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How Car Designers Work in a Design Studio. Design Process.

Updated on December 17, 2016
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Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design, born in Italy he studied at Art Center College of Design in California.

Car Designers at Work

Hi friends, some of you asked me recently to describe a day at work for a car designer and I promised I was going to write a hub about it. So here I am trying to write about this unknown working envorinment. First of all I want to say that to be a car designer is a very special thing always for all lucky people like me. We are lucky simply because we had the opportunity to study what we love and ended up working for what we love, talent is the most important thing (no talent no job) and professional attitude is second most important thing to have to play the game correctly (discipline, be humble, hard work).

In general car designers work in design studio in which they have all tools to perform at their best, paper, colors, markers, chalks, color pencils, computers, all sort of computer illustration programs like Photoshop, Paint, Illustrator, then they also have Alias, Blender...3D digital modeling programs all on same computer working station. The design studios have plotters and printing devices to print in big sizes like 1,50 meters by 5 or 6 meters long on which we can have a big presentation from ideation sketching to final renderings all well organized on paper. Every designer has his working space with a nice big desk with a drawer a nice lamp and an ergonomic chair, the design studio is organized to put on the walls all sort of drawings and big printed presentations. Naturally there is always a coffee machine area with some design chair and a small coffee table, moreover there is also a spot (area) with special design and car magazines. In design studios we have also some scale models of important projects realized in the past as decoration but also as trophy!


Clay Model

The day starts between 8 and 9 o'clock with coffee and croissants few words with other collegues and then everybody at their working area, in the design process we start a project from ideation sketching and brainstroming which is done at the beginning in group and later each one continues by him/herself, will follow the step of first real proposals until proposing renderings. After this 2D stage we get to the 3D virtual stage which means starting to work with Alias modeling programs to see the car volumes and completing it until the smallest detail. The chosen designs (3 or 4) go to milling to see them in 3D real volumes...real models with wheels. At the final step go 2 of them which will be corrected again in Alias (virtual 3D) and later re-milled and finished with all details painted like real cars for final presentation! At the end we will have the winner project which will go to production process with design managers , expert designers and engineers and suppliers.

Now all those steps are possible thanks to presentations to move on to following steps and they are done with studio design managers, directors, etc etc... Designers live those phases with excitement, but also frustration, with passion (following models) and concern about being on the right track with their design in relation with the project breafing. Competition is high, but friendship and good relations are also very good. We all work in teams and education, personality, good sense are important to live all together without causing problems to the team and the system.

Alias Generated Model

A designer goes to work in the mornig motivated, he has his baby to take care of (his project), he/she will have to overcome technical problems to still make a good emotional and appealing design. He/she has to talk, convince,sell his/her creativity with technical people and engineers who will try (almost always) to repeat what they know and have done already...so it takes big efforts, professionality and patience to explaine that there must be a different way to problem solving without changing the proposed design. In a few words designers have a real nice part of the day which is the creative conception (sketching, searching, doing design), however they also have another part of the day during which they must push the system to change...and this part is a bit stressy...for some (like me) this part is a challanging one: to help the system to change!

At the end of this rugh explanation of a designer day at work I would like also to tell you that designers do travel for business to suppliers for follow ups, to design schools to follow sponsored projects or workshops, to cities around the world for cultural pourposes tu nurture their brains, to auto shows to see other collegues' models and concepts (like in Geneva or LA or Tokyo). I believe that car designers after all have a beautiful job!

Of course this designer job life is not for all designers. In big design studios it is more or less as I wrote, but there are also a lots of designers that work in smaller studios or for suppliers and for them life can be less exciting. Different are the reasons, smaller studios equals smaller budgets so before making a scale 1 to 1 model the competition is really hard, or ,some of them design only parts of given projects (door pannel company design studio will work on door pannels only). Some designers are also in very prestigious design studios but working for years on the same project evolution: Porsche for example! Ferrari! Bentley! Rolls Royce!

Anyway bottom line is: a talented car designer will be always happy because she/he is paid for what she/he loves to do!

I hope you did not fall to sleep! Down 2 images to help you to see clay hand made model and Alias virtual model.

© 2010 Luciano Bove

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    • Danny Chhang 6 years ago

      great write up as always. Some day I will be a designer too.

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      Hi Danny thanks for reaiding.

    • Dias 6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this wonderful article Luciano =)

      I wish I had that luck...

