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Car Design Thesis at University of Architecture: Mistakes to Avoid

Updated on December 16, 2016
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Luciano Bove is a car design manager working at Renault Design, born in Italy he studied at Art Center College of Design in California.

Excellent quality presentation sample!
Excellent quality presentation sample! | Source
early sketches before going to Coventry design school. Good quality sketches!
early sketches before going to Coventry design school. Good quality sketches! | Source

Dear friends,

I know that some of you are following me from Architecture universities in Italy and abroad. I am happy about it because I hope that my suggestions and tips can reach you, too!

Yesterday evening I received an email by an Italian student from Architecture (I will not mention the name or the city) writing to me asking to evaluate his thesis project.

So I downloaded his Pdf on my computer and opened the file, it was a project about Alfa Romeo brand with a project intended to rediscover the Italian design culture.

The first thing that shocked me a bit was the super long written essay , its content full of classic sentences about the Italian design taste, Italian design culture, Italian automobile design, some nice citations by expert designers, nice written and detailed description about the Alfa design he proposed.

Now I have been short in my story telling however 2 pages were dedicated to this written explanatory text.

After reading this I finally got to his drawings/illustrations. I have to say that the student did mention that the mechanical base of his proposal would have been one coming from a Japanese automobile company. OK!

When I saw the first side view drawing I saw that his design looked like the original Japanese car with the only difference as a frontal Alfa Romeo “scudetto” and the typical mustache side air intakes on the front bumper.

The side section was the same as the Japanese car copying with Photoshop the same side reflections from the photo used as reference; the rear design was very mediocre and obvious. To me a no design statement!

The last page was about a technical package in all 4 views with major dimensions.

In conclusion to me it looked more like one of those projects we do in car design school at a second year, a project that could last 2 months to learn to draw cars and quickly illustrate for one of our first presentations. A learning test for students, not a thesis project from Architecture.

At least this is the impression I have got with what I got!

Mistakes I detected that you should not make!

When I check a thesis project I look for its structure, its content value, its creative/design execution.

In other words:

How did you think about it?

How did you develop it?

What kind of interpretation?

Now let’s analyze together those 3 steps.

How did you think about it?

This is referring to the very beginning of our thesis project, we have to study a bit in which social context we decide to operate and in which scenario we will integrate our project (what year? Why? Possible clients? What social Needs? Technologies? Eventually what kind of costs? Benchmarking…)

How did you develop it?

This step is about how you do your project, it is your development choice, your content starts to come alive, we translate what we think this project should be and do! It is your story!

What kind of interpretation?

Here we have your creativity, talent, design, taste, colors, materials, here you express yourself your being designer…it is your design!


It is clear to you ( I hope ) that following this working structure you can prepare the base for a solid project that needs, a project rich in its content and pre studies and with a design interpretation that fits your scenario in a designed way without being banal.

I know that because you are a student from an Architecture University you will not have super-hot sketches and illustrations, however make sure that your illustration is really made for your design and not a consequence of what you are looking at as source of inspiration! Your teachers should check this aspect.

It is important for me that all students from Architecture whom feel to make a car design thesis project make a big huge effort to be as much as possible like their colleagues from car design schools. This because automobile design studios will not be happy with a thesis project that does not meet certain school standards. I am not referring to the content but the type of expected presentation; it is about your credibility and competition against all sorts of students coming from car design schools.

Thank you!

Another example of good simple sketches combination.
Another example of good simple sketches combination. | Source


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