Design Master's Speech | Evolutionary Double Circulation, Design-driven Innovation and Win-win
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How we interact deeply with the city of Xiongan and the people around it is a question we need to think about.

——Zhao Huasen 


Zhaohuasen, executive director of Aston Martin Lagonda Creative Lab, NICE2035, Tongji University; executive director of Aston Martin Lagonda Creative Lab, NICE2035, Tongji University; associate director, associate professor and master supervisor of product service system design, College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University; Ph.D. of China Academy of Art; post-doctoral of Academy of Art & Design, Tsinghua University. He worked at the Glasgow School of Art in England, and was appointed as a special expert at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. His research fields are smart city and future travel service system design, digital art and design in smart city. His works have been exhibited at Triennale di Milan in Italy, Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne in France, Biennale Night of Kempten Art in Germany, Dakar Biennale in Senegal, Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture and Gwangju Design Biennale..


Aston Martin, a well-known British car company brand tied to James Bond, the hero of the James Bond film series, cooperated with Tongji University to set up an overseas studio in Shanghai in 2018. As a century-old luxury car brand, why did it choose to set up its first overseas studio in Shanghai, China, and why did it choose to set up in an ordinary alley?

At the Xiongan Design Forum of the Hebei International Industrial Design Week 2021, Mr. Zhao Huasen, Executive Director of Aston Martin Lagonda Creative Lab, NICE2035, Tongji University in Shanghai, shared his research results about the innovation space.



NICE2035 Innovation Space

China is the fastest growing market for Aston Martin in the world, which makes understanding the real needs of China’s young consumers is of great importance to Aston Martin’s future development. Rather than speculating on the preferences of the Chinese market from as far away as the UK, it is natural to open a workshop directly in the mainland. Therefore, under such consideration, Aston Martin and Tongji University have partnered to set up the NICE2035 Innovation Space, a community-based R&D center.


Aston Martin Lagonda Creative Lab, NICE2035 Innovation Space was initiated and created by Professor Lou Yongqi, then Dean of the College of Design and Innovation,Tongji University, and Professor Marek Reichman, Global Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Aston Martin. The innovation center focuses on exploring the frontiers of creative design, studying the needs of global millennials and future design trends, adhering to Professor Lou Yongqis positioning of the laboratory associated with the NICE2035 prototype street. In other words, with the support of the universitys talent, creativity, technology, capital and transformation, we focus on the future lifestyles. Driven by design thinking, we start from the demands and users, focus on solving real-world problems through a series of small and interconnected interdisciplinary integration and reverse innovation projects with the method of life lab.

The innovation space is chosen to be set up in the community, not only because Aston Martin wants to interact deeply with the community and let the residents and children feel its brand spirit, but also because of Mr. Lou Yongqis innovative positioning of the NICE2035 laboratory - the double circulation.


What is double circulation? The double circulation refers on the one hand to the on-campus circulation, which is set up to all disciplines on campus through Martin Lab; on the other hand, it refers to the external circulation. Here, in addition to the circulation between schools and enterprises, there is another circulation, that is, the circulation with communities.


Intangible Customization and Interaction

Aston Martin Lagonda Creative Lab, NICE2035 Innovation Space is established to conduct forward-thinking research in the areas of automotive design and smart connectivity. In terms of the collaborative system built by the Innovation Space and the relationship between the projects, it serves as a nucleus that drives the interaction between Shanghai intangible cultural heritage, Tongji University and Aston Martin. The specific project is mainly based on the design of non-foreign heritage embroidered fabric and intelligent fabric cockpit.

Aston Martin is well known for its Q customization service, non-heritage embroidery with traditional cultural overtones, and Tongji University has teachers who study smart fabrics. In the context of such conditions, the Innovation Space side constructed such a topic: the integration of intellectual embroidery future travel, intelligent fabric, and intangible cultural heritage innovation. Under this topic, the students from Tongji University made the design works of natural interaction.


Ingenious Skin” - The creative team designed the fabric interaction interface based on the user’s gesture interaction habits when riding in the car, which allows the user to adjust the cabin volume and window height when sliding on the fabric interface. In terms of pattern design, it extracts and transforms the koi and auspicious cloud patterns from traditional Chinese patterns, and guides the direction of user gestures through regular changes in size and thickness. In terms of technical implementation, the creative team combined conductive woven thread, thermochromic thread and traditional woven thread to break through the limitations of traditional intelligent hardware interaction, enhance the interaction experience of car passengers, and also provide creative new ideas for the interior design of future car cabins.


Community In-depth Interaction

Innovation Space cares a lot about the children in the community. When they are doing projects, they will pass on design ideas to children in the community through hands-on activities.

Why do 95% of Aston Martin cars still survive? Its because Aston Martin builds its cars like works of art, with dynamic body lines that can facilitate designers creative design. Zhao Huasen said that the innovation space will also carry out some artistic design, and will also drive the latest Aston Martin DBX to the community, inviting community residents to conduct light painting activitie and share Martins pursuit of ultimate quality, beauty and design and some design concepts with the community residents and children.


△“Shapes Beyond Light - the work is a digital sculpture based on the Aston Martin logo, derived from a flat graphic to a three-dimensional space. The sculpture combines solidity with light and shadow, and the shape of the Aston Martin logo can be projected on a flat surface under the illumination of a point light source. The styling is inspired by the Aston Martin GT car flying through a winding race track: starting from the origin, then returning to the origin after a long journey and extreme curves, which is full of speed and sportiness.


Finally, he stressed once again that Innovation Space is not only deeply interacting with universities and enterprises, but also with communities. When talking about the experience of an elementary school student who came to visit the studio once, he said, while the child is ignorant, I believe that everything we do will definitely plant a small seed in his young mind, and he will grow up to be a person with a sense of responsibility and the pursuit of the ultimate and aesthetic.