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      Thank you Dias.

    • miniskooge 6 years ago

      Hi Luciano , thanks for all these great information regarding the process of cardesign followed in studios , i have a query , is it compulsory for a designer to use alias ,, or are there separate digital designers assisting the designer to build surfaces ?

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      Dear Miniskooge,

      in some cases there are digital alias designers assisting designers. In other cases designers make themeselves first sketch matemathic before giving it to digital alisa model makers for a professional detailed job.

      keep in touch!

    • Miniskooge 6 years ago

      Thankyou luciano !!

    • Konfor Sidney Sils 6 years ago

      that was some big lesson for me. I am a self made and lone working car designer. I do it my way but tha's not what's important. What's important is how designers like myself are supposed to work.

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      Thanks Konfor for your comment!

    • Mr squigle 6 years ago

      i smell bacon!!

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      I smell markers and fixative spray!

    • Kuba 6 years ago

      It's a pity my hands are not made for art sketching/painting, however i woul like to step into design processes in marine (yachts) industry... probably as an engineer, but who knows... maybe as a designer ;)

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      Try you never know!

      Thanks for your comment.

    • Art Teacher 6 years ago

      Thank you for this posting. I have a very talented student that is drawing car designs already in 8th grade as well as some designers. However, I am especially thankful for your comments on professionalism, attitude and working together. This is something he struggles with (a lot of attitude).

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 6 years ago from Paris

      For Art Teacher,

      encourage him to keep on sketching and drawing! Thanks for your kind words.

    • 6.2litercamaro 6 years ago

      thank you for this it was very informative. ive always dreamed to be a car designer. its my dream job any good advice you could tell about getting better on drawing cars and working to get to being a designer

    • Emanuele 5 years ago

      Hi Luciano, it was a great pleasure to read all of this interesting matter.

      I fully agree on all description both practical and emotional.

      Very good

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 5 years ago from Paris

      Emanuele thank you for your comment!

    • Ese 5 years ago

      Cool article...arti-cool! :-)

    • luciano63 profile image
      Author

      Luciano Bove 5 years ago from Paris

      Thank you Ese!

    • lulu 5 years ago

      Thank you for the great article.

      I'm also studying industrial design.

      i was wondering how do you communicate with engineer for collaboration?

      i had an opportunity to work at design studio.

      and had to argue with engineers.

    • kdoshi6 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful explanation luciano! I've been searching for something like this for a long time.

      I had a question which I think you would be able to answer. I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech (which is supposed to be one of the best for this field of engineering) and the main reason I got into this field is because I wanted go into car design, except I don't have the artistic talent. I have the creative side just not the ability. I was wondering if you could elaborate for me more of how engineers are used in the design process and if there is any kind of position or job for someone like me who is very interested but is more talented in the engineering/math/physics aspect rather than the artistic ability.

      Also, if there is anyway we could talk more about this (via email or whatever) that would be great, because I have so many question and I don't want to risk my future on wrong information, so someone as experienced and in the work already could help me a bit, it would be much apreciated

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 5 years ago from Paris

      Dear kdoshi6,

      thanks for commenting so well about my Hub. In your case I think you could have a chance to work one day in automotive industry and close to design department. Where I work I am design manager for Innovative technology prototypes projects...this means that I work for advanced engineers whom develop projects with new innovative technologies...they study new stuff and I interpretate with my team the design of those projects. This type of activity is very creative compared to production projects cooperations.

      Look for me on Facebook and become fan on car design education tips blog on FB and we will get in contact.

      Ciao,

      Luciano

    • kdoshi6 5 years ago

      Alright, Can we communicate via email simply because I do not use FB much, and this information is crucial to me, if that is not to much to ask.

      But thank you again for such wonderful insight.

      Also, I was hoping if you could give a little more information on the kind of engineers you work with and what kind of educational path I need to take to get to something as exciting as what you describe.

    • kdoshi6 5 years ago

      Also, if i'm understanding this clearly, the engineers you work with, create concepts and cutting edge technologies, then they go to your team and you guys work on the aesthetic part of the new stuff they create

    • royce  5 years ago

      hey thanks for the article,i loved your article. i got an idea how cars are designed. i want to be a car designer, and a do sketch cars.i'm currently studying my BFA(bachelor in fine art). can you please tell me of any important course that i have to do inorder to get into a design studio. i want to design the exterior. please can you tell me in detail how to go about to become a car designer. and which design studio do you work?

