Art of Drive: An Interview With Automotive Designer Matthew Robson

Our Art of Drive series interviews artists, designers and photographers to find out what inspires them.

Please give our readers an introduction to who you are, where you are from, and what you do?

I am Matthew Robson from London and recent graduate from the Vehicle Design Masters at the Royal College of Art.

When did you start drawing and how did your life as an artist/designer begin?  

Ever since I was a child I have been intrigued by the way objects are designed and produced, I fed my curiosity with countless Lego sets and drawings. Going through school with a strong interest in art and design, I was amazed to find there was actually a university course dedicated to automotive design. Without a second thought I had applied and within my first week of study I knew what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

Who and what have inspired you and influenced your work?

I take much of my inspiration from designers outside the automotive field, such as teh late Zaha Hadid, whose iconic style and use of materials led me to create a concept for a completely new type of bus for London. When disciplines are mixed there is a chance to explore new ways of thinking helping to develop original ideas. This is the concept upon which the Royal College of Art is built and one of the most important things I learned in my time there.

Has your work style evolved over time?

It's easy enough for most people to become a sketch or Photoshop genius with enough time spent alone in the studio, but developing design thinking is something that can only be achieved with a close group of like-minded people, who all drive each other to push the boundaries of what people expect. I am lucky to be surrounded by such people and they have played a massive role in making my individual design style into what it is today.

Please take us through the thinking and creative process behind your sketches and renderings.

For this particular Land Rover project I found my inspiration in nature and how plants have evolved to protect and pass on their genetic information.

This Land Rover sponsored project explores the notion of handing over our safety, security and control to an object. Made from two intersecting monolithic surfaces, one of which symbolises strength and function the other encompassing the occupants in their own closed off environment. Helping passengers to relax into this inevitable change from manual to autonomous.

After I have a general idea of my direction I collect a bank of reference images related to my thinking and surround myself with them letting them subconsciously influence me and my designs. After weeks of sketching I start to develop a theme which, in its current state, may look far from automotive. I will then take this idea and start to see how it can be refined and developed to reach the needs of an automotive product with the use of Photoshop and 3D software such as Autodesk Alias.

With the main proportions and volumes set I then work with an Alias digital 3D modeller to produce 3D data. This process helps to further refine the forms, eventually producing the final design ready for the first scale model phase.

Are you a production car enthusiast?

I am very much a production car enthusiast but I do find that many of my favourite designs such as the Ferrari 256 are from a time where the design team consisted of just a few people distilling one clear vision into a piece of automotive art, forming a resounding impact on anyone who is lucky enough to enjoy them.

What design projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a number of automotive design projects, one of which is a completely bespoke supercar created entirely from scratch for a client. Built around a hugely powerful engine with an advanced chassis and performance aero it will easily be able to compete with any of the production supercars today. Due to be built next year.

What is next for you?

After just graduating a few weeks ago I am currently weighing up my options but the excitement of freelance design work and leading my own projects is difficult to walk away from.

Where can we see or purchase more of your work?