The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Center for Creative Studies Students' Concept Car To be at NAIAS

15 December 2000

Center 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
    "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.