    • luciano63 profile image
      Author

      Luciano Bove 5 years ago from Paris

      Hi Royce,

      if you are interested in how to become a car designer just read my hubs here or my blog:

      http://www.lucianobove.blogspot.com

    • breakingnews profile image

      breakingnews 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Good information on your hub and blogspot

    • ubuiuy 4 years ago

      mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    • smrutibhushan bijayananda dash 4 years ago

      i want to design a most beautyfull car,but i am help less! how to do something plz suggest me...........?

    • CK 4 years ago

      Great article! I do have some questions, not about your article, but about getting into the job and being a part of major auto companies (like Toyota, Audi, etc.)

      I am currently a 3rd year high school student planning to take up Industrial Design when I graduate. I am bad at math (any computing) but the best at school when it comes to design sketches (according to friends and teachers); not just cars but other things as well. I have been drawing since I was very young but I probably started with car design at 9 or 10. I always do sketches with pencil but rarely with pens and very rare with colors.

      I consider myself a multi-designer because I can design all sorts of things as long as I know its basic functions and uses. Architecture, interior design, and business management are my other choices. Sadly they all consist of math with architecture being the most math-filled course down to b. management being the lowest math-filled course. Math, any sort, is my Strongest weakness. Next is location from major art schools and studios. Why? I live in Philippines and the best art school available here is the La Salle - College of Saint Benilde. Having a dedicated and extremely advanced school (which costs Philippine Peso 1.2B), I hope that this will help win the hearts or at least the acceptancr of studios internationally.

      I'm a middle-class 16 going 17 year old, who dreams to be a car designer with signifcant and recognizable works.

      Do you have any advice or tips on how I can achieve this life-long dream?

      Also, what was your age when you started living your dream?

      Thanks again for this great article and sorry for this mini-biography of mine. I just want to achieve my dream.

      -CK

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Dear CK,

      thanks for your comment. I will try to answer to your questions.

      Math is not a problem because a car design school is about art-creativity-modeling-virtual modeling-drawing-illustrating-presenting-and a little of Math...

      I was 19 when I started my adventure and at that time I was in your same scenario! I had the chance to go to USA and study at Art Center in Pasadena.

      http://lucianobove.blogspot.fr/2012/03/luciano-bov...

      I think that for you in order to become a car designer you should try to apply to foreign good car design schools. In my articles here on Hubpages you will find more than 40 articles about it! So just read the hub you might be interested in to look for your answers.

      Good luck

      Luciano

    • CK 4 years ago

      Wow! Thanks a lot! You are so lucky. I am so much more confident knowing there isn't much math at all.

      As a middle-class person, I will try to convince my family to send me to USA, since USA have the schools suited in my interest. Btw, how much was the tuition fee there and how long does it take to finish the course?

      Thanks for the link as well! You are seriously a big help and I hope that we can stay in contact in the future in case I need further help.

      Thanks again!

      -CK

    • CK 4 years ago

      Oh btw, i forgot to ask these questions.

      What are the requirements to enter the school other than a portfolio?

      What will the portfolio contain?

      I am good with english. For sure, I need to learn other languages as well, but what are your recommended languages while in the business?

      I want to gather as much info as I can to be prepared for international communications and basically, the school itself.

      Thanks again! I want to live my dream, just like you.

      -CK

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      CK

      english toefl test with a score of 650 minimum

      Portfolio

      tuition I do not know today (I did it a long a go and it was expensive...in Italy is cheaper)

      OK?

    • CK 4 years ago

      Okay, thanks again for the informations!

      Sadly I can't go to Italy, we have no relatives or friends near there. My best choice is at Pasadena because I have cousins who live at Los Angeles.

      Thanks again Mr. Luciano!

      I wish you the best luck with your designs and projects!

      -CK

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      CK thank you! Pasadena is going to be the best choice and this is for you: http://lucianobove.blogspot.fr/2012/03/luciano-bov...

      Ciao!

    • Fari 4 years ago

      Thank u so much for the information. im an 18 year old boy working towards becoming a car designer. it has been my life dream. after reading your article, ive become far more inspired into achieving this goal! thank you once more.

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Fari thanks!

