehicle users, vehicles and other road users can be connected through light.

A prominent light ring around the vehicle is used for first level messaging and is complemented with an array of projections to communicate with the environment.

Safety is the inspiration behind the ‘Geodia’ concept by Francesco Binaggia, Alexander Brink and Alex McCarthy.

The team behind it experimented with light and plastics and developed a more organic structure and theme, with safety shells and jellyfish serving as reference points.

The shape of these organisms led to the main form and inspired the textiles used inside the sculpture. Light moves through the patterns of the vehicle to indicate safety.

Geodia concept Concept by Minwoo Hwang, Ji Won Yun, Akash Patel, Moa Gullmarstam and Yingchuan Liu

The Concept by Minwoo Hwang, Ji Won Yun, Akash Patel, Moa Gullmarstam and Yingchuan Liu aims at using plastic in a therapeutic way to communicate tranquillity.

Through the process of dip dying, the team tinted samples of distorted plastic to create a watery surface language infused with color. A range of different effects is created by light, passing through the plastic material.

German Jannis Carius combined diverse material traits into his ‘lightweight luxury’ concept.

Lightweight Luxury concept by Jannis Carius - Design Sketches

Taking inspiration from swan feathers and ballet dancers, his design not only embodies an aesthetic language that tastefully illustrates lightweight material; it also cleverly translates the feather leitmotiv to fiber optic lighting functions.

Sports vehicle concept by Inkook Jung - Design Sketch Inkook Jung’s sports vehicle concept was carefully constructed in various layers, using materials ranging from recycled waste plastic to protective body panels, a large clear canopy and translucent lighting elements.

The colors of the lit up vehicle body communicated vehicle speed, as they were being activated by the ever-changing airflow around the car.

A return to the basic appeal of motor vehicles was at the core of Kym Moorhouse’s design.

The unique character and near-human personality of his design warrant an emotional connection with the owner.

Concept by Kym Moorhouse - 3D rendering

Advanced light effects that seem modelled on the human nervous system radiate through the car’s transparent cockpit and move freely over its body panels.

Nicholas Dunderdale’s design for an autonomous recreational vehicle features a “social cocoon” structure made of layers of LEXANTM polycarbonate resin form.

A caroussel layout features individual seats that can freely rotate around a central light core in the car’s interior – much like the cosy warmth of a traditional camp fire.

Dutch Peter Ten Klooster’s ‘Resonate’ vehicle concept was created following a highly unusual methodology.

Resonate Concept by Peter Ten Klooster

Special software was used to convert music into graphic patterns, which were subsequently developed into a highly three-dimensional and transparent vehicle body shape.

Concept by Jiyeong Vera ParkNext, OLED technology was used to emit colors that corresponded with various types of music – therewith communicating the driver’s state of mind to other road users.

Korean student Jiyeong ‘Vera’ Park developed a light car for the modern working mother.

A wide array of new lighting functions were invented to assist and organize the owner in her daily busy mix of activities; a combination of projected light messages, augmented reality and a descript, lit up ‘information ring’ on the vehicle’s exterior all contribute to a unique and purpose-driven design.

About the Competition

VISIcON is the second creative design project that SABIC has sponsored at the RCA. In 2005/2006, SABIC challenged student teams through its PLASTicon competition to explore and experiment with a broad range of plastic technologies to identify new possibilities for vehicle design.

Official Statements

The VISIcON project served as a unique, career preparatory experience for the RCA’s participating students and helped highlight not only on the importance of materials identification and selection in the earliest stages of the design process, but also the high potential of high-performance plastic materials to take automotive design in new directions.

The students’ work was presented to a jury made up of automotive designers, SABIC and RCA representatives and other external experts.

Members of the Jury Panel

Members of the jury included: (Front row, left to right): Matteo Conti (RCA Vehicle Design), Scott Fallon (SABIC), Geert Jan Schellekens (SABIC), Oliver Le Grice (Land Rover), Richard Woolley (Land Rover), Julian Thomson (Jaguar) and Dale Harrow (RCA Vehicle Design). Second row, left to right): Geoff Draper (the international automotive lighting and light signalling expert group Groupe de Travail “Bruxelles 1952”), Suki Cheema (RCA Textiles Design), Erhard Bruss (SABIC), Cynthia Charwick-Bland (RCA Vehicle Design). Missing: Christophe Dubosc (Valeo), David Woodhouse (Ford), Hannah Macmurry (RCA Vehicle Design) and Nargess Shahmanesh Banks (independent design writer, editor and consultant).

“All of the concepts and models that we saw at VISIcON demonstrated feats of imagination, collaboration and innovation,” said Richard Woolley, Land Rover’s Advanced Design Studio Director and one of VISIcON’s jury members.

“This was a fantastic project for these young designers. I was impressed by the students’ creativity and thoroughly enjoyed seeing their visions of how plastics can bring about positive change to car lighting and mobility in the future.”

The VISIcON project allowed for a free movement of ideas and thinking across design disciplines (Vehicle Design, Textiles and Industrial Design) and included the Vehicle Design department’s three automotive studios – Automark (brand identity), Urban Flow (exterior design) and Inside Out (interior design).

“This cross-pollination of ideas across studios and disciplines was a big strength of the VISIcON project,” said Professor Dale Harrow, head of RCA’s Vehicle Design department.

“We believe in developing designers who can take a broader view and are open to different perspectives. VISIcON allowed us to do just that and, backed by SABIC’s expertise in material solutions, enabled the students to create some truly unique pieces of work.”

“We congratulate the winning student designers and all of the participants for fully embracing the challenge behind VISIcON,” said Scott Fallon, general manager, automotive, with SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business.

“It’s clear to us that the students took full advantage of the design freedom that our thermoplastic solutions offer. Their concepts wowed us and provided a glimpse into the future of automotive lighting and vehicle design, from bold new styling possibilities to expanded functionality. We look forward to building off the inspiration from VISIcON and helping our customers to apply the latest technology and enhance lighting on their vehicles.”

(Image Courtesy: SABIC for Car Body Design)

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