Fiat has tapped students enrolled in the Royal College of Art’s Vehicle Design program to design the next generation Fiat 500 or Panda. The initiative, which Fiat has coined ‘Two of a Kind’, seeks to gain students input on how they envision the evolution of the Italian carmaker’s iconic models.
Though some projects traditionally ask students to interpret the design of an existing model in the distant future, Fiat — perhaps sensing students’ wild notions or the RCA’s conceptual approach — has actually tailored the project to target the year 2020, providing not only a useful — if challenging — exercise, but also one that might prove incredibly useful as the company’s designers attempt to create a successor for Frank Stephenson’s remake of the iconic 500.
The students, divided into 14 teams of two, have been asked to develop both an interior and an exterior proposal for the vehicle of choice while keeping Fiat’s brand identity at the center of the exercise and by using the carmaker’s design language as a starting point. They will choose to work in conjunction with a textile or an interface designer to develop concepts that explore innovative ‘outside the box’ ideas while taking interactivity, digital interface, sustainability and global appeal into account.
In order to closely follow the students progress, Fiat’s Head of Design Roberto Giolito, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, Head of Global Design, and Exterior Design Chief Andreas Wuppinger will be popping in to the classrooms every few weeks to see how their work is developing and provide input on the project. Fiat will deliver six RCA lectures in total, with each lecture focussing on a different theme.
The series culminates on December 11th 2013 with final student presentations, with the winning projects to be judged by senior Fiat designer heads, RCA department heads and Fiat UK’s Managing Director, Steve Zanlunghi.
The winning students will take their final designs to Fiat’s Centro Stile in Turin in January, where they will meet with clay modellers and turn their designs into quarter scale models. These will be unveiled at the students’ RCA degree show in June 2014. These students will also be offered internships at Fiat’s Centro Stile between July 2014 and February 2015.
Though there’s an inherent value to providing this experience — and opportunity — to the students, we can’t help but think there’s a bigger engine churning in the Centro Stile. Fiat UK’s Managing Director did not overlook this fact.
“The students get to experience how a design proposal is put together, harnessing their creativity, passion and vision to produce an exciting concept that innovates and delights and but with an eye to practicality and feasibility,” said Zanlunghi. “Fiat, meanwhile, enjoys an influx of fresh ideas, creative solutions and pure design talent, all of which are essential to keeping Fiat at the forefront of design and technological innovation in the future.”