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In Case You Missed It: Rise and Design #66

A run down of ‘Rise and Design: Design in the Automotive Sector’ from our Network Manager, Terry McStea

This month saw the event in a different venue for the first time in around four years. In fact it’s exactly four years since the Northern Design Centre opened and became the home of DNN and Rise and Design. But it’s good to get out and about sometimes.

As we all know, the automotive sector is very important to the North East and, while it may be dominated by Nissan, there are dozens of other companies supplying them and many other automotive manufacturers across the globe.

One of those companies is Gestamp, based just up the road from the venue in Newton Aycliffe, and Tom Larsen, R&D manager gave a fascinating insight into their products, the design processes and techniques they employ, and some of the challenges they face. His design team is recognised as one of the best in the world and a major reason why Gestamp continue to base much of their production in the UK.

Tom Larsen, Gestamp, on autonomous cars – “If they don’t crash, we don’t need forward facing seats…a car could become a moving living space”

We then heard from Stephen Irish of Hyperdrive who are leading the way in electric vehicle technology. Their batteries are used in all sorts of vehicles, from cars to unmanned boats, as well as the Flux Capacitor, Europe’s fastest street legal electric vehicle ( for a while anyway).

Hedgehog Lab, who have been working with Mitsubishi on their ‘Connected Car’ concept, described the design sprint they went through with the company. They came up with dozens of ideas, which were then whittled down to those that had real potential. And all of this over the course of a five day process.

But then, just when it seemed the main event was drawing to a close, we were all invited to jump on board a bus. Yes, that’s right. St Oswald’s Hospice have recently become the proud owners of a bright blue double decker bus, prompting quite a few jealous looks. Jane Hogan, their Business Development Manager was keen to get ideas from everyone about the different ways they could use the bus to raise awareness and funding for the charity. So we all piled on board, where cupcakes awaited (charities are powered by tea and cakes), and creative juices flowed.

So if you see a bus that looks like a beauty parlour, a virtual reality simulator or a mobile climbing wall in the next few months, you’ll know where the idea came from.