by Zohra KhanSep 10, 2020
Think of a conversation between two people for whom vrooming through rough roads and scaling stormy skies is a way of life. One of them is counted among world’s most influential car designers responsible for crafting the iconic Ferrari FXX and McLaren P1 hypercar, and the other is an aviator, entrepreneur and traveller for whom bumpy roads are only sights of satisfaction.
In the sixth episode of Cross Border Conversations, we witness two phenomenal adventurers in dialogue: London-based automobile designer Frank Stephenson and actor, automobile and technology enthusiast, Gul Panag from India. Led by STIR Founder and Editor-in-Chief Amit Gupta, the exchange was joined by renowned auto industry consultant Avik Chattopadhyay as a special guest.
In the 50-minute conversation, Stephenson and Panag discuss the nuances of electric mobility, the associated experiences when one feels in sync with the machine, and the probable futures of this type of transportation.
The holy grail of design is to introduce more information and more technology in the simplest way possible. – Frank Stephenson
Stephenson, who has mastered the art of automotive design for the past three decades, with revolutionary works at Maserati, Ferrari, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Mini, elaborates his recent pursuits in air travel. He gives a peek into the design features of one of his most anticipated projects - The Lilium Jet, which is the world’s first completely electric, vertical take off and landing aircraft.
Panag, who is a licensed pilot and also a trained racer, who having driven a M4Electro at the Circuit de Calafat in Catalonia, Spain (2017), became the first Indian woman to spin a Formula E racing car, deliberates on the paradigm shift that technology and design innovation are rendering to the aviation and automobile industry and how they are likely to shape the experience of users in the years to come.
Both Stephenson and Panag envision the future of mobility as a world of science fiction, empowered by high performance, self-driving vehicles.
From a designer’s standpoint, Stephenson says that digitalisation is taking away the romance that goes in the creative process in conceiving these machines. "Design is what sells," he warns, and adds that "if you start creating fast design, you are going to lose refinement that only a human eye can value".
’How you feel with the machine: that feeling to me is really where everything comes together. – Gul Panag
Panag, as someone who likes to become 'one with the machine' when she hits the road or flies free, believes that no matter how finer the product, it is always accepted with much resistance. She describes the fundamental purpose of design as something that powers through these opposing forces only to result in a future that in the end makes life easier for everyone.
Other points that featured in the conversation include the role of provenance in designing products, values of simplicity in the design process and fitness in achieving perfection both on and off road.
Stephenson and Panag, who wear many electric and eclectic hats, concluded with how the journey never gets boring for those who manage to keep their child-like curiosity alive and never stop dreaming.
All this and a lot more in the video above!
Cross Border Conversations
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji and Amit Gupta, STIR X LOCO Design present candid video conversations among creative professionals across geographical borders and creative disciplines of architecture, design, art and beyond.
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