In an era of cost optimisation and platform sharing, details have taken on a key role in determining the choices of the consumer, and the job of the designer is becoming increasingly strategic in importance. With no structural, technological or mechanical differences to distinguish them, one could even mistake cars from rival brands for one another if it were not for the details. In the world of product design, this phenomenon is even more widespread. Electrolux, Sony, Philips and Nokia produce practically identical products that differ only in purely aesthetic details.

The clothes we wear, the objects we surround ourselves with and the car we drive all convey something about ourselves. Brand preference is never by chance and the companies know it.

There is a sort of mathematical formula explaining how the strength of a brand lies in the consumer forming an immediate connection between its products and its genes (origins, history and values), and the greatest strength of the designer is his or her ability to apply this formula to new products.

The students of the first year of the Strategic Design course at the Umeå Institute of Design were asked to put themselves in the shoes of just such a designer in a project titled “Designing a vehicle on the ethos of a “Non-Vehicle Brand”, in which they were required to create a car for a non-automotive brand that expressed the identity of the brand itself in the shape of a vehicle. The results of the project were fresh new ideas infused with the more immediate and concrete vision of design typical of industrial and product design, a vision based on intriguing details, new solutions and original packaging.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 180

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