Center for Creative Studies Students' Concept Car To be at NAIAS
15 December 2000Center for Creative Studies Students' Concept Car To be Featured at North American International Auto Show
DETROIT, Dec. 15 With just weeks to go before the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, fourteen college students are gathered about a partially stripped 2001 Ford Focus wagon making some hard decisions. They have been given a challenge: to transform this production vehicle into a unique concept car for one of the auto industry's most important exhibitions. It's an unusual assignment for an unusual group of students. Detroit's Center for Creative Studies-College of Art and Design (CCS) is one the few institutions in the nation offering a comprehensive course in automotive color and trim. And this group will present the only student- designed vehicle at the Detroit auto show. They have come from around the corner and across the globe to participate in a prestigious challenge. "The CCS color-and-trim class is a real-life introduction to the process of automotive design," says instructor Mollie Fletcher. "These students contribute as individuals, but they also learn to leave their egos behind. They work as a team to take a product from concept to the auto show floor in just about three months." The concept car project is made possible by sponsors including ASC Incorporated, Ford Motor Company, Johnson Controls, Inc., and PPG Industries, Inc. In addition to in-kind support, the sponsors provide professional guidance for every phase of the color-and-trim process. At the outset, the CCS students developed a story to inspire their creativity. They envisioned a young professional just starting out and looking for a car that will present an image of reliability and creative flair. The vehicle would be not only a "first real car," but could remain a part of the individual's life as he or she started a family. In recognition of the phases of life it would serve, the class named the car the "Faze." With the concept in place, the students addressed broad issues of color and styling. Respecting the professional image they avoided flashy tones, opting for colors that reflect the elements of nature. For the exterior, an earthen copper brown with pearl blue highlights was chosen. For the interior they selected shades of blue, gray and brown to be complemented by copper and aluminum-toned accents. Field trips took the students into design studios and customizing facilities where they examined paint samples, compared fabric swatches and got a behind-the-scenes view. This sort of interaction between sponsors and students might seem extraordinary, but it's routine for Center for Creative Studies. "Industry professionals know that they are making an investment by working with our students," Fletcher said. "In fact, many of the color-and-trim class mentors are CCS graduates themselves." Back in the CCS classroom, the students experimented with upholstery stitching and other decorative touches. They sketched, brainstormed, offered suggestions and voted on every step along the way. They also spent hours doing just what they are doing now ... standing beside the vehicle, mentally and verbally breaking it apart while visualizing the finished product. After weeks of debate and decisions about broad concepts, the time has come to define the details. Which parts will have a high-gloss finish? Will the exterior graphics be done in paint or adhesive film? And where should they place the all-important logo that identifies the "Faze?" The team votes on each item. Now the students must do what the professionals do: entrust their creation to workers who will apply the paint and execute their trim directions. With that the final phase begins as fourteen future professionals look forward to seeing their vehicle for the first time beneath the dazzling lights of the auto show.