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New normal? Pininfarina contest seeks reset of designs and dreams

‘To rethink what human experience will be like in the New Normal’


As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, Pininfarina has launched a competition for students of design and architecture to express their wishes under the theme, “Design Reset: New Dreams for a New World.”

In other words, “to rethink what human experiences will be like in the New Normal,” said the Italian company that may be best known for its automotive designs but that also has a long history in product design and architecture.

Architecture, design and art schools in Austria, Germany, China, Italy, France, India, England, Sweden, Brazil and the United States were invited to participate.

“Unlike most design competitions which normally focus on one particular area of design, Pininfarina wants to open up the competition to industrial designers, digital designers, transportation designers and architects,” the company said.

From October 2020 to March 2021, students of the mentioned schools will have the chance to submit their solutions inspired by three themes (with Pininfarina’s descriptions): 

  • Smart Individual Mobility: A new way to move that is easier, more efficient, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, safe and comfortable for the individual. 
  • Smart Social Mobility: A new way to move together, namely create new forms of collective mobility that promote the concept of sharing and a sustainable lifestyle: public transport (such as rail, metro, tram and bus networks), car-sharing, car-pooling, flexible mobility services such as people movers, autonomous shuttles, demand-responsive transport vehicles, and related infrastructure.
  • Smart Spaces: A new way to live together, namely create a temporary outdoor pavilion to be completely built off-site through rapid prototyping, digital fabrication and/or robotic technologies. The full building lifecycle should be considered: materials sustainability and recyclability is a must.

“Design has the ability to innovate continuously while enhancing the lives of people, and provide the response to imagining a new future,” Pininfarina said in announcing the contest. 

Because it designs much more than automobiles, Pininfarina said it celebrates its own anniversary “with a unique contest that will involve the new generations and major universities to re-think, re-design and build a positive future way of moving and livingthus submitting projects where product and experience come together.”

“We are particularly interested in starting a worldwide discussion about the way of designing for the future, so we invited some prestigious design schools across the globe to take part in a competition that tackles this question,” said Kevin Rice, Pininfarina’s chief creative officer.

“We want to put this challenge out to the very best future designers so, for that reason, we would like to aim the competition towards the students which are already active in only the very best design academies, rather than a blanket Social Media approach.”

Winners in each category will receive a 6-month internship at Pininfarina studios in Torino, Miami or Shanghai. Special awards also will be presented.

“Designers can and must play a crucial role in shaping our new dreams in a brave new world,” Rice said. “With this contest we officially invite designers to think outside of the box, to surprise us.”

For more information, visit the design contest website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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