Car design depends on teamwork, in sharp contrast to the social distancing the coronavirus pandemic has imposed. How does smart working change creative activity? What consequences will it have on the form of tomorrow’s cars? Auto&Design has asked these questions of carmaker design chiefs and independent style centres. Today is the turn of Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Group design.
How have you organised your work during this period of lockdown?
Since we work in close collaboration with many partners and teammates all over the world anyway, we are used to working with digital tools like Skype and data streaming. In a safe and remote way, these solutions enable us to work digitally on projects at the same time and offer a high degree of flexibility. We have an even greater need for these tools now due to the corona pandemic and are taking even greater advantage of them.
Once this period ends do you think it will have influenced the way you draw a car? How?
We are already entering the digital age, but the corona crisis will speed up this transformation. Physical drawing is always the most direct way of expressing any type of idea. The media I use to express my creativity is simply a matter of taste, performance and style. But of course a digital sketch done on any type of digital sketch pad can be transferred and communicated easier that a pencil drawing on paper.
If the design method changes, do the results change too?
Digital tools enable designers to create changes much more frequently and faster than ever before. On the other hand, that means you need a lot more discipline to come to a conclusion and to reach a perfect result. It can be compared to digital photography, for example: If you are limited to a 36-picture analog film roll you think twice about every picture you take, whereas digital photography has no limitations. But that does not mean that the quality of the pictures gets better, only the quantity. I don’t expect the design language to change as a result of this period of collaboration.
How many designers are actively working from home? Have you brought specific tools from the studio or can you do everything with normal PCs?
Seventy per cent of the team are working from home and we exchange information and results in daily stand-up meetings and Skype project meetings. With our professional set-up, the only action we needed to take was to extend the server capacities.
How important is inspiration from the outside for a designer? Is it sacrificed if you stay at home?
My design team is very international and used to coping with challenging situations, so I consider them to be well prepared to deal with it as long as everyone stays healthy, which is one No. 1 concern.