Interior design process at Buick: the role of clay sculpting

Interior design process at Buick: the role of clay sculpting

The role of traditional artistic clay modeling in the development and design of the interior of the Buick Avista Concept.


The official document released by Buick underlines the importance of traditional clay modeling in today’s automotive design process, which so heavily relies on digital tools, and gives some insights on the development of the door panel for the Avista Concept, revealed at this year’s NAIAS in Detroit.

Buick Avista Concept - Interior Design Sketch Render

While sketching and refining the door in digital mockups they reached the point where they wanted to see it in physical form.

Buick Avista Concept - Interior Design Sketch Render

They gave the detailed sketch to the clay sculptors and left the next step in their hands. For a designer, the transition from 2D to 3D is the moment of truth.

Buick Avista Concept - Interior Clay Model

“We are really fortunate to work with such a talented team of sculptors,” said Aaron Stich, creative designer for Buick.

Buick Avista Concept interior in Signet color

“They brought the design to life in a way we never could have imagined; it was absolutely inspiring to see how they interpreted what we had done with pen and paper. This is what it’s like in the Buick studio right now, there’s so much energy, and everyone is itching to contribute. It’s fueling the creative renaissance of the brand.”

Mark Dybis, creative sculptor, remembers his initial reaction when seeing the drawing of the door and quips that it reminded him of an M.C. Escher artwork.

Dybis, who has spent the majority of his decade long career as an automotive sculptor in the Buick studios explained the lofty nature of making this proposed door design work.

Buick Avista Concept - Interior Clay Model

“It was an amazing door design, but it was longer than we’re used to, so we knew we’d have to pay special attention to the curved lines to make the physical model look just as graceful as it did on the paper,” Dybis explains.

Buick Avista Concept - Interior Clay Model construction

“Our job is to bring the designers’ vision to life, and we know there are things that have to be considered when transitioning a drawing into the tangible world. In the end, I appreciate that a modern-looking car like the Avista, and all Buicks, are styled with time-honored methods like hand drawing and sculpting.”

In developing a vehicle, designers use a variety of tools to achieve the perfect blend of form and function. While every new Buick begins as a sketch, refining the design entails a range of methods to achieve a specific advantage or desired aesthetic.

Buick creative sculptor Mark Dybis working on the Avista Concept clay model

For example, clay sculpting by hand is unrivaled for the level of artistry and sophistication it brings to the surface detail while holograms and other digital 3D representations can help when considering how light reflects or how a car might look in different environments.

“Concept cars stretch the imagination and inspire the direction our production portfolio is heading,” said Stich.

“This door is just one example of how everyone in the Buick design studio is jumping at the chance to create designs that will stand the test of time and be more beautiful than the last. That’s how the collaborative process works – every iteration is an opportunity to outdo the one before it and create something so pleasing to the eye you can’t help but be amazed.”

(Source: Buick)

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