Well, we know the nature of cars and mobility is changing.
One of the issues is everyone who has a definition for mobility has a different definition than just about anybody else.
But even on top of that complication, along comes the Covid 19 pandemic.
And just like everything else in the world, it's having impacts on mobility.
Now what I've got two guests are gonna have some very good ideas about how and why we've got a very complicated mobility picture, how to design for it and how COVID maybe made it different, or even a little more complex.
Join Joining us is Kimberly Martini who's from the color materials and finishes design education team at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Southern California.
She's also co owner of design spectrum, an architecture and design firm.
And joining us also is Dave Merrick who's Executive Creative Director at accurate where he's been for 30 some odd years and he's also on the faculty of Art Center College of Design.
So we've got the two right minds here.
Guys, let's start off with sorta the headline version of this COVID-19 affecting mobility and transportation design.
A lot of folks will look at that and say, Why did those two intersect?
Let me start with you, Kimberly, how does COVID relate at all to the design of mobility cars and transport?.
People are very concerned about where they are or where they're going We definitely can see that in the airline industry with the lower numbers of sales tickets.
And when we talk about automotive, we know that it is definitely a comfortable place for most people because they own their cars.
Dave, you've been in the car biz a long time.
This has got to be the first time that this sort of factor Has become a factor in car design, isn't it?
Yeah, it's the first time I can imgine anything like this.
What I forsee is that we literally were moving towards more, you know, you have the atonomous, you have the kind of shared ride, you have all of these Mobility things scooters all that this has kinda taken let's take a step back and look at it because of what you said.
You need the sanctuary if I don't wanna touch anything.
I don't want anybody touching my stuff.
I don't wanna be near somebody else it was in the car that I shared it with.
So how does that affect us?
I think it affects you.
Hey, we're gonna have to design for that you're gonna have to design to understand that different people may share this car.
Or people are gonna start reverting back to, well, I maybe I need to buy my own car again and have my own sanctuary or something like that.
They expect some type of Response from us to make sure that we're accounting for that.
And I think Kimberly touched on that the, you need to be safe and you need to have this assurance that you're gonna be able to be safe in a car.
Yeah, it's interesting.
Kimberly, what you mentioned, as Dave's kind of pointing out is this is kind of for many people the last refuge they have, that's all there's at least that's traditionally What our vehicles have been if they're privately owned, the amyn CMF color materials finishes the materials that sounds like where a lot of interesting work will be done to make the car or keep the car, a safe place in terms of just.
Biological factors what's going on out there?
I keep I read the headlines about my antimicrobial materials and maybe using ultraviolet light in cars.
What are some of the newest design trends that are trying to make the car feel like there's no skin factor about it, whether it's shared or otherwise?
Yeah, that's definitely something that we've been talking about quite a bit in this in this specialty of automotive.
We have an ongoing dialogue about how we take care of the health of someone inside a vehicle.
So as you know, you mentioned some of the key things we've already discussed antibacterial issues.
The engineering team has been kind enough to include HIPAA filters now, as part of our interiors.
And we're seeing more and more thought about how we feel in that interior.
Doesn't make us feel healthy.
Do we smell different things that are off gassing?
How do we reduce off gassing?
So all of those interior, comforts are definitely being addressed by the materials teams, and as well as the material engineering teams.
Well give me an example, if I get into a car, of the relatively near future, that's really had a chance to have the latest thinking Put into production.
What might I see that's different inside of a 2024 vehicle that's been tuned toward today's sensibilities.
I think that if we look at some materials, they have natural characteristics to reduce pollutants.
So I think if we can engineer and validate materials that will help us Reduce those pollutants and or viruses that do come into the environment with natural characteristics of biomimicry.>> Biomimicry.
That's an interesting term.
We want to understand.
For example, if a gecko can stick to a wall, what is the special characteristics that they have on their hands?
Is there a way that we can apply that in the sports industry for example?
So we look at that and we look at plants that help clean the air, is there a way that we can bring in some of that scientific knowledge into some of the textiles?
And materials that we apply automotive.>> So Dave, if you look at what might happen within a brand like Acura that is a premium brand.
So I would imagine it can move on these kinds of ideas sooner than maybe a more low cost.
Where do you think the first levers are that need to get pulled that are going to have great traction with consumers sooner than others?
In terms of some of the things we're talking about here?
Can you give us any peek into what might drop first?
The first thing I can think of is HDMI.
So if you have voice activated, you don't have to touch it.
[LAUGH] You're thinking, Okay, well, I need to get Whoever has the best HDMI system or what what I'm comfortable with, what accurate we did the touchpad, which is either touchscreen or touchpad you're touching something.
But the absolute touchpad if you think of it, it's much more useful as the voice activated.
So I think people some of it is say, door handles are electric Items like that are automatic.
So if you walk up in the proximity of your car and it opens itself, the doors ajar or something, you don't have to touch anything.
Those kinds of things I think are coming.
