Artem Smirnov: Freelance Designer on the Changing World of Car Design

People think that it’s hard to be innovative in car design and that only minor tweaks can be made. But this isn’t true — there is real potential for changes, and new technologies such as WayRay’s True AR® system might reinvigorate the world of design.

Regarding the future of car design, we are here to continue our conversations with the minds who took the time to answer our design brief and share their thoughts on the future of AR and automotive design. We received entries from designers around the world who came from a variety of backgrounds and educations, all of whom shared a commitment to change the world of automotive design. Moreover, just like WayRay, they are taking an active part in making the future happen in their own way.

Previously, we spoke to Advait Taware and Danilo Makio Saito, two designers with a creative vision for the future. In this interview, we spoke to Artem Smirnov, a freelance designer from Belarus who has a rather peculiar design career.

Artem took an interesting route in his career. Originally, Artem studied to become an industrial designer at Vitebsk Technological University in Belarus. After graduation, he ended up in the design studio of a company working on military equipment and designing trucks with low-pressure wheels to navigate difficult terrain.

After that, he was invited to work at the Yo-auto design studio. This was where he gained his first experience working with electric transport and worked on both the exterior and the interior of electric vehicles. So, it’s safe to say he is someone who can consider all aspects of the design process.

However, he did not stay there. He explains what motivated him to become a freelancer then:

“I remember one particular moment: I looked through the projects that I’d worked on at the two studios, and I realized that in six years of work, I only have one to two objects that are ready to show. That’s when I decided to embark on an open-ended voyage and work on projects that I myself was interested in creating. And I have been working as a freelancer for 11 years now. It’s difficult to count the number of ventures and customers around the world with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. This variety of objects and tasks ensures that my work never settles down into a routine.”

WayRay approached Artem with, in his words, “an unusual and promising task.”

Regarding the task, he had this to say:

“If you equip a car platform with autopilot and AR technology, this will allow the user to experience new functionality in the car. The challenge was to rethink the car with new functionality and how this could affect the layout and appearance. Also, the goal was to create an exterior that evokes the new technologies held within the car to all who see it.”

WayRay’s technology affected his design choices, as it is not an everyday automotive design process when you have to factor in AR and holography.

Applying these technologies in the car results in an environment where the end-user can manage and interact with the virtual image. Artem had to take this into consideration when developing the design.

There are challenges, however, while working with such innovative technologies, as a strong sense of imagination is required:

Artem recognizes the limitations in contemporary car design and understands how new technologies, such as AR, can change how we perceive and experience transport:

“The car, as a design object, is very conservative. The layout, shape, and way of driving have not changed for a long time. The role of a car designer is now very limited, and car designers have simply been playing with surfaces and lines for a long time, leading the auto industry to a situation where it is very difficult to distinguish between the make of different cars in city traffic.

It is becoming more common that, to move away from template solutions, companies invite specialists from related but different fields (industrial designers, UI, fashion, the gaming industry, to name a few). AR technology and driverless cars can significantly revolutionize the car and make it safer on the road.”

We are incredibly grateful for Artem’s time. He and the other designers share the belief that the future of automotive design will soon change with technological innovations and that inspiration and ideas can be taken from a range of sources. We are also excited to see what the future will bring and hope to make radical changes. We hope you have enjoyed this and other interviews so far. In the next interview, we’ll hear from Vladimir Chepushtanov, Russian-born designer based in Paris, France, to understand his thoughts on the future of design and AR.

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