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Cliff Design – A Creative Boost for Established Brands!
CliffDesign

Cliff Design is a Swedish based company owned and managed by the company employees. The aim is that the unusual and unique company structure will ensure that design permeates the business DNA. The company has a 20 year history in design and has worked for a range of clients including, Volvo Car Corporation, BMW, Volvo Trucks, and Mercedes Benz. As a company Cliff believes in the value of incorporating design requirements as early in the development process as possible. DesignerTechniques has taken the time to speak to their Vice President, Fredrik Åsell, to find out a little more about the company. We of course also wanted to find out his thoughts on what makes a successful automotive designer!

Hi Fredrik, first tell us, what led you to a career in design?

Well, after 9th grade I went to art school, and whilst there one of my teachers mentioned that Industrial design might suit me. After my military service I applied to The National college of art craft and design in Stockholm, and got in. After that I went to work for Koenigsegg for some 3 years and then Formtech, which later evolved to Cliffdesign.

Has design been the career you imagined it would be when first starting out?

I honestly thought there would be more glamour and fireworks, but then I realized it still is the nicest career there is in my opinion. One of my first jobs though was to design the underside of a parcel shelf…

Tell us a little about your vision for Cliff design.

Cliff Design is dedicated to the future of transportation, offering creative boost to established brands. We believe in early engagement, boosting the product development process with high visual impact, communicating the essence of the product and its context. Our passionate team of designers have experience from several international clients, creating a strong platform for successful designs. A unified mindset and clear process help us support any given design phase with energy, guiding the design intention all the way to the final product. Cliff Design can involve wider competences such as advanced concept modelling/prototypes, interaction and product design.


What benefits can bringing design into the development process at a very early stage bring?

Let's say we're going to do a car and the engineers have come up with this brilliant solution for an air duct between the engine and the bonnet. It's super tuned and works perfect. The tools for the duct have already been ordered (probably for the price of a small country). The problem is it's 2cm too high for the designers to make the bonnet sleek and nice. It would have functioned just as nice if it's been 2cm shorter but the engineers made it that way because it was the easiest and cheapest. If we had been involved from start we would have had a chance to ask if it could have worked in our preferred position. As it is now, we might have to make a design solution that's silly or try to change the tools at a cost both in time and money.

As you see design as an important aspect in creating an outstanding product, can you give an example of a vehicle which you see as particularly successful in this regard?

I like the Ford GT 40´s both the new but particularly the old one, due to its rawness and lack of BS. The BMW S 1000 RR is also a nice bike. A lot of shapes but with a really nice balance.

Given the range of work shown on your website, Cliff obviously employs designers with diverse interests and backgrounds. Is this range of design interests something you feel is important?

Absolutely. We tend to learn and develop from each other to an enormous extent.

So, when employing new designers, what is a key skill you look for in a portfolio?

First of all we look at the overall impression and if there's an individual manner. Sometimes you could almost pinpoint the school the applicant has attended and that's not so interesting. If there's a truckload of shiny sketches but no interesting ideas behind them that's kind of boring. We also like our employees to master Alias due to our customers demands. Nice ideas and personal sketching techniques, I would sum it up as.

What other advice would you have for those hoping for a career in automotive design?

Believe in your ability, learn from others and practice, practice, practice…

Finally, what for you has been the most rewarding aspect of your design career?

Been able to make a living doing something I would do anyway, and of course the feeling you get when you see something you worked on rolling towards you in the street!

To find out more about Cliffdesign, and see more examples of their work then be sure to visit their website,

www.cliffdesign.com


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page last updated; 2014-06-15
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