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Umea University students complete Saab collaboration project

Wed, 03 Nov 2010

A selection of first-year students from Sweden's Umea University have completed a 10-week collaborative design project with Saab. Tasked with exploring new directions for the brand, students were encouraged to investigate the interplay of brand and identity. Each of them was assigned a non-automotive brand to reflect on parallels that could be established between that brand and Saab, whilst also capturing the essence of the Swedish carmaker through their project's concept, its proportions, surface language, details, graphics, functionality and material choices.

Eric Leong
Leong identified that home coffee machine manufacturer, Nespresso, allows its customers to experience a sophisticated product in the comfort of their own home via an innovative design solution. The idea of offering a wide range of 'flavors' is directly influenced the customizable DRG, wheel rim and upholstery panel designs. A pull-out trunk and flexible loading deck add the sort of innovative solutions he was keen to transfer between the brands. Meanwhile, in-keeping with Saab's oft-cited aerospace heritage, modern fighter jet design cues are mixed with the classic Saab wraparound windscreen and 'hockey stick' C-pillar. A solar 'fin' covers the rear deck when not in use, helping to power the owner's house when the car is parked.

Kosin Voravattayagon
While its exterior may be accused of failing to capture the essence of Saab, the interior of Voravattayagon's project more than compensates. Indeed, it was awarded the 'Student Design of the Year' and 'Best Production Interior' at this year's edition of the Interior Motives Design Awards in Paris. The concept is inspired by Gillette's material use as well as its design purity – both traditional Saab values. Meanwhile, the center console has been pushed to the outer edge of the seat frames, optimizing the safety credentials Saab is famous for. Voravattayagon designed his project specifically for the Chinese market.

Qatar Airways
Daniel Gunnarsson
Given Qatar Airways as his non-automotive brand, Gunnarsson identified the company's commitment to provide travelers with five-star levels of service. As such, the concept has been designed from the inside out to provide occupants with the finest possible experience with a B-segment platform. A calming, simplistic IP reflects the understated elegance offered by both brands, while advanced infographics are displayed both across the IP and in a sophisticated HUD. The seating design is of particular note: super-thin so as to be stackable should more cargo space be needed and with a swiveling cushion which doubles as a child seat.

Travis Vaninetti
High visibility and common exclusivity are the key attributes of Swedish fashion retailer H&M, according to Vaninetti's research. The dramatically opening canopy – reminiscent of fighter jets and Saab's own Aero X concept – grabbing onlookers' attention and bringing "refreshing exclusivity" to all four passengers. Like H&M, the concept is designed to appeal to both individuals and families alike. The Kamm tail not only plays on Saab's aerodynamic heritage, but also its reputation for practicality. While its DRG is quite clearly derived from Saab's current design language, the more powerful rear – its flared fenders in particular – visually identify it as being four-wheel drive.

Yong-Fei Han
Many parallels can be drawn between Apple and Saab. Both are focused on offering reliable, simple, yet highly functional products. Meanwhile, the American computer giant's emphasis on design has enabled it to move not only into a more premium market space, but also a more profitable one. Inspired by Apple's simplifying technology applications and legitimized by Saab's own aerospace technology, Han has employed advanced by-wire technology to rethink and declutter the driving environment. A fully reconfigurable environment enables the driver to sit where he likes – left, right or center. Other aircraft references include a redesigned 'wing' grille graphic and an afterburner wheel design that reconfigures to cool the brakes. In side profile, the concept employs the traditional Saab proportions and graphics, while the unusual concave rear screen – nestling between a pair of buttresses – is a neat reference to the 1970s 99 model.

Jan Christian Osnes
Games console-manufacturer Nintendo inspired Jan Christian to create a social and fun city car that's also able to venture into the wilderness to afford its occupants the sense of adventure offered by video gaming. The use of customizable graphics in the concept's DRG and rear hatch screens reflects the online avatars offered by Nintendo. White body panels with fluorescent green highlights add to the product design feel. Its DLO and stylized three-spoke wheels are resolutely Saab.

Youngjun Byun
Although assigned Swedish mobile telephone manufacturer Doro as his reference brand, Byun cites the sunny streets of California as inspiration for his two-seat commuter vehicle. "[My design]  can successfully work as an introduction for the brand", says Byun. "An entry model Saab offers great potential and creates opportunities for the company. This project looked at the American market and young customers." A full-width IP display and touch-sensitive controls reference Doro's technologies.

By Owen Ready