one of which is being budget conscious. Just three years ago, it was not untypical for a major OEM to have designers being supported by clay modellers, a dozen design managers, and a mass of digital modellers. Of course, no one designer can do everything, but broadening that designer's skill base, allows him/ her to do more with less. Imagine a highly creative designer who can find new forms and graphics while respecting all engineering constraints, and can also do most of the digital modelling, support in rough clay modelling, understand the DNA of the company, and professionally hit all the timing gateways. Sound like a dream? It is actually becoming more of a requirement. Car manufacturers' design studios have always developed processes and organizational structures that improve efficiency, but the pressure on them to deliver even higher quality is still increasing. Within this context, there is a growing argument for OEMs to work with either multi talented designers, or independent studios. If a car company can find these ' super designers', they should hire them! However, as we have seen recently, many of these super designers are realizing their potential and establishing themselves as independents. Examples include the former bosses of BMW, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ford, and MINI. In contrast to a safe OEM job, where deadlines seem to slip and budgets are mystical, the independents learn quickly that on the outside, both time and money fly by rapidly. Independent designers have to then be even more efficient and clever, because once the client's budget runs out, the buck stops with the independent's personal bank account. " Cars are big animals that need to be seen and physically touched"
How to make independence work Independent styling houses pre-date in- house design studios, having stemmed from the coach building trade that in turn pre- dated the car industry. Today the large established independent designers struggle with a high cost base, a need to use capacity and are often most profitable in the engineering and production services they offer. But smaller independent design studios are increasingly succeeding in offering what OEM design groups need and what the established independents can't provide: project- based design teams where individuals are brought in for their specific capabilities, combined with low overheads; high quality design at relatively low cost. This is where the ' super independent' company comes in. Such a company runs on zero overheads and disposable support teams. It is best to rent, as you need both facilities and talents, which can be tailored to the specific requirements and locations of the client. All projects ebb and flow, so it doesn't make financial sense to have large studios and lots of staff if the projects don't demand it; bring in talent and procure services on a project- by- project basis. The MCE MC1 is a project that had a UK engineering firm as client, limited fixed budget and a small support staff. The design budget was tight and many sacrifices had to be made. Thus, only two super designers working mainly digitally did all of the design. This is where the balancing trade- off comes in - between digital modeling gateways and physical fabrication. Cars are big animals that need to be seen and physically touched. However, fabricating costs and should only be done when necessary. The super designers worked masterfully digitally to have instant communication with the engineers, and could analyse surfaces full size on