Alumni Update Issue 12

Balancing brand and innovation in transport design

Anthony Franzè and Rikard Orell

With creativity and heritage such intertwining parts of their work, it can be hard for industrial designers to balance their own ideas with the values of big brands. But two UniSA alumni have done just that with their innovative vehicle creations.

Anthony Franzè and Rikard Orell both studied a Bachelor of Industrial Design at UniSA and both developed a passion for cars in their childhood. The two designers have made successful careers in Australia and abroad, and images of their designs will be on display at the UniSA Industrial Design Graduate Exhibition  from 16 December to 29 January.

Anthony, who remembers the first car he drew as a child, says a career in industrial design was the perfect choice. After graduating he spent five years working at Milford Industries where he helped develop numerous automotive products, an experience he says was invaluable.

“It really made me appreciate how many factors need to work together in unison to deliver a successful product to market.”

In 2009 he began working on projects with the Local Motors automotive company in Phoenix Arizona, where he established connections with designers from across the world. It was through this platform he entered and won the 2013 BMW Urban Driving Experience Challenge, an international design competition for a futuristic car-sharing system.

Anthony’s entry, ‘BMW Reward Me’ (pictured), is designed to give people of all demographics access to BMW vehicles in the year 2025, and through a built-in points system encourages drivers to perform good deeds such as letting cars into traffic, assisting broken-down drivers and giving someone a lift.

Anthony Franze

“I think BMW really liked the fact the system goes beyond sustainability. Winning this challenge was especially validating as it was the culmination of so much hard work and perseverance.”

Anthony, who runs his own freelance design consultancy and recently began working at ICARUS Industrial Design in Adelaide, stresses the need for balance.

“The challenge I’ve continually faced is how to create a design that reflects my personal style but fits the objectives of a brand. You can be passionate about your opinion but it’s imperative to be open to better ideas others may have.”

Now lecturing in Product Design at UniSA, Anthony believes inspiration can come from other designers, which is why he entered ‘BMW Reward Me’ into December’s exhibition.

“The university is such a creative, innovative environment. A career in design can put many pressures on graduates, but the sacrifices are well worth it. I hope you make good use of your time, it’s your most valuable asset.”

“I had always been a car nut and it was my absolute dream to design cars,” says Swedish-born Rikard. “I like thinking about how the world could work better, and being challenged by new problems and possibilities.”

Rikard Orell

After leaving UniSA, Rikard began his career in the automotive industry at Holden, working on hub caps and spoilers to learn the trade. He decided to move back to Sweden and worked for Volvo Cars for a year before working once more for Holden as a contract designer. Returning to Gothenburg, he joined a consultancy specialising in transportation design.

After six years of working on trains, forklifts and construction equipment, Rikard was offered the position of Chief Designer for Volvo Trucks. In 2000 he was promoted to Design Director, a position he still holds today.

The 2012 Volvo FH truck, which Rikard has entered for the graduate showcase, was the first all-new product he and his team developed together, a process he says required balancing conflicting demands.

“The truck’s appearance, inside and out, is important because it communicates something about the brand. It was my job to inspire the design team to develop concepts that fulfilled all the practical, technical and economic conditions. Our vision was based on Volvo’s core values but we strived to do something truly new.”

Throughout their careers, Rikard and Anthony became aware of the complexities and challenges of designing for big brands, and both believe it all comes down to a balancing act.

“You need to find the right balance between being true to brand heritage and innovation so they don’t fall into nostalgia and conservatism,” Rikard says.

“I don’t think people realise appearance is only one aspect of great design – I love when we awe people with the look of our trucks but as it’s a functional tool, the best design is one so self-evident you cannot imagine any other way of doing it, which takes huge amounts of talent and effort.”

Both Rikard and Anthony’s designs can be seen in the Make it. Better. 2015 Industrial Design Graduate Exhibition held at the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery at the Hawke Centre from 16 December to 29 January. Their work and that of other Industrial Design alumni from UniSA and its antecedent institutions will be included as part of a bigger alumni exhibition planned for 2016. Graduates interested in submitting work can submit via this website.

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