RCA Intelligent Mobility Degree Show.

All thoughts


Written by: Clive Hartley

This year marked a significant change for the Royal College of Art’s Vehicle Design course with its evolution into ‘Intelligent Mobility’.

The course has always been a hive of thoughtful and sometimes provocative work and it has been good to see how well this year’s students have adapted to the new course structure and emphasis. Whilst the inherent visual nature of the majority of students was still evident in the work on show, it was interesting to see the growing importance and strength of the narratives behind the elegant forms.

When we visited last week, it was interesting to note the many examples of shared mobility concepts in the show. Many of them examining the social forces that draw us together and, perhaps crucially for this type of mobility concept, keep us apart. Or Schachar’s Spotify-powered shared rides struck a chord with us (pun sort of intended…), it uses music to create connections between users, reminding us of the strength of music as a communal activity.

Aditya Jangrid looked at how he could create a shared mobility vehicle that allowed users some degree of say in how much they shared their space, using a green wall to create one large area suitable for a family of four or more or two discrete compartments for separate groups. The abstracted model that he built showcased this idea very elegantly.

Riccardo Petruzzi tackled the same problem, emerging with a very different solution in the form of BYOS, a smart poncho that inflates to provide a comfortable seating position and acts as a barrier between the wearer and the dirt and grime of shared vehicles and public transport.

If one common theme of the show was how to define individual spaces in shared vehicles and public transport, the other was escapism, evident in a number of ocean-going designs that acted as a safe haven in a world of rising sea-levels or, in the case of Aaj Patel, a spiritual retreat to re-engage high-net worth individuals with the fundamentals of life.

Despite the change of name, the RCA is still producing designers that understand the power of a meaningful story and the work on display by the inaugural Intelligent Mobility graduates showed wit and an optimism that design can be a catalyst for change.