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A day in the life

2 years ago

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Julian Thomson | Designer


31 December 2021

What do car designers actually do all day? I mean apart from itching in a black roll neck and posting photos of their new watch on Instagram. Here’s what a typical working day looks like…

The first thing about car designers is that they never stop looking at cars, so the commute to work is valuable time. We design cars for the most part indoors, so looking at our own creations or those of our competitors’ inevitably brings a myriad of questions for our Product Development fellows when we get in: how does BMW get away with so little tyre clearance? How can the Corsa afford that expensive bumper? Are the tail lamps on that Audi legal? And how come we can see so much of our muffler following the car?

If at all possible, I try to have a wander around the clay models early in the day before things get too busy. A full-size model can initially be designed in four or five weeks and, through its development phase and all its iterations, might live for 18 months. The designer has to force themselves to look at the car like it’s the first time they’ve seen it, constantly reassessing and thinking how it could be made better. So a quiet half hour circling a clay model up close or from a distance on a raised mezzanine is time well spent before the day gets going, and the ‘real’ work  begins.

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