The contest, titled “Dessine-moi la voiture de 2020”, was originally launched in October 2012 by Peugeot in collaboration with Okapi, a magazine for kids aged 10 to 15 years.
Several months later six winners, selected by two Peugeot designers and a two journalists from Okapi, were invited to the Peugeot design center in Paris, to see their creations come to life.
Each drawing was reinterpreted by our friend, Peugeot designer Olivier Gamiette, who created a detailed pencil drawing and a photorealistic Photoshop rendering based on the original ideas.
The overall winner, 14-year old Clement Bianchi, also received a scale model of his concept car.
This unique experience showed how, beyond the obvious technical limits, children and young kids were able to express truly original ideas, which after a professional treatment resulted in interesting and inspiring concepts.
We have had the opportunity to ask some questions to Olivier, centered around this experience as well as different aspects of creative process.
Interview with Olivier Gamiette
It is often said that from time to time designers need to find their “inner child” and to break their habits by thinking in a more intuitive and less sophisticated way. What was your experience with the contest from this perspective?
If finding your inner child means going back to an ‘unconscious’ state of mind – getting rid of your psychological structure and of the world we live in – then I agree. One needs to create without asking himself too many questions, going back to a place where fear and judgment do not exist.
At times, experienced designers can develop uncertainty, some kind of “over reflective” or “auto censorship” behaviour – these are the worst enemies of wild creativity!
A child is somehow naïve, carefree, and that allows him to have an unusual, quirk insight. His mental synapses are way different and probably impossible to recreate for an adult, who is aware – or should I say ‘too aware’ of the real world.
Throughout the creative process it is important to forget one’s knowledge, to forget evidence and even reconsider the “invariant” such as physics, geometry or gravity!
Within the contest, I have preserved the unusual character of the children’s proposals as much as possible, trying to highlight the result of their mental process, all the way up to realistic renderings. I hope that this approach helped create inspiring yet believable worlds.
Did you find any significant difference between the drawings made by the youngest children and those made by the oldest ones?
Of course there was a difference and not simply in the ‘precision’ and self-confidence of the line. Oldest kids have already developed a certain kind of analysis, which moderates their spontaneity and reduce the boldness of the design approach.
This does not mean that they are less creative than their younger fellows. They just seem to have a greater conscience of the stake – they tend to focus more on the perspective representation of their racing car than on the conceptual and innovative content that they can bring to life with their drawing.
On the other hand, teenage designers learn by looking what goes around them – it’s usual to imitate and to play mimetism at their age – but their source of inspiration is the rather dull production car automotive world.
Younger designers are fearless and less aware of the real world; their inner creativity takes the lead, without influences from the outside. Without digressions, they just dare and get amused at proposing unusual and unreal machines.
They do not try to constrain their imagination to the industrial dimension. I rather say that younger children prove to be more poetic, their sensitivity being more conceptual.
The final designs are all quite “unexpected” in terms of design language and proportions – and sometimes logic :-). Apart from this freshness, have you seen any potential in terms of “feasible” ideas or general design approach?
Out of the mouth of children comes truth! Time will tell if these children had seen it right. Of course these proposals are neither realistic nor feasible as they are, especially if we consider the current industrial process.
However, if we disregard production reality for a moment, we can identify some interesting design and mechanical cues that can bring forward a new, interesting vision for the automotive object.
We can easily imagine that developing a translucent material, as resistant and easy to shape as sheet metal, would probably bring to some significant evolutions in car design.
It’s exactly what we could find in Thomas’ sketch (above), where the car body side is entirely based on this innovation. It’s a good example of the hidden potential of an unrealistic proposal.
In the same way, we can find in many sketches the will to reconsider the driver’s position, which easily leads to some interesting exteriors.
Defining the interior architecture of a vehicle to define its exterior shape is actually a remarkable and quite effective design approach.
Another interesting issue is the overall ‘essential’ feel of all proposals, which tend to express more by means of the silhouette and the stance and not by refined or complicated details. This principle is very valuable in all design fields – keeping things simple always pays off!
What was the children reaction in seeing their ideas turned into fully colored, beautiful illustrations?
Realistic renderings have been just a part of the magical experience that they have lived. Everything had been planned so that the participants would enjoy an extraordinary moment at Peugeot Design Center in Paris.
Not only they have had the privilege to visit the ultra-confidential design studios, but they also had the pleasure to get on board the Onyx Concept that was on special display for them.
From the look in their eyes you could tell that they were simply astonished and full of joy! When I have unveiled the realistic rendering reinterpretation of their own sketches, one by one, kids and their families were just stunned and laughing with wonder.
The sketches have been projected on the big screens in the presentation room – I can imagine that this was already a blast for them! In any case they sure looked very proud of their project – a dream looking so real!
How did you build the scale model delivered as the first prize? Did you use rapid prototyping/3D printing?
The winner’s sketch was very essential, so we wanted the result to be quite pure as well. We decided to define the 3D surfaces without adding any detailing, thus there was no need in using 3D printing.
We milled the model in the traditional way and accurately prepared it with a few layers of primer so that the surface would look perfect in its copper plated finishing!
Beyond the wonder that discovering the model has produced in the kids, the most interesting and instructive point was being able to explain that design is based on teamwork and that results cannot be achieved by a single person.
Even this tiny and simple sculpture had demanded the joint work and effort of almost as many specialists as a real concept car: the designer, 3D modelling, surface modelling, milling specialist, painter, metallisation specialist, the graphic designer, and even the trimmer for the model’s velvet cover!
Teamwork is one of the great values of the Peugeot studio brand, it is important for us to share it with the next generation.
Thank you very much for the interview, Oliver!
(Image Courtesy: Peugeot for Car Body Design)