NIO brings lifestyle brand optimism to future designers at ArtCenter College of Design

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Spanning the world and multiple disciplines, NIO has sponsored design projects at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. During one semester, sixteen students from different departments worked on four projects. Departments included transportation, environment, interactive and multimedia design.

The interaction between students, NIO, and faculty created real-world work experience for students to implement the designs of the NIO lifestyle brand.

Alister Whelan, Studio Director, NIO (Munich), Colin Phipps, Senior Director of NIO Design Shanghai, China, and Kris Tomasson, Senior Vice President of Design, ArtCenter graduate, mentored the students and led the NIO project .

“It’s so exciting when we have an old one and a great project comes back, especially one that crosses multiple disciplines here at ArtCenter. This project is custom made for that. Our entire ArtCenter community has been really excited about it. It reflects what the team at NIO is doing – touching a lifestyle brand and thinking about a broader experience of transportation electrification and all of that. We value NIO so much,” says Stewart Reed, Department of transportation design.

“We told the students to think that far into the future and not hold back.”

Due to the pandemic, ArtCenter students participated in a hybrid learning environment where students from around the world worked as a team. During the semester, four groups of students worked with the professors in class and virtually. They worked virtually with NIO designers to develop essential features for their projects.

Students presented their projects either in person at the Hyundai Kia Innovation Studio on campus or virtually via Zoom. The studio features a wall of large-screen monitors, microphones, and cameras that allow for interaction as seamless as working in person.

NIO designers and department heads provided students with feedback on their designs. The students’ concepts expanded on the NIO lifestyle brand, community experience, and culture. The projects showed how NIO vehicles could connect to the environment, homes and travel destinations. One project explored how new technology could connect to NIO’s companion, Nomi.

“We told the students to think as far into the future and not hold back,” says Kimberly Marte, associate professor of transportation and product design, CMF director at Design Spectrum, “the multidisciplinary experiences of studio life are valuable to students.

Whelan was thrilled to see how the new rendering tools brought projects to life. He called the projects well done with professional animation. A project, according to him, was not fancy – everything had a real purpose and user benefits.

Project sponsored by Nio 5480

Design students look to the future with inspiration

“There is future optimism there. A sense of optimism is important to the NIO brand,” Phipps says of one of the student projects. He says the work with the students solved real-world problems holistically – making the most of cross-disciplines.

Phipps notes, “It was a pleasure to have brain discussions with the students about dreams and problem solving on paper. I think from the research phase to the ideation phase, there were a lot of good ideas. »

Whelan told the students, “It’s exciting to see a new generation of designers learn more about NIO and what makes us different. Hope you like NIO. If we ever come from your side of the globe, you will be part of our community. I think as a brand we offer something so different from any other brand.

Tomasson summed up the experience by telling participants, “I want to thank the students and teachers for their excellent work. It was a tough challenge. The challenge and the scope of the challenge were quite large. All in all, it was really nice to see how you tackled the projects and brought different aspects of our brand to life with different touchpoints. Thank you. There were very nice presentations overall. We look forward to doing more with you in the future. That would be great.”

Marte responds, “More than anything, I’m very grateful that we had a sponsor that allowed many majors to participate in a project like this.”

Student Mauro Diaz from the transport department comments: “It taught us to work together and focus not on ourselves but on the customer. It taught me the importance of finding a compromise but not in a bad way. In order to put aside his personal desires and work as a team.

Looking to the future with optimism was a wonderful place to play, adds Todd Masilko, associate professor of interaction design.

Chris Hacker, president of graphic design, told NIO designers and students, “We love these kinds of projects, where students rub shoulders with other students from other parts of the college. Students get to work on such a big picture and such a big idea. The kind of project where they get to express something that, in a kind of day-to-day output class, doesn’t happen. It is refreshing to see the work at all levels of these four projects being so broad and thoughtful. The truth is, no one can be a lone designer in one place anymore. You work with a team and we all learn from it. It’s a great way to learn what it’s like to work in a real place.

Cory Grosser, Environmental Design Instructor, explained how the future mobility landscape is changing: “I think it’s important for students to know what’s going on in the automotive and mobility industry. The car itself changes. It’s becoming a technology. It becomes an environment. This is probably the way to go by the nature of the change in what mobility will become.

“We appreciate a sponsor who brings us a project that is broad to allow everyone to drop the nameplate of which department they come from and talk about being a young, forward-looking creative. We appreciate the involvement with the companies to be able to do it in a classroom. Rather than trying to learn in their first job, it becomes a seriously bumpy road,” says David Mocarski, Department Head, Graduate and Undergraduate Environmental Design.

Niohouse Nanjing

Discovering new talent is a top priority for NIO

Working on sponsored projects often leads ArtCenter students to find jobs after graduation. This gives them vital experience working directly with studio executives who can see the talent level of the students. It is no coincidence that ArtCenter has carried out several sponsored projects with companies such as Ford,

Graduates of General Motors, Genesis, Honda, Hyundai and Stellantis and ArtCenter continue to be regularly hired at these studios, says Jay Sanders, executive director, Undergraduate Transportation Design.

Sanders reports, “Kris Tomasson was very encouraging to the students on how he wanted to connect with them all and stay in touch, to network for future opportunities, both employment and internships. Discovering new talent was a top priority for NIO with this ArtCenter engagement. We welcome mobility sponsors to ArtCenter who wish to explore the creative intersections of transportation, product, graphic and environmental design in the future.

Reed would like the college to continue working with NIO in the future. He suggests to NIO designers, “I think when NIO decides to build a NIO house in California, they should hire ArtCenter again.”

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