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House of Progress: An automotive approach to Design

House of Progress: An automotive approach to Design

The automotive world is making significant efforts toward a sustainable future, analyzing not only the possible impact vehicles may have on the environment but also how they can create more sustainable car designs overall.

On October 16th, four expert panelists met in Montreal for the first House of Progress panel in Canada to discuss sustainability and human centric design as well as how the industry is taking the climate crisis into consideration when crafting the next generation of vehicles. From their deliberation, one thing was certain, the future is electric, as the new Audi Grandsphere acted as a perfect backdrop behind the experts in attendance.

Panelists included author and placemaker Jay Pitter, Architect Omar Gandhi, Artist Dan Climan and Automotive Designer Jason Battersby. Battersby is an acclaimed designer who played a key role in crafting the Grandsphere, the latest electric vehicle to the Audi fleet. The experts engaged in discussions surrounding the future of mobility as well as the role electric vehicles play in addressing the climate crisis. Automotive design also came into play, as panelists contemplated how vehicles evoke nostalgia within a customer as well as an emphasis that sustainable design does not have to mean sacrificing power and beauty within vehicle appearance or performance.

Battersby has worked as a designer within Audi’s German Headquarters for 11 years, immersing himself within the development of both concept and production cars during that time. His latest work and addition to Audi’s electric fleet, the Grandsphere, was designed remotely during the pandemic, over video chat and online communication.

The designer attributes the success of the new vehicle concept to everyone on the team coming together with a common goal, a positive attitude and dedication to the project. The design of the vehicle had a heavy focus on sustainability as well as human emotion, with a design based in nostalgia. According to Battersby, good car design is rooted in nostalgia, like an art. As humans, we spend a lot of time in cars, experiencing the world through the windows even from a young age. A brand is recognizable, taking us back to our earliest memories. Classic cars, including classic Audis, carry so much weight of the brand.

“We never want to make a retro looking car,” Battersby explains, “Progress means we have been there, taking those good ideas and evolving them with different technology and materials. But there are certain hints and details that retain the Audi DNA and nostalgia without being a 1-1 interpretation of the retro vehicle.”

Sustainability in vehicle design means thinking about driving in new ways. According to panelist and architect Omar Gandhi, collaboration is the key to creating something important. Gandhi emphasized, during collaboration, there are no better or more important ideas. True, productive collaboration comes from a collection of ingredients and ideas manifesting together. Bold visions always see themselves through.

The Audi Grandsphere is a concept study, a private jet for the road. The 5.35 m (17.6 ft.) long sedan combines the luxury and comfort of private travel with new technology and onboard experiences. As the Grandsphere is a concept vehicle, no release date has been set, but it provides a glimpse of how tomorrow’s first-class automotive comfort will look: electric, automated and intuitive.

You can see four presenters discuss sustainable and human centric design in Canada’s first House of Progress Design panel below.

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