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TONY CATIGNANI

As program leader of transport design at UmeŚ Institute of Design, one of the worlds leading automotive design schools, Tony has good idea of what it takes to succeed in design.  In this short interview, Tony gives advice on how to prepare a folio for an interview, as well as thoughts on his favourite piece of automotive design ever.

What first attracted you to a career in design?

I had been educated in graphic design and was working in small design studios in the London area I felt the needed to work in 3D and not just 2D. I applied to various car companies for a job. The Ford Motor company sponsored me in attending the RCA in London. This was the start of my design journey.

What qualities do you see as being essential to becoming a successful designer?

You must have imagination and the ability to communicate ideas visually. Add to this determination and belief in what you do. Finally, you must be persuasive verbally in presenting you work.

What in your opinion is the most successful piece of auto design ever?

For me there is no question Ö The Mclaren F1. It looks fantastic from all angles and is beautifully engineered. Itís a balance of form and function. Above all a great package and the ultimate shopping car!

To what extent do you think a strong engineering background is useful to a designer?

This will depend on what company you work with. Of course, the more you know the better, especially in design meetings when confronting engineering people.

What qualifications are required for a career in automotive design?

At UmeŚ Design Institute you take a 2 year course in transportation design. At the end of which you should graduate with a Masters. To be considered for this course you must have a BA in design or equivalent. See the web site for details.

As the Programme Leader of Transport Design a UmeŚ what skills are you really trying to promote in the graduates?

I want students to push the boundaries of design. This might be somewhat provocative, but thatís how we find new and exciting ideas. I donít want to see cars / vehicles that look like those we see on the roads today. Companies already have designers working on the next 5 to 10 years, so there is no point in students working in this time frame.  This 2 year course is an opportunity for the student to really explore his or her ideas fully.
They must develop the skills and tools to visualise their concepts.  I want students to think about transport in the future and the society that might exist globally. Above all they have to put the human being at the centre of all their studies.

When you receive applications to the course, what is it that really makes a student stand out?

The presentation and order of the portfolio is something I look at. A variety of design ideas is important. Perhaps not all the work is about cars. It could be other industrial design projects. The portfolio should be easy to understand. The design concepts and the message they convey should be very clear and concise. It should be like reading a book.

What advice can you give to those looking to prepare their folios for UmeŚ?

Make clear your design concepts by having an introduction page describing the background to each project. Have the small thinking sketches at the beginning showing your design process up to the final design.

What role do you see traditional design tools (hand sketching, clay etc.) playing the future of design given the widespread use of newer tools such as 3D CAD?

If companies want quality products they need to verify designs in the process. This means integrating the digital methods with the traditional way of working. This will give the best results.
Depending on the design project content, you could start with sketches and make some quick loops into Alias and back again. The same goes for clay work. Mill out a clay model, make some adjustments by hand and take it back into Alias. Then mill again. Itís all about verification and refinement. Itís not impossible to skip clay modelling and go to hard models, but itís risky and could be expensive in the long term.

I have heard that the automotive design industry is very competitive. Will a transport design degree be useful in looking for a design job in other fields?

A MA in transport design means you have attained a certain level. Yes, it is very competitive. Skills and abilities developed in transport design courses will help students gain jobs in other fields. It is important that you donít become blinkered and think only of being a car designer. You need to be more versatile these days.

Finally, what is the most rewarding thing about working with and teaching design?

Mmmm .. Well, it is probably seeing the growth and development of students. Being surprised by some innovative thinking. Being inspired also. Seeing someone who you thought was not going to make the grade, change into a strong creative person. Creativity is continuous. Itís just dormant sometimes.


For more information about the courses available at UmeŚ you can visit, www.dh.umu.se

All images courtesy of UmeŚ Institute of Design
page last updated; 2014-06-15
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