Art Of Drive: Ege Arguden's Porsche 901 Design Concept

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

Who are you, what is your recent study background, and who are you now working for?

My name is Ege Arguden, I was born in the United States to Turkish parents. A couple months after I was born we moved back to Turkey and I grew up in Istanbul. My passion for car design started at an early age, when I was six years old. On a rainy day, as I was watching the car passing by in traffic, I asked my father how cars were built and he explained to me that first they are sketched and designed by designers. I knew at that moment that it was my dream. I had always loved drawing and cars and when I learned that two of my passions could be integrated in one job I knew that it was the perfect job for me.

No one around me had any idea about car design when I was a little child. So I sketched, researched from the Internet and tried to learn as much as possible about car design on my own. When I was twelve years old I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Ekber Onuk by my father. He is the chairman of Yonca-Onuk, an industrial scale enterprise with a modern shipyard capable of serial production of state of the art pleasure, commercial and naval craft. They were also working on a couple of car design projects. As I showed my sketchbook to Ekber, he invited me to work there and learn from two very talented Turkish designers, Eralp Noyan and Gökhan Akış. During weekends after school I started working there. When I was sixteen years old Murat Günak, former Head of Design of Volkswagen Group, came to Yonca-Onuk for a visit. I was introduced to him and showed him my work. He invited me for an internship at the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam, Germany. In 2006 and 2007 during my high school holidays I went there for summer internships.

Those internships were amazing to me as a sixteen year old. I saw the actual car design world and experienced it, which sealed my dream of becoming a car designer. The following year I emailed Chris Bangle, then BMW Design Director as I was a big fan of his work. I was again very fortunate to be invited to BMW for a summer internship. After I graduated from high school, I went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California for a degree in Transportation Design. I recently graduated at the end of 2014 and now I'm ready to go into the car design world as a professional.

Explain your automotive interests. In which areas of car culture are you interested?

I was always intrigued by cool, fast cars. I remember seeing a pearlescent Lamborghini on the seaside roads of Istanbul when I was a little child. Exotic modern cars were much rarer at the time in Istanbul and they were the biggest fuel for my automotive passion. Towards starting college I started to learn more about classic cars and this sparked a passion for older classics. I'm also a big fan of racing cars. I feel like even though they are designed with purely functional purposes they are the epitome of styling and beauty. Right now I can say that I have a broad interest in car culture, basically anything that invokes a strong emotion in people interest me; racing cars, classics, bespoke cars, hot rods, you name it.

Have you always had a love for Porsche?

Unlike most Porsche fans, I didn't grow up with Porsche posters on my wall. My passion for Porsche came with my passion for classic cars at a later age, as I started college. The more I learned about Porsche's history the more I loved it. Especially seeing early RSRs with their huge fenders and amazing engine sound made me fall in love with Porsche. I'm a big fan of the newest 911 too, the rear is especially beautiful.

The 901 project - What was the brief and why did you choose this route?

The 901 was done as an independent project during my 7th term in Art Center. Independent projects are one on one projects done with the student and instructor. My instructor was Jae Min, Chief Designer at Volkswagen Design Center in California (DCC). Unlike most of our other classes, there's no limit or brief for an independent project. The project is chosen by the student and as long as your instructor approves it, you can do whatever you want. I wanted to use this chance to work on something that I have a strong passion on. One of my dreams is to have my own 1973 RSR project once I acquire the funds for it, so I wanted to explore what I would do if I designed that car from ground up. As I'm already a big fan of older Porsches, the research part would be very easy for me too.

From where did your inspiration come? What preparations did you do before beginning the design stage?

My main inspiration was the original 911 and 1973 RSR. Before starting to put pen on paper, I analyzed the original 911 to its smallest detail. Looking at different angles, blueprints, engineering drawings and trying to create a good memory of its 3D form in my head. 911 is a special car in the sense that it was produced for such a long time, it has so many variations of it; 934s, 935s, RSRs ducktails, Mary Stuart RSR. I analyzed all of them and also read a lot about Porsche's history in general.

What were the key Porsche characteristics that you used whilst developing this design?

Of course, the one most important element for designing a 911 is its silhouette. Even though the 911 evolved traditionally and still resembles the original one, I felt that the main difference between them is that the original one has a much lower sitting tail. Also the windscreen is much more upright. Therefore I was sketching a lot of silhouettes with those two things in mind and trying to get my hand used to sketching a '911 silhouette' with the right proportions. Form-wise, a Porsche is always sculptural and organic unlike, say, a Lamborghini. After you get these things right, It will probably look like a Porsche, thus I was free to explore different ideas after I got the basics right. One other key aspect I was trying to keep was the round headlights, although I experimented a lot with how they lay on the car and the angles.

Take us through each of  the design steps that you used through the process.

After the research was done, I started sketching with pen and paper. During the first stages I wanted to keep the possibilities open and explore as much as possible, so I sketched probably more than 100 pages. Most of them went to the trash without even showing them to my instructor. Every week we went through my sketches with my instructor and filtered them down to the most successful ones. After a couple of weeks of sketching, I started working in digital with Photoshop which allowed me to create much more controlled forms with the right proportions.

The next stage was packaging. I used my most successful ideas to create an orthographic engineering drawing with the right scale. During this process I had to figure out how to make my sketches work as an actual car where a person, engine fits in it, get the sizes right. My benchmark for the blueprints was mostly the original 911 and the new Cayman; since it's a lot smaller that the current 911. Once I had my blueprints I used them to start working the actual model in digital, using AliasAutomotive. Especially for this project, I had to spend many more hours on my model compared to many different models I did in the past. I believe that the reason 911 looks so good with its simple design is because it's refined to perfection. Of course my design won't compare to the original one, but I had to refine every line on my model for weeks to get the right look. Once my digital model was finished, I milled (CNC) the model out of foam and used Rapid Prototyping to build the details such as the wheels, mirrors, taillights. I sanded the foam mill to get nice automotive surfaces before and after primer and finally painted it.

How would you explain the final design result? What is the 901? What type of car is it?

I would say that 901 is a mix of the original 911 with a bit of my personality in it. This project was done mainly for myself, imagining what kind of Porsche I would want to drive If I could design it. I guess the best way to explain this project would be by quoting Ferdinand Porsche "I couldn't find the sports car of my dreams, so I built it myself". It's a modernised version of my dream 1973 RSR project. The result is a much smaller, simpler and untamed 911.

Can you offer advice for design students starting out on a new project?

I would like to give the same advice I've been given during my internships before college, which I always tried to keep in my mind before starting a project. Always respect the brand and its history, listen to others advice, yet do something that you like. And, have fun with it, because the more passion you have for what you're working on, the better the result will be.

This article first appeared in Fuel Magazine issue 19.

Follow Ege: @argege.