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AutoDesign Prague 2013: Design from the Heart of Europe

Wed, 09 Oct 2013

Charismatic designers, inspirational speeches and beautiful cars in an informal and friendly atmosphere was the order of the day at the third edition of the international automotive design conference AutoDesign Prague, which once again highlighted the importance of car culture and tradition's strong roots within the Czech Republic.

In recent years, speakers have included prominent figures from the world of automotive design such as the Geely Group's Peter Horbury, Dassault Systèmes' Anne Asensio, Pininfarina's Fabio Filippini and design consultant Peter Stevens.

This year's conference was themed ‘Design from the Heart of Europe' and so featured many Czech and Slovakian speakers. The latter in particular are doing very well in the field of car design. The most famous, of course, is Jozef Kabaň, current head of design at Škoda, the man behind the 1000hp Bugatti Veyron and former Audi exterior design chief.

Another talented Slovak is Braňo Maukš, who worked on several current Ford models, but is mainly known for his current position within Pininfarina's studio as a Ferrari and Maserati specialist.

The third Slovak design star speaking at this year's AutoDesign Prague was Michal Kačmár. A current employee of Jaguar Land Rover, he previously spent time in the Škoda design center as well as Italdesign Giugiaro in Turin.

Kačmár and Kabaň's relationship didn't begin at Škoda Design, but at the University of Bratislava, a breeding ground of Slovakian designers. Moreover, Ford's Niko Vidakovic – who was also one of the guests of this year's AutoDesign Prague – is a regular visitor of the University of Bratislava and helps introduce young talents into the world of car design.

Among the most interesting speeches in the newly reconstructed premises of the Škoda Auto Museum in Mladá Boleslav was by Jozef Kabaň, who described his personal insight and approach to design and the designers who shaped his view of the world, such as Sergio Pininfarina, Giorgetto Giugiaro and Nuccio Bertone. In his speech he also paid tribute to Hartmutt Warkus, Walter de'Silva and Cyril Koreň, who all taught him at some stage in his life.

This time, however, Jozef Kabaň was the one passing on his experiences and quickly captured the audience with his charismatic speech. "One must always have a vision and only when you give others the opportunity to experience and take part in it, then the result can be successful," Kabaň told the attendees.

Kabaň explored the nature of design using examples of contrasts within products. Attendees were told how products can be perfectly seductive but not fully functional, and how another might at first glance look simple but offer full functionality. He used the metaphor of the frequent image changes of the extravagant pop singer Lady Gaga compared with Irish rockers U2.

Other presentations offered thought-provoking topics such as why today's concepts are no longer true ‘dream cars', while others were more technically focused, touching on subjects such as lighting trends, which was presented by Todd Morgan, VP for global product development at Varroc Lighting Systems.

Alongside the latest Škoda Rapid Spaceback – which had its Czech premiere at the conference – was the stylish Opel Adam, whose chief designer Niels Loeb spoke about trends in car personalization. Pininfarina's Braňo Maukš presented the story of the Sergio concept's development, which started as a tribute to the late Sergio Pininfarina. The Czech design scene was represented by design studio BT Design, who introduced its own creations alongside the newly opened giant center for concept development.

Radek Laube, chief editor of AutoDesign&Styling magazine and the event's organizer, said, "This year we've once again seen a number of positive reactions, and we're pleased that we've managed to welcome major designers and guests from around the world.

"I believe for many people it was an inspirational gathering, and I'm glad that thanks to the support of our partners it is possible to move each conference a step forward every year."

By CDN Team