Every year, the most famous endurance race in the world occurs two hundred kilometers southwest of Paris. It upholds the traditions of sportsmanship and the quest for performance: Le Mans 24 Hours. At its 90th anniversary last year, OAK Racing paid tribute to the long history of the event that partly runs on public roads being closed during the race. The renowned Le Mans-based team, specializing in sports prototypes, gave the green light for the creation of an “Art Car” competing in the race and at the same time promoting safety on the race track as well as on public roads.
Art uniting Ambition
Dassault Systèmes supported OAK Racing by putting its technology and knowledge at the service of design, research, education, culture, and artistic creation, becoming an ambitious player in the cultural sector. All innovation should challenge convictions, ask questions about the past and the future, and step aside from well-trodden paths: that’s why DS partners with artists, for whom questioning and innovation is a driving force.
It was therefore a meeting of minds when Jacques Nicolet, owner of the OAK Racing team approached Dassault Systèmes’ Design Studio for a fascinating project, joining forces with an artist passionate about motor sport, endurance, and especially the Le Mans 24 Hours. This trifold collaboration used design as a bridge between art and performance.
Fernando Costa created an art masterpiece, combining the spirit of Le Mans 24 hours race and the focus on road safety. He used his favorite material, recuperated road signs, which he assembled and welded in order to transform a race car into an artistic sculpture.
Costa inserted 1,000 rivets into the carbon chassis of the OAK Racing team’s LM P2 car. Prior to becoming the basis of this art car, this chassis ran Le Mans 24 Hours four times and finished in the top three, in 2008 and 2010. So, one could say that since its inception, this artistic object has been inspired by the history of Le Mans 24 Hours.
Image courtesy of DPPI
The Art Car & The 3DEXPERIENCE
Thanks to the Dassault Systèmes Design Studio, a design team incorporating design thinkers, user experience designers, 3D designers, graphic artists and engineers, the work of art was transferred to the livery of the racing LM P2. After having shot precise pictures of all the road signs composing the Art Car, the team created a flat pattern of the body. Keeping the integrity of the artist’s expression while turning it into a completely flat representation was a real challenge that required both artistic and technical expertise. This difficulty was increased by the Art Car’s curves, which added complex effects according to the perspectives and light situations. Finally, the creation of this virtual livery enabled them to produce an adhesive film with the appropriate reproduction of the sculpture to cover the LM P2’s bodywork. Hexis, a manufacturer of self-adhesive vinyl films and digital printing media for large format inkjet printing, accomplished this part of the contribution.
At the Festival Automobile International 2014, both the real Art Car and its virtual mock-up were displayed together for the first time!
A new era for car design has come
Performing design work on the OAK Racing Art Car project, Dassault Systèmes really wanted to become involved in an approach creating a relationship between Art and Technology. While respecting Costa’s original creation and the sculptural aesthetic, they supplied expertise and creativeness by producing the robe of the Art Car in 3D Mapping, which involved putting material and colors of the original work on the complex surfaces of the racing prototype. This work required a keen sense of observation as well as understanding of the volumes aligned, to sure judgment of the graphic composition and mastery of the numeric tools.
Image courtesy of DPPI
As Anne Asensio, Vice President Design Experience of Dassault Systèmes, puts it: “It’s the beginning of the understanding that there’s something beyond styling and design and the collaboration between design, engineering and technology. It’s about a large ecosystem of people providing all the systems together, and Dassault Systèmes is right there.
We can enable any of those stakeholders to create industry-wide solutions. We work for the car industry to give them the best tools to get beyond beautiful cars, to cars that are smart and deliver beautiful benefits for citizens, whether they are living in the city or in the middle of nowhere.
That’s what we call the 3DEXPERIENCE. It spreads from the creative world, with the imagination to see what’s happening, to engineering, simulation and all the way to marketing and sales, and answering how to sell and connect the car to the user.”
The perspectives for the new designers’ generation
Anne Asensio added: “Future generations will get their cars directly through the internet, not the showroom, and the way they will use their car will include things like near-field technology to change their experience.
We want new designers to have this kind of mindset. The younger generation doesn’t have to worry too much; they just need to sell their talents as designers, as they have that digital background. Solutions designed by engineers are going away, to be replaced by a more application and user-friendly design. We have a new type of car designer that is not focused on delivering beautiful skin, they are after experiences and are eager to participate with the car industry.”
Whatever generation you belong to: how would you perceive this mindset change? How do you interpret Anne’s vision about focusing on the user experience as your design priority?