SHEDDING LIGHT ON CAR DESIGN
February 22, 2019
The face of the car plays a vital role in establishing a recognizable identity and signature for a car brand. “It’s the first thing people see and what they gravitate towards,” said Michael Churchill, Senior Designer at SF Motors and the one responsible for the SF Motors Sigma lighting design.
“From afar, something such as a grille becomes a graphic image you can recognize. This helps differentiate one car brand from another and communicates something about the driver,” he said.
Electric vehicles that no longer require a traditional grille provide more design freedom that comes with excitement and its own set of challenges.
Michael explained that trying to come up with something that hasn’t been done before while attempting to define the identity of a new car company wasn’t easy. However, when the Sigma lighting design was proposed and chosen from fifty other options, it was clear to the team the design was something special.
The light shape was inspired by the Greek symbol Sigma, which means sum. “The concept was a good representation of how SF Motors is a sum of technology and design,” he said.
“The thinner, simple, unified design provides a more advanced look that further communicates what SF Motors represents.”
Often what is shown in concept cars doesn’t make it to consumers due to engineering or supplier constraints. With a goal to design near production-ready lighting, he utilized VR tools and worked with engineers to ensure the final design was functional while maintaining design identity.
In regard to what’s ahead in the near term, Michael says more brands are hiding or tucking away projector lights, allowing the day time running lights to become the signature for brands. Future designs will also move away from a single projector and instead utilize multi-array projectors combined with slimmer lighting that feel more cutting-edge.
In the far future, Michael believes static lights may become more animated and provide new functionalities that can improve safety. For example, lights that signal pedestrians through on-road projections. Lighting design is certainly entering a new frontier, and Michael helps SF Motors light the way.