Every car starts as an idea, formed through a process that we call design. How important is design in telling if a car is Canadian? Is there something about the way a car looks—its form—that we recognize as Canadian? Or is it a car’s pistons and gears—its function—that truly matters?

Meet a couple of Canadian car designers, see how they work, and learn about the process of car design. Decide for yourself whether design is what makes a car Canadian.
Every car starts as an idea, formed through a process that we call design. How important is design in telling if a car is Canadian? Is there something about the way a car looks—its form—that we recognize as Canadian? Or is it a car’s pistons and gears—its function—that truly matters?

Meet a couple of Canadian car designers, see how they work, and learn about the process of car design. Decide for yourself whether design is what makes a car Canadian.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Paul Deutschman talks about the designer’s role in creating cars.

In this video, Paul Deutschman talks about the designer’s role in creating cars. Paul Deutschman was born in 1954 in Arvida, Quebec. He studied automotive engineering at Hatfield Polytechnic in England, and honed his design skills at Jaguar and Rover. Today, designs emerging from Paul’s Montreal studio, Deutschman Design, are internationally acclaimed.

[Narrator:]

What is the role of a designer in creating today’s cars?

Paul Deutschman

[Paul Deutschman answers:]

Car design is one of the most exciting jobs in the world. As a designer, you actually get to create the cars that people will be driving in the future! Car design is extremely important because it’s the best designed cars are often the best selling cars.

To be a successful designer you need to combine many skills. First, you need to love imagining how the cars of the future will look. You need to be good at sketching and 3D modeling—presenting your ideas in clay and on the computer. Car designers need to have a sound technical knowledge of how cars are manufactured. They also need to keep their eyes and ears open to what are the latest trends in the world of fashion, what are the latest technical advances, and so on.

The designer must be able to distill all this input into a desirable, original, and viable set of wheels.

Canada Science and Technology Museum
2010
Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Design concept rendering of the Porsche Spexter, 1987

Paul Deutschman gained recognition as a car designer for his work on the Porsche Spexter—a car that would influence Porsche’s later designs.

Deutschman Design Inc.
1987
Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
© Deutschman Design Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The Main Steps in Designing Today’s Cars

In this video, Jacques Ostiguy outlines the steps involved in designing a car. Jacques Ostiguy was born in 1947 in Montreal. In 1975, he graduated from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Jacques has worked with Chrysler, Ford and Bombardier, as well as for renowned designer Raymond Loewy. He also taught industrial design at Carleton University in Ottawa for 20 years.

[Narrator:]

What are the main steps in designing a car today?

Jacques Ostiguy

[Jacques Ostiguy answers:]

We can say, for the sake of simplicity, that there’s ten essential steps common to corporate automobile design:

1. First, we have product planning and development. Careful market research lets us develop cars that people actually want—increasing sales and a car company’s market share.

2. The second step is to develop a ‘design brief.’ This report is approved by the car company’s management, and given to the engineering and design departments.

3. In step three, designers, working in teams, make conceptual sketches in response to the brief.

4. The fourth step is the concept review. The design teams subsequently choose their best ideas—these ideas will be further developed.

5. The fifth step is the development of a full-size model. This leads to the fabrication of a running prototype.

6. Next, we have pre-production testing and evaluation.

7. Step seven is product review. We consult with consumers, talk to dealer networks, and hold meetings with vendors and suppliers.

8. The eighth step is quality control. This involves checking the pre-production prototype against design specifications. If the prototype is up to spec., it will be released to the tool and die from which body parts are cut and stamped.

9. The car company then launches its advertising campaign.

10. And the last step is the public unveiling of the final product.

Canada Science and Technology Museum
2010
Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Full-Size design concept rendering of the Plymouth Volaré by Jacques S. Ostiguy, 1975

Jacques Ostiguy presented this full-size drawing of the Plymouth Volaré in a 1975 design competition. His was the winning design, beating out 175 others in the competition.

Jacques S. Ostiguy
1975
Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
© Jacques S. Ostiguy. All Rights Reserved.


Format: Research, Debate

There are many considerations that automakers take into account when designing a car for the Canadian market. Can you imagine what these might be? How would these influences impact cars designed for the Canadian market?

Break into groups and take a position on the following topic: Is there such a thing as “Canadian car design”? Why or why not? Be prepared to support your position with research notes.

Format: Research, Debate

There are many considerations that automakers take into account when designing a car for the Canadian market. Can you imagine what these might be? How would these influences impact cars designed for the Canadian market?

Break into groups and take a position on the following topic: Is there such a thing as “Canadian car design”? Why or why not? Be prepared to support your position with research notes.


© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Format: Team activity

Work in groups of 6 to 9 students to design the next great car for the Canadian market. Paul Deutschman’s video, The Designer’s Role in Creating Cars and Jacques Ostiguy’s video, The Main Steps in Designing Today’s Cars, will give you valuable insight into the car design process.

As a team, follow these steps (based on the process outlined in Jacques Ostiguy’s video):

1. Select a lead designer to moderate large-group discussions.

2. Create a design brief. Your design brief should indicate: 

• the price range for your car ($18,000 to $22,000; $23,000 to $35,000; $36,000 to $45,000)

• your target market (families, active young singles, successful professionals, older retirees)

• the main features that your car will have (for example two door vs. four door, four-wheel drive, etc.)

• seating and luggage capacity

• sales potential (where in Canada your car might be sold)

3. Brainstorm ways in which your car could fulfill the requirements of your design brief.
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Format: Team activity

Work in groups of 6 to 9 students to design the next great car for the Canadian market. Paul Deutschman’s video, The Designer’s Role in Creating Cars and Jacques Ostiguy’s video, The Main Steps in Designing Today’s Cars, will give you valuable insight into the car design process.

As a team, follow these steps (based on the process outlined in Jacques Ostiguy’s video):

1. Select a lead designer to moderate large-group discussions.

2. Create a design brief. Your design brief should indicate: 

• the price range for your car ($18,000 to $22,000; $23,000 to $35,000; $36,000 to $45,000)

• your target market (families, active young singles, successful professionals, older retirees)

• the main features that your car will have (for example two door vs. four door, four-wheel drive, etc.)

• seating and luggage capacity

• sales potential (where in Canada your car might be sold)

3. Brainstorm ways in which your car could fulfill the requirements of your design brief.

4. Break into groups of three to design a car.

5. As a large group, review each small team’s design. Select one car design for further development. Which design best fits the design brief? Which car has the most sales potential? Which car looks like it will have the fewest manufacturing complications?

6. Once you’ve picked the ‘winning’ design, work as a large group to finalize any remaining details. Make decisions about comfort features, colours, and materials. Sketch out the winning design, and discuss options for a public unveiling strategy (how will you announce and market your new car).

7. Present your ‘finished product’ to the class. Get creative! You might want to include music to target your market, or create a multimedia presentation.

Be sure to record all decisions that your team takes, and to keep copies of your Design Brief, sketches, and brainstorming notes. These will be collected by your teacher.


© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will identify and expand upon the various environmental and social influences that might impact on the design and development of a Canadian product.
  • Students will identify the various steps required to bring an idea from concept to execution.

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