A brief update today, in light of the fantastic announcement that automotive design legend Frank Stephenson has agreed to support our design competition as a guest judge, helping to determine a body design for the production Darkside. What a coup!
Frank’s involvement represents a massive step forwards for the venture, and will bring about a sense of authority and credibility to the design competition which most can only dream of. With a portfolio including the Mini, the Maserati MC12, the Ferrari F430 and the McLaren P1 (to name but a few), Frank’s work in the automotive sector places him as one of the most influential and inspirational designers of our time, and I simply can't wait to see what he makes of the entries to the competition!
Indeed, if you’re not already familiar with his work, you should certainly familiarise yourself with the Frank Stephenson YouTube channel; packed with awesome content exploring previous projects and critiques of current & former vehicle designs… well worth subscribing to.
Whilst we're on the subject, one of the observations that I wanted to specifically address is around the purpose of the competition, and how it aims to provide a platform for aspiring designs from all backgrounds to showcase their work. The objective is to offer up an opportunity to anyone interested in innovative engineering or great design, but whom would ordinarily never have had the chance to explore their creative abilities in such a novel application, nor have their work appraised by one of the worlds leading authorities on automotive design.
Indeed, my intention is to not only identify a talented designer, but to make the world aware of their skills and provide them with a platform upon which they can gain further exposure and promotion, working collaboratively to develop their vision into reality, and to reward their efforts through actively promoting their work.
It is my hope that the competition will excite stylists and designers from a wide range of backgrounds, exclusive to their education or location or age or experience… what’s important to me is that their passion and creativity shines bright!
Incidentally, I’ve already had several seasoned automotive design graduates comment that the reverse trike architecture is both a blessing and a curse, from a styling perspective. Whilst it affords fantastic opportunities in exploitation of aerodynamics and vehicle proportioning (in ways that four-wheeled vehicles simply cannot entertain), it’s also pushing entrants out of their comfort zone; being far removed from any conventional vehicle design exercise... Fortune favours the brave!
Elsewhere, discussions continue at a pace with the focal point continuing to be the delivery of the first concept demonstrator vehicle. Of course, the importance of the early builds cannot be overstated as it allows us to learn mission-critical lessons in terms of how the vehicle actually handles & performs, as well as building up a robust supply chain and understanding what’s required to assemble vehicles which will consistently meet our quality targets.
Of course, as soon as the first prototypes are on their wheels it also allows us to start building some serious inertia in terms of marketing, brand awareness and demand generation. It’s all well and good spinning CAD and popping out sexy renders, but there’s no substitute for seeing the grin on the face of the driver who first experiences a Darkside RR on a quiet country road!
So, what’s next? There’s certainly no shortage of work to be done… In the next few weeks we have discussions lined up with prospective bodywork suppliers, harness manufacturers, fabricators and investors, plus of course the deadline for the design competition. I’ll be updating the blog periodically as/when things progress, but for what it’s worth do drop me a note with any requests for content or topics that merit further exploration. It’s always great to hear from like-minded enthusiasts and I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback that the venture has received so far… here’s to the next steps!