Report from Ferrari’s Design Contest 2011

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Earlier in the week I was the envy of most of my friends and family as I jetted off to the home of Ferrari in Maranello, Italy, for the awards ceremony of the Ferrari World Design Contest 2011.

The competition, launched in collaboration with Ferrari’s technology partner Autodesk, challenged transportation students from 50 international schools and universities to create the Ferrari hypercar of the future. As a spokesperson for Ferrari told me at the ceremony: “Ferraris are not cars, they are dreams. We asked the students to design dreams of the future.”

It’s not surprising that over 200 projects were submitted when the prize up for grabs for the students in first and second place would be an internship at Ferrari. In the first round of judging Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari senior vice president of design, and Andrea Militello, Ferrari exterior designer, together with the rest of the jury whittled the projects down to just seven schools. These schools could then submit three concepts each, which would include 3D models created in Autodesk Alias and 1:4 scale physical models.

The seven schools were Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) – Turin, IED – Barcelona, IAAD – Turin, College for Creative Studies – Detroit, DSK International Design School – Pune, Jiangnan University – China, and the Royal College of Art (RCA) – London. Being an adopted Brit I was rooting for the RCA to win but interestingly, whilst chatting to the students after the awards ceremony, I found out that only four of the 24 students on the first year automotive course are actually British. It just shows how international education is these days.

Anyway, back to the awards. On Tuesday 19th July 2011 over 160 members of the press descended on Ferrari HQ for the ceremony. It was no surprise really that a Ferrari hosted event could attract so many journalists from all over the world. It is after all an iconic brand. With a red carpet laid out as you entered the hall together with film crew and sophisticated camera equipment I thought I was at a film premiere as opposed to an awards ceremony for a student design competition.

First up on stage was Flavio Manzoni who was the real instigator of the contest and set the wheels in motion a year and a half ago. He described it as a challenging and fascinating project. “We gave the students a very precise brief asking them to imagine and design a hypercar for the third millennium. It had to be hyper light, hyper fast, hyper technological and hyper ecological,” he said.

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“The brief meant a complete sea change and this was a huge challenge. The car not only had to be very fast and include new technology but also had to be in line with our brand.”

It was then time to put the students out of their misery and announce the runners up and the winner. Third prize went to the Cavallo Bianco concept (below) designed by students at the RCA. This winter hypecar was applauded for its admirable approach to new ideas and innovative chassis design.

The second prize went to the Xezri concept (below) designed by students at IED – Turin. The judges liked the purity and elegance of the design. The wing of the vehicle has been positioned horizontally on the roof so as to make it as aerodynamic as possible. Used as a spoiler, this wing raises when 200km/h is exceeded.

First prize went to Eternita (below) designed by students at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea. The judges felt that this concept provided the best interpretation of the design brief and the most innovative use of future technology. Features include light-layered carbon surfaces, a physical flywheel energy storage system, a superconductive motor and a hydrogen generator.

Two further awards were also presented. The Autodesk Design Award went to Hongik University for their innovative use of Alias design software. The ‘Most Unexpected Technological Solution’ award was presented to Jiangnan University. Their hypercar concept features adjustable wheels that narrow and widen.

Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, Paolo Pininfarina, chairmain of the Pininfarina Group, and Flavio Manzoni awarded the prizes to the winners. F1 driver Fernando Alonso also made an appearance posing for photos with the winning teams.

Ferrari’s chairman then closed off the ceremony. He spoke of how Ferrari likes to get involved in initiatives such as this in order to keep its windows open to the world. “I saw first hand the many genuinely innovative ideas that these talented youngsters sent us and could feel the enormous passion and commitment that had gone into them. I am certain that some of these suggestions will come to light in the Ferraris of the future.”

So, after many camera flashes, endless video footage, countless voice recordings, blogs frantically typed and tweets sent into cyberspace, the awards drew to a close.

I managed to chat to both Flavio Manzoni and Andrea Militello about the awards as well as Ferrai’s design process and future challenges so watch out for an article in DEVELOP3D soon. But as a sneak peak in the meantime, below are some photos I took during our factory tour. It was really quite incredible going round the facility as it’s really one of the only manufacturers I have been to where everything is done on-site. The full production cycle of both Ferrari’s road and F1 cars happens in one place from concept all the way through to production. Not to mention an onsite wind tunnel and 3km race track.


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