When I wandered into the Royal College of Art yesterday, it dawned on me that it’s 21 years since I first visited the Vehicle Design degree show. Back in 1991, I had a couple of friends graduating from the course and I visited them now and again.
What really struck me was the difference between the design approach of the class of 1991 and the class of 2012. It’s a difference that will feed through into the cars we can buy.
You will recognise some of the names - or their work - from 1991. Marek Reichman (now design boss at Aston Martin), Niels Loeb (pen behind the VX220 and a big cheese at Opel for many years), Geoff Gardiner (Citroen, Ford and now Renault) and Thomas Ingelath (VW, Skoda and now the new Volvo design boss).
There was a very distinct feel to the Class of 1991. They put a huge emphasis on illustration and high quality model making. Renderings were of an astonishing standard, probably never bettered since. Designs were extremely refined, polished and sophisticated.
You can see how these guys - now in their mid-40s and running design studios - have influenced production cars. The incredibly polished Aston Rapide is a good example, as are Audis of the last 10 years and the new VW design language. Indeed, Audi design boss Stefan Sielaff graduated from the RCA in 1990.