A team of final year students from our BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design were recently named winners of a concept design competition organised by LSH Auto who have eight Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the Midlands and the North West.
4A Studios, made up of Luke Reynolds, Gergana Ivanova, Wictoria Glowczewska and Pooja Halai, won the competition to create a new concept design for the interior of a Mercedes-Benz dealership of the future.
The judging panel praised the high standard of submissions from students across the course and commented that the design put forward by 4A Studios showed a depth of research and an excellent approach to communicating concepts with the client. They also felt the design embraced LSH Auto’s brand and ethos while encouraging new and innovative ideas.
We caught up with the winning team to find out more about their experience…
Firstly, congratulations on your win! What did the project involve for you?
Pooja: As a group we were tasked with proposing a new design for LSH Auto’s Mercedes-Benz showroom in Tamworth. We were given a schedule of accommodation and the details of the spaces to be included and their square footage.
Luke: The brief asked us allow space for back of house, sales departments and flexible workspaces for staff and customers as well as providing enough room to fit 9 cars in the primary show space. We were required to develop a scheme that aligned with the company’s new design concept that has been rolled out across their showrooms in Europe. Working together over 2½ weeks, we had to present an A1 presentation panel that showcased our scheme as well as a concept film or animation.
Can you tell us more about what you created and the inspiration behind it?
Gergana: Our design proposal for the showroom focuses on reinforcing the professionalism and brand identity of Mercedes-Benz, their sustainability ethos as well as providing an inclusive technological user experience.
Wiktoria: A lot of our inspiration came from the Grand Prix win alongside local history including Tamworth Castle. We looked at various case studies of showrooms around the world to challenge the idea of a conventional showroom design. We also designed a virtual reality space where users could envisage the thrill of driving a Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 car. Furthermore, we also took into consideration the staff who needed a high quality work space where the show room is still visible.
Pooja: We proposed a showroom that kept the client at the heart of the design, focusing on interactions between customers and staff as well as considering how online customers would interact with the showroom.
Luke: We wanted to create a sense of ‘missing out’ for customers that chose to shop online. We focused on converting customers who were browsing into potential sales through user interaction and a combination of intimate and open spaces.
What did you enjoy most about the project?
Wiktoria: The most enjoyable part was meeting as a group to see the 3D model come together and see our ideas expressed as visual forms.
Gergana: As a team we pushed each other out of our comfort zones so much, to try something we haven’t really tried.
Pooja: I agree, it was great working with an amazing group, all contributing in our own ways and playing to our individual strengths. It was also very different to our normal university projects, so it was nice to design something quite different and unique.
How have you found the experience of working with industry professionals?
Luke: The most valuable experiences I’ve had at BCU have been working with industry clients, let alone LSH Auto who are industry leaders in their field. It was overwhelming at first but so much fun! With these experiences under my belt, I’ve recognised the path I want to take after graduation and focus on becoming a 3D visual artist in both the architectural field and the graphic design and game industry. As part of the competition I was the lead in graphics and visuals and was heavily involved in the final production of the renderings, graphic documents and presentation panels, which only strengthened the idea I had about my career choice.
Pooja: It was challenging but gave us a real experience of working within a time frame, considering a budget and making sure we were meeting the client’s requirements. It highlighted the importance of working with a team. It also showed how you need to be confident in how you present your ideas but also be able to respond well to feedback and criticism.
Wiktoria: The experience has taught me that real life projects are fast-paced and shown me that I can work well as part of any group through good time management and communication.
Gergana: The competition helped me push myself and expand my design thinking, I’m looking forward to bringing what I’ve learned into my future projects and hopefully continue exploring even more design possibilities.
What advice would you give to prospective students starting on your course?
Pooja: Be confident in your abilities and play to your key strengths. Constantly try new things and push yourself towards your goals, even when you don’t feel motivated your hard work will pay off in the end. I’d say be open-minded and explore all the potential careers you could pursue with this course.
Luke: It is probably one of the most diverse courses you could do, not only are you trained as an interior designer but the huge range of skills you learn can be applied in so many ways. The best advice I could give to new students on any course is to develop a strong working routine. It sounds obvious but being disciplined about it has been really successful for me.
Gergana: The whole experience is full of surprises and possibilities, and is challenging to the individual and their creativity. I suggest diving into the unknown, as this course has proven to be something completely different than what I had expected it to be.
Wiktoria: The course holds many opportunities for learning new skills and working with lots of external partners as you mould yourself into the career you wish to take. The course is very hands-on and intense, but it’s worth every minute due to the satisfaction you gain when you see your work come to life.