There are a few high profile design festival weeks around the globe, but the one at the forefront of many new launches and developments is the annual Salone del Mobile festival in Milan. This year, Sussex Associate Tutor and Brighton based designer, Claire Potter was invited to Milan to see how Ford is pushing design innovation, and exactly how they fitted into the Salone del Mobile festival…‘Traditionally, the Salone del Mobile has been described as ‘the global benchmark for the home furnishing sector’, which does not really fit with the automotive sector. However, as we all know, design is multi-faceted and many areas flow into the next – including inspiration, so it was very interesting to see how Ford, who were the first automotive company to exhibit at Salone del Mobile in 2013, approach the subject of design philosophy and product design.
Of course, any car is the sum of multiple designers, iterations and decisions, but could the general philosophy of the overall design be applied to completely new sectors? This was the challenge that Ford set their global design teams for their 2015 Salone stand. ‘Create an object with thought, not just styling that can be delivered with an efficient use of materials – using the philosophy of the new Ford GT interior design as inspiration’.
126 proposals were returned from the in-house Ford Design team, ranging from a sandwich to a guitar – 10 of which were selected to be shown at the 2015 Salone del Mobile exhibition in Milan.
So – why was this an important and interesting design exhibition? As Moray Callum, Global Vice President of Design at Ford explained ‘we are not permitted to show the new Ford GT on the stand, but we are showing how stretchy and creative our designers are, along with an insight into the depth of design work that goes into creating any product’
This refreshing and alternative way of representing the design thinking and concepts was also shown in the beautiful Ford FAVILLA installation that featured in the centre of Milan and was a real highlight of the visit.
Back on the FORD stand, it was interesting to see the similarities in the designs themselves – although each piece was distinctly different, there was a common ‘thread’ that tied them all together. This could be described as the ‘design language’, but each piece had clearly been developed from the same philosophy. Clean, balanced, functional, highly detailed and in some cases, extremely specialist.
This is why the collection, which ranged from the guitar to a minimal circular LED clock (my personal favourite piece), a Foosball table to a chair, a racing yacht to a racing helmet were so successful…
In the question session, I asked the Ford Design team about whether any surprises were discovered within the submitted designs:
‘even though we will not be actually making these products in real life, we have discovered more about the passions of our designers and the breadth of their creativity, which will certainly feed into how Ford designers, design in the future’ explained Moray Callum.
And this is key. Design without passion is just not right. Something does not quite fit – and we are all becoming more and more sensitive to those types of design that are a little bit ‘designing for designs sake’. But, design with passion and real creativity? That is always clear – and there were great examples of how passionate designers think on the Ford stand this year.’
(all photos by Claire Potter – video and GT interior courtesy of Ford)