And I think that was coming anyway probably but but COVID has really made it much more important.
So I think that a lot of what Kimberly touched on, Is not just the car itself but the mindset or your sanctuary,you brought it up Brian and that's doable now,it's just implementing it.>>Now in your position [UNKNOWN] I know you're thinking a lot about what consumers want and what can they Digest, what can What are they ready for?
Because you can do a lot, but you want to make sure you're not getting too far ahead of your customers.
Do you think that is this a case for the automakers to lead and say, Look, here's a new set of traits you need in your car.
We're going to educate you and make it available to you.
Or is it a little more of a respectful follow of where consumers heads are and don't get too far ahead of them?
Where Where do you fit in that kind of sort of phasing with a consumer?>> [CROSSTALK] Ther are like that.
I think, honestly, it's you want to be ahead of the curve.
You want to make sure that you're kind of leading the way and I think it's important with the vehicles because, Everybody's gonna wanna trust you, and you have an advantage if you come out with that quicker, but I do think that ultimately what is the buyer so me I know myself.
So as an accurate buyer, what am I looking for, I'm looking for the performance.
So I maybe that's the way I relieve stress is really fast.
And within the speed limit,
But I think that some of that we're not gonna get too far down the road of this is the safest vehicle all our vehicles should be safe that should be a price of admission, no matter what But the the advantages, you know, the actual drive and experience and what what is that, you know, Art Center is usually at the tip of the spear for that.
So if we get classes that that are investigating that what would you do for COVID and then it kind of trickles into us as we hire these people.
They have that mindset of I am concerned about the, kind of environment or I'm concerned about what's happening with governor.
I'm concerned about sustainability, things like that.
I think that's, become the last 10 years, much more important than it was before.
Kimberly tell me how you listen to consumers.
How you assess their interest.
There's there's millions of people buying cars every year just in the US.
You obviously can't talk to all or even a huge number of them.
What do you use as some of your probes in your signals that take you the right way?
We learned looking at all of the trends that are moving currently, we've had so much change in the past six months with the way that we've altered our life.
If we look at the way the sports industry has definitely shifted the way that they play the game.
And we look at the buying habits of most people.
the fashion industry is taken quite a bit of a hit in regards to daily fashion but when it comes to comfort fashion, active sports wear slippers and lounge lounge wear those sales have definitely increased.
So that already gives me a key understanding that people are looking for comfort.
And they're not so interested in being out and about and maybe with too many people in different environments.
So if I understand that people are looking for comfort and coziness, that is definitely a way that I can move material innovation for automotive as well.
I want them to feel as comfortable in that space as they do in their home.
And also when we look at the new way of work, we are definitely all in the little boxes now.
And that is allowed a lot of companies to say you don't necessarily have to work physically in this building.
So we also seen people move from big cities out into small towns.
You There will be a different type of commuting.
That's going to happen because of this when they do come into the city for a weekly meeting or a monthly meeting.
This brings up the existential question of rideshare versus personal car that I drive myself a big question.
It's right up there with the big ones like should I cut the cord and It's one of the biggest central tech questions these days.
Right now we hear that people have really swung hard toward personal car ownership and usage again, what do you what are you looking though long term as everyone says, a lot of things are going to snap back after COVID.
The logic in me says I would hope that most people would continue to wash their hands And I did not necessarily wear masks for the rest of their life but I do think it's gonna snap back.
And then I think it's gonna, you know, as you just get used to it, people will start doing ride share again and you know, it's it's convenient and unnecessary.
I think that what we have to do is provide vehicles for the ride share that incorporate all the things we've talked about.
That if you have a personal space in a car then you know me, I'm not any of them Uber Lyft whatever.
If you had rideshare cars, you know, here they are, they have a you know, a taxi plaques or whatever, then you feel a lot more safe, you know in that atmosphere.
I think that The actual probably hit for a while is more public transportation.
But then that's going to come back because people are buying, like winnebagos right and left and they're buying, offroad vehicles to go and I get that.
I grew up in the woods so I like that people wanna go out and commune and do that kinda stuff, but I think that you know, after a while, the not loneliness, but the seclusion will probably get to people and they'll want just to live.
So I think that at some point it's gonna revert back.
So if I said it's at 20 going to go back to the way it is.
That would be my guess.
Yeah, there's an enduring appetites as you mentioned, certainly in the US.
Mobility culture, which I guess is a very broad term to have that ability to go out there, do it on my own, be on my own, and maybe not be entirely sure where I'm gonna end up we have that wanderlust.
That has been a big part of the US mobility picture from back in the days and we just called it car ownership.
Before I got this loft on the.
I got a wagon.
Take it all the way back.
Alright, some interesting thoughts about the trends in automotive design and especially how they have been even more complex.
catered or made more dynamic by COVID-19.
I've been talking to Kimberly Marty, who is a design educator at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, also co owner of design spectrum architecture and design firm.
And Dave Merrick, longtime Executive Creative Director at accurate and also on the faculty at art center.