Artificial Intelligent in Automotive Design

posted in: News

In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive design, the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has sparked both excitement and apprehension. As designers, modellers, and enthusiasts, we find ourselves at the crossroads of innovation and uncertainty, pondering the implications of AI on our craft.

The adoption of AI tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion have ushered in a new era of creativity within the design industry. These cutting-edge technologies offer designers unparalleled capabilities to iterate, refine, and optimize designs throughout the development process, in ways, and time frames, that would have been simply impossible before.

As a digital modeller I’m also aware of the growing number of 3D Modelling AI platforms that are in their infancy but developing at the rapid rate we are now taking for granted in our field. What does the future hold for digital modellers and how will our jobs and skills change and adapt in this new landscape?

No doubt time will tell. But I, like many of my automotive colleagues, like to think that AI can never be truly creative, appreciate design trends or form subtleties, and consequently there will always be a need for creatives and experts to steer this revolution.

TR25 on display at The British Motor Museum

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Following Makkina’s unveiling of its Triumph TR25 in London in July, the car went on display at the British Motor Museum alongside its original inspiration – the record-breaking ‘Jabbeke’ Triumph TR2, MVC575.

Makkina’s modern day interpretation of the TR2 fits in perfectly, with looks that take cues from its legendary predecessor, combined with modern technology and a contemporary feel that perfectly balances old and new. The TR25 will be on display from late July for at least 8 weeks, so make sure to visit the Sports Car display to see it for yourself.

Makkina TR25 Launch Event

posted in: News, Unveilings

On July 13 2023 Makkina held its 25th Birthday Party at Woods Quay on the Victoria Embankment, London. It took the opportunity to launch its first concept car in the company’s history, the aptly named Makkina Triumph TR25 in recognition of its birthday.

Taking inspiration from the iconic Triumph ‘Jabbeke’ TR2, the recently launched Triumph TR25 show car was built to emulate one of the most respected cars from the Triumph brand. Featuring a signature ‘25’ in the headlamps to commemorate 25 years of Makkina, the TR25 is a product of many years of professional successes. Sporting the same pale blue-green colour as the original ‘Jabbeke’ TR2, which took part in speed trials in Jabbeke, Northern Belgium, 70 years ago, the Triumph TR25 is a perfect blend of past and present.

Many of Makkina’s clients, colleagues and friends attended the party see the unveiling to celebrate the company’s 25 years in business. The evening turned out to be a wonderful warm and intimate night. One that I shall remember for a long time.

Alias Sub-D Modelling

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Alias Sub Divisional Modelling has been around for a good few years now. But initially I was sceptical of how it would fit into my workflow. Around the time the software first became available I did a couple of tutorials and concluded that I could build a car quicker in Nurbs.

But over the next couple of years the software became more and more adopted and talked about within the car industry. Clients also started requested model programs in Sub-D, something they previously had not specified. So late in 2021 I decided I could no longer ignore this software and took a week off work to learn it. But this time with a much more open mind. This turned out to be fortuitous as by the beginning of 2022 I had to deliver my first Sub-D Model to a client. This was subsequently followed by another couple of client models in Sub-D.

My attitude towards the software has completely changed. Although the workflow initially feels alien to an experienced Nurbs modeller, Sub Divisional Modelling is incredibly simple in terms of tools and workflow. After an initial steep learning curve the software soon becomes very easy to use and very powerful. With delivery of beautiful client models in several of days a reality and something that simply is not possible in Nurbs. Personally it feels amazing to be faced with a new challenge and a new way of modelling after having used Nurbs for over 20 years

As we head through 2022, I can see a that I will be spending more and more time using Sub-D and less and less using Nurbs. As an Exterior Concept Modeller it is only a matter of time before Sub-D is my dominant modelling tool.

2021 The Car Industry Rebounds

posted in: News

After such a difficult year in 2020, where I spend several months without work, it was hard to imagine that 2021 was going to be the complete opposite. Still if history has taught me anything it is that the Car Industry bounces back big and hard after a period of down time, and that is exactly what happened in 2021.

By the end of January 2021 the projects were pouring in and I found myself in a difficult position of whether to carry on working with Bentley Motors or return to Makkina. I had strong ties to both companies, and over the previous 15 years had found myself invariably working for one or the other. Eventually I decided to part ways with Bentley and start once more working with Makkina.

The rest of the year was a whirlwind as the OEM’s tried to pull their projects on track after months of being on hold in 2020. Personal it was a relief to be so busy and and refreshing to see working from home working so effectively. Something previously not considered possible by most.

As we move into 2022 the projects the industry in showing no signs of letting up. Fingers crossed that we can see an end to the pandemic and start to return to some sort of normality.

Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020

posted in: News

It’s fair to say that 2020 is a year that no one is going to forget… ever. Like a lot of people, this year has been pretty difficult to navigate and to remain employed. After finishing my contract at Charge Cars I returned to Makkina In November 2019. At the time the studio was very busy with several amazing projects lined up for early 2020.

