Sam Livingstone on Delivering Value Through Design

I’ve known Sam Livingstone for a number of years — 15 to be exact. Over that time span, I’ve been continually impressed by his perspectives on automotive design and his ability to dissect products and strategies. This is a skill set he’s procured over his many years as director of Car Design Research, a UK-based consultancy that works with many of the world’s largest car companies.

For this episode of FORMCAST I decided to record our conversation — which touches on a number of trends, from design in global markets, divergence and convergence — timecodes below if you want to skip around — to provide listeners with unparalleled insight into the current state and the future of mobility design.

We covered a lot of ground in this one and, thanks to Sam’s fascinating insight into the world of car design, our conversation turned into an erudite discussion on:

  • 3:15 – What is Car Design Research?
  • 6:20 – Clients programs and influence
  • 8:40 – The drawbacks of consultancy
  • 13:00 – The blurring of car design typologies
  • 16:00 – International cultural consumption; regional infrastructures
  • 18:50 – Chinese market informing others and missed opportunities
  • 20:55 – Breaking from western-centric ideas to reinvent the car in China
  • 26:30 – Designing for a usage scenario, not just the man
  • 28:00 – New possibilities afforded by thinking of mobility as secondary
  • 36:00 – The falsehood of brands reaching too far – unless it’s a Porsche pipe!
  • 42:20 – Fractionally-owned cars enables more spending and new opportunities
  • 46:30 – Personalization will be less individual and more about the fleet
  • 50:40 – 19 years at the Royal College of Art. What’s changed?
  • 55:10 – Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable in the car design process
  • 57:20 – Why taking risks in design is not always good…


Founded in 2012, Form Trends tirelessly covers the automotive design industry in all corners of the globe to bring you exclusive content about cars, design, and the people behind the products.