How Car Designers Work in a Design Studio

Updated on January 24, 2019
luciano63 profile image

Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design. Born in Italy, he graduated from 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 an article about it. So here I am trying to write about this unknown working environment.

First of all, I want to say that to be a car designer is a very special thing for 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 150 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 also have some scale models of important projects realized in the past as decoration but also as a trophy!

Clay Model

The day starts between 8 and 9 o'clock with coffee and croissants few words with other colleagues and then everybody at their working area, in the design process we start a project from ideation sketching and brainstorming 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 the details painted like real cars for final presentation! At the end, we will have the winning 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. 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 briefing. 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 work together without causing problems for the team and the system.

Alias Generated Model

A designer goes to work in the morning 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 explain that there must be a different way to problem-solving without changing the proposed design. In a few words designers have a really 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 challenging one: to help the system to change!

At the end of this rough 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 purposes to nurture their brains, to auto shows to see other colleagues' 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 lot of designers that work in smaller studios or for suppliers, and for them, life can be less exciting. Different are the reasons, smaller studios equal 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 panel company design studio will work on door panels 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, the bottom line is: a talented car designer will always be happy because she/he is paid for what she/he loves to do!

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Luciano Bove

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      • profile image

        Allwin franklin. 

        21 months ago

        helo iam from India, Please tell me Particular course for designing automotive transportation. Is there any PG Degree required? Is it available in india?

      • profile image

        Ravi 

        2 years ago

        This article is good and informative. but I want to know what is the requirement or planning for car designer's office? the area, how the layout is made all...

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        4 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 :)

      • profile image

        ZTanim 

        4 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        5 years ago from Paris

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

      • profile image

        zura 

        5 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        5 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.

      • profile image

        Kamlesh Tiwana 

        5 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        5 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!

      • profile image

        ali 

        6 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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?

      • profile image

        sina555 

        6 years ago

        can you please answer my question.

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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.

      • profile image

        sina555 

        6 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 years ago from Paris

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

      • profile image

        sina555 

        6 years ago

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

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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?

      • profile image

        Sina555 

        6 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

      • profile image

        kiran 

        6 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??

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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!

      • profile image

        abhishek 

        6 years ago

        sir please do reply...i am waiting

      • profile image

        Abhishek 

        6 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???

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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.

      • profile image

        Abhishek 

        6 years ago

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

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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.

      • profile image

        Nico 

        6 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?

      • profile image

        Abhishek from INDIA 

        6 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]

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 years ago from Paris

        Fari thanks!

      • profile image

        Fari 

        6 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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!

      • profile image

        CK 

        6 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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?

      • profile image

        CK 

        6 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

      • profile image

        CK 

        6 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

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        6 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

      • profile image

        CK 

        6 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

      • profile image

        smrutibhushan bijayananda dash 

        6 years ago

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

      • profile image

        ubuiuy 

        7 years ago

        mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      • breakingnews profile image

        breakingnews 

        7 years ago from Pakistan

        Good information on your hub and blogspot

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        7 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

      • profile image

        royce  

        7 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?

      • profile image

        kdoshi6 

        7 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

      • profile image

        kdoshi6 

        7 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.

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        7 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

      • profile image

        kdoshi6 

        7 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

      • profile image

        lulu 

        7 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.

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Thank you Ese!

      • profile image

        Ese 

        8 years ago

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

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Emanuele thank you for your comment!

      • profile image

        Emanuele 

        8 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

      • profile image

        6.2litercamaro 

        8 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

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        For Art Teacher,

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

      • profile image

        Art Teacher 

        8 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Try you never know!

        Thanks for your comment.

      • profile image

        Kuba 

        8 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        I smell markers and fixative spray!

      • profile image

        Mr squigle 

        8 years ago

        i smell bacon!!

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Thanks Konfor for your comment!

      • profile image

        Konfor Sidney Sils 

        8 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.

      • profile image

        Miniskooge 

        8 years ago

        Thankyou luciano !!

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 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!

      • profile image

        miniskooge 

        8 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 imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Thank you Dias.

      • profile image

        Dias 

        8 years ago

        Thank you so much for this wonderful article Luciano =)

        I wish I had that luck...

      • luciano63 profile imageAUTHOR

        Luciano Bove 

        8 years ago from Paris

        Hi Danny thanks for reaiding.

      • profile image

        Danny Chhang 

        8 years ago

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

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