Taking a look at the allusive car designer Frank Stephenson, Biomimicry as well as his e-VTOL projects.
Frank Stephenson is one of the world’s most renowned and influential designers; from beginning his career with the Ford motor company in 1986 to as of late designing for Ferrari and McLaren for their latest showroom models, he’s shaped the car industry through his design expertise.
His approach to his designs is as he says triple threat. Whilst striving to push the boundaries to be innovative, there is research involved and for him to consider where his car will fit best inside the market.
“Making it right for that customer means obeying the design values of the company you’re working with”.
Typically one of his main philosophies is for the viewer to be able to identify the brand of the car without seeing the badge. The design should reflect the design language and history of the brand, but in an innovative way.
This is because the design of the car isn’t going to be released until in five years time, but then again there’s no way the public knows what they want in five years time. So perhaps you have to look even further down the road because you want it to look fresh.
This approach is common in car design. Often the main selling point of most of his designs is ‘love at first sight’; you look at something, it feels right and it take you hardly time to get used to it. It might be a revolutionary or perhaps standard practice design, ‘but as long as it achieves instant emotional desireability’ as he says - you’re on to a winner.
Biomimicry is an approach Stephenson takes to achieve that love at first sight. The biomimicry approach is design that is inspired by nature.
“It’s a free and intelligent way of designing”
It’s not that he wants his designs to look like a tree or a rock or whatever. In the biomimicry approach and general nature there are certain laws of proportion that just don’t change. Often within these golden laws, typically the result is a very well balanced agreeable design.
Some of his most accredited designs include his earliest work with the new generation Mini Cooper, and of course the headliner super cars such as the McLaren MP4-12C plus the Ferrari F430. Arguably though, one of his most greatest designs is the BMW E53 X5.
What’s now called a modern classic, the timeless design is one of Stephenson’s best sketches. Production began in 1999, to which the design features a good a balance of sleekness and the tough grunt that a SUV should have.
For what Stephenson is up to now, he’s set up the Frank Stephenson Design Consultancy. The consultancy has in the past taken aim at new age transportation, specifically with e-VTOL flying taxis. Of course with the words ‘e-VTOL’ and taxi’s in the same sentence it’s as innovative as any other of his designs.
“Design is not art. For me it’s what I love about it. It’s a combination of art and science; that’s the attractive part of it and also introduces the educational side, where we’re involving young people in the pre-development program for the lunar rover thats going to go up in 2024. There’s a lot of stuff happening at the moment - I could go on and on!“
Read more on Frank Stephenson’s consultancy here
Read the interview Stephenson did with The Apex here