But as we approached March 2020 these projects suddenly started disappearing as Europe and Asian went into lockdown. Most OEM work dried up overnight and I was facing the prospect of having no work or contract for the first time in my life. I wasn’t alone – many of my colleagues and friends were finding themselves in the same situation.

The next 6 months proved to be extremely difficult and I found myself not working for weeks at a time. Luckily Makkina were still attracting clients and I was also able to pick up a couple of private jobs as well, but it remained difficult both financially and mentally. At the time I assumed everything would return to normal fairly soon, and I just needed to stick things out. But as the year dragged on and a second lockdown loomed it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the case.

By September a few of the OEM’s were re-employing their contractors, with Bentley being one such company. I contacted my old colleagues with the prospect of contracting for them again for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, for me, this has paned out and I have work to see me through til Christmas.

It is now mid November and I wondering what next year is going to bring. There are signs that the industry is steadily starting to build momentum once again. I hope this is the case and 2021 is not a repeat of this year. Fingers crossed!

New contract at Charge Automotive, London

posted in: Appointments

In September 2019, I finished my contract at Makkina and started working with Charge Automotive, a new EV company based in the heart of London. I joined a rapidly growing team of highly talented individuals responsible for the development of the company’s 1960’s Electric Mustang concept. We are now tasked with developing and delivering 499 of these cars for production and sale to a select number of individuals.

Company profile as on the Charge Cars website;

“Charge Automotive is a British company based in London. Our team has extensive experience in the development of luxury and high performance vehicles. Our engineers contributed to various projects for McLaren Automotive, Jaguar Land Rover and F1 Racing Teams. Moreover, we are passionate about eternal automobile classics!

We redefine great classic cars with advanced electric technology while preserving their iconic design. We believe in an emission-free future while giving ultimate performance to epic autolegends.”

I have literally just started this position so there is little to say… though I can tell you that it’s a highly exciting and stimulating environment to be in. And completely unlike any other position I have had in the past!

Bentley re-imagines the future of Grand Touring on its 100th Birthday

posted in: Unveilings

Bentley Motors celebrated its 100th birthday by unveiling its vision of the future of luxury mobility at the home of Bentley in Crewe. The Bentley EXP 100 GT is a physical embodiment of the future Bentley brand, reimagining Grand Touring for the future.

Beyond mere mobility, the Bentley EXP 100 GT concept car will enhance the owner’s Grand Touring experience, whether driving or being driven autonomously.

Designed from the inside out and taking advantage of an all-electric platform, Bentley EXP 100 GT reimagines the Grand Tourer for the world of 2035. This is a world of shared luxury experiences where passenger and driver enjoy equal status in their enjoyment of their extraordinary journeys. The cars’ presence and impressive exterior proportions are reminiscent of many of Bentley’s historic Grand Tourers but take these luxury hallmarks into the future. The result is a future vision commensurate with Bentley’s status as the world’s most sought after luxury brand.

Adrian Hallmark, Bentley Chairman and CEO, said:

“Today, on our Centenary, we demonstrate our vision of the future of our Marque, with the Bentley EXP 100 GT – a modern and definitive Grand Tourer designed to demonstrate that the future of luxury mobility is as inspirational and aspirational as the last 100 years. Bentley has, and will continue to enhance and enrich every single journey and the lives of every single person who travels in, or has the honour to be a part of creating our extraordinary products.”

Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design added:

“The Bentley EXP 100 GT represents the kind of cars we want to make in the future. Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.” 

Unfortunately I had left Bentley Motors before this concept was unveiled. However I did get to play a central role in the design and development of the GT for several months. Having considerable involvement in the early concept development, platform proportions, and the final design proposal before l leaving the company late last year. It was amazing several months later to see the actual car. What an amazing achievement by the team at Bentley. Well done everyone!

New contract at Makkina, London

posted in: Appointments

In October 2018 I was offered the opportunity to work with Makkina in Notting Hill, London. After 14 or so years of working with OEM’s it was exciting to switch things up a gear and work with this world renowned Automotive Design Consultancy led by its founder Michael Ani. I joined a team of extremely talented designers and modellers working closely with an impressive array of international clientele.

Company profile as on the Makkina website;

“Makkina was founded in 1998 by Michael Ani following many years’ experience in the automotive industry, with a number of concept and production cars already to his name, his goal was to establish a creative automotive design consultancy which should also work hand in hand with the OEM’s. In operating closely and discreetly as an extension of their own design facilities. Makkina has established strong links with its clients, who include OEM’s in Europe, Asia and the USA. Projects are undertaken from early ideation sketch phase, through digital and physical modelling, through to full-size prototype.”

During my short time there I have worked numerous projects from early concepts through to digital and physical models. Due to the discreet nature of the work we do at Makkina it is not possible to talk about this in any more detail. But rest assured it is fast paced, exciting and extremely varied!

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