    • Abhishek from INDIA 4 years ago

      Hello sir...i am a vry innovative guy with superb imaginatn abt developng new products/designs.....i want to design cars n bikes...+...i also want to develop new technologies...as like the iron man suit and technology used in' The Iron Man movie'.....right now i am doing b.tech in mechanical engg....Now what to do next to become what i wantd as told u above....pls...pls....reply

      frm abhishek deol [india]

    • Nico 4 years ago

      Hi!

      Very nice hub!

      What makes a difference between a digital designer who is very creative, so that he can manage the full design development of his car alone, and a designer who cannot do the same so he needs the digital designer to do all his work for him? Considering this, what should I study better, digital design or transportation design?

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Nico,

      if you want to be a designer you must study transportation designer because in the program you have also digital courses with alias.

    • Abhishek 4 years ago

      Hello sir....pls reply an answer for my questn.......

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Dear Abhishek my answer to Nico is the same for you. You need a transportation Design school to be a designer.

    • Abhishek 4 years ago

      Thanks for d reply but i have one confusion right now i m doing b.tech in mechanicl engg. but as found in carbodydesignnews.com u hav to join an art centre of design school in order to design cars so shuld i go for this or shld i do m.tech in industrial design?? and if i hav to do industrial design then in which one .i.e. in product design or transportation design???

    • abhishek 4 years ago

      sir please do reply...i am waiting

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Abhishek it all depends of what you want to be: Industrial designer or Transportation designer? Once you decide you know what to choose!

    • kiran 4 years ago

      sir im frm india, i wanted to know will architecture(b arch) be useful for becoming a transportation designer??(im planning to do architecture and transportation design(in a foreign school) later) pls comment!:) architecture being a five year course wat is the duration of transportation design degree??

    • Sina555 4 years ago

      dear luciano, I am 16 years old I live in Ottawa, Canada can you recommend a good school and a good website where I can learn the basics of drawing, Thanks

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      hi Sina, several good schools like CCS in Detroit, ACCD in Pasadena california, IAAD in Turin Italy....check those websites: www.cardesignnews.com www.carbodydesign.com www.lucianobove.blogspot.com www.idsketching.com

      OK?

    • sina555 4 years ago

      Hi Luciano, thank you for you advice. Can you tell me the difference between industrial design and transportation design

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Industrial Design is the learning of designing about everything you see...Transportation design is about transoportation mainly cars.

    • sina555 4 years ago

      thanks for the reply, I want to be a car designer and I was wondering if I could get my BA in industrial design and then my MA in transportation design or do I have to just get my BA in transportation design to become a car designer

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      directly transportation design because during the first 2 years in general design schools do both disciplines before concentrating on car design.

    • sina555 4 years ago

      can you please answer my question.

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 4 years ago from Paris

      Hi Sina, I do not know any good TD Design school in Canada...to have all infos about design schools just check their websites and here you will find the full list: http://www.cardesignnews.com/site/careers/design_s...

      OK?

    • ali 4 years ago

      Hey I was wonderinghow much do you earn per car and if you don't design a car do you still get paid

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 3 years ago from Paris

      Sina, find me on facebook check "LB car design education tips" from there we can get in contact...I know i am very late in my answer...sorry!

    • Kamlesh Tiwana 3 years ago

      sir, my son aged 9 years has got creative ideas about car designing and he does so by using all the unused and waste article and design some thing unique, I think you must call him to your institute to guide him or explore his hidden talent.

      Thanks !

      Kamlesh

      tiwanakamlesh03@yahoo.com

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 3 years ago from Paris

      Dear Kamlesh, please 9 years old is too soon...just let himl play with his passions and genuine talent and in 7 years you will see with him what type of studies he should make.

    • zura 2 years ago

      Welcome.'m A beginner designer, if you have not bothered to look at my pictures at this link https://www.facebook.com/zura.kakashvili.5/media_s...

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 2 years ago from Paris

      I checked it! not bad for a beginner...

    • ZTanim 2 years ago

      That was quite nice an article. Admirable!

      Thanks for sharing. I found it to be helpful :)

      Another thing that I liked that sooner or later you try to get back to the commentors which is very generous of you seemed to me.

      Would like to read more good posts from you in future.

    • luciano63 profile image
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      Luciano Bove 2 years ago from Paris

      Hi ZTanim and thanks for your encouraging comment...check all my HUBs...they treat same topic from different points of view :)

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