DEsign files
a growing collection of interviews and material regarding automotive design.
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esa mustonen

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Elegance

Esa Mustonen, the 23 year old product designer of RAW Design House, gives us a look into his automotive design process and talks about some of his inspirations.
Caption
RAW by koenigsegg is a concept car that esa made for his thesis project. "the concept car envisions a futuristic entry-levl hyper car". the goal was to design an ultimately light-weight hyper car using the koenigsegg 3-cylinder freevalve tfg engine.

As a designer you have to find a solution that works both from an aesthetical perspective and from a functional perspective.

credit
esa mustonen

interview

BP

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, where did you go to school, what did you study?


EM

I'm a 23 year old Finnish designer. I went to school in LAB Institute of Design and Fine Arts, Finland. There I studied transportation design for 4 years. I'm technically still studying there as I graduate at the end of this month, but I've already started my professional career at Koenigsegg as I don't have any more studying to do.


BP

When did you begin to have an interest in design? What sparked that interest? 


EM

I was always interested in drawing cars and drawing in general growing up. It was a hobby until in high school I started to take it more seriously to try and get applied to the school in Lahti.

 

BP

What excites you about design? Why does good design matter? 

 

EM

I think the most interesting thing about design is the relationship between functionality and aesthetics. As a designer you have to find a solution that works both from an aesthetical perspective and from a functional perspective. 

 

 

BP

Where did your interest in cars begin? What are some cars that inspired you? 

 

EM

I think the interest in cars began from watching Formula 1 and WRC growing up. As a kid I remember watching Kimi Räikkönen in his early McLaren days and Markus Grönholm in his Peugeot in WRC. Then Gran Turismo 4 came out and that became my favorite game for quite a while. The one car I've always liked since childhood till now is the 2004 Ford GT. 

 

BP

Are there any artists, or designers, or musicians, who have inspired you creatively? What about their work inspired you? 

 

EM

A recent inspiration for me was the Into the Spiderverse movie. The art direction in that movie is absolutely amazing. The colors and blend between hyperrealism and the cartoony style makes the cinematography so amazing to watch.

credit
esa mustonen

BP

Let’s talk about car design. To you, what are the basic elements of car design?

 

EM

The first thing that needs to be under control before designing any bodywork is the stance of the car. You can make or break a design just based on how the car stands on the tires. Once we have a clear understanding of stance we need to get the proportions right. So still not designing any bodywork, just understanding where to put the visual mass to get nice proportions. Wheel arches, roofline and stuff like this. At this stage we usually need to analyze the package and understand how we can best use that package that was given. Then we can move on to designing what the car actually looks like. The most impressive design is something that is simple, but eye catching. Sounds very cliche but it's true, at least for me.

 

BP

How do you identify a good car design? 

 

EM

With the points laid out on the previous question. So the car needs to have 1. right stance, 2. right proportions and 3. a simple, but eye catching aesthetic theme.

credit
esa mustonen

BP

If you had one, what part or element of the car is your favorite to design? 

 

EM

I actually like designing a lot of aerodynamic elements. So for example: figuring out an aerodynamic solution for an exterior part of trying to find an interesting floor/diffuser structure and so on.

 

BP

Tell us a little bit about your process, what steps do you take when it comes to actually designing the car?

 

EM

Depends on the project, but usually it starts by understanding what we want to achieve with the project. Just writing down stuff, what the focus should be, challenges and so on.

Then you usually do some research which then leads to ideation and sketching down some main ideas. Once there's enough ideas, you try to get a coherent main concept based on the ideas which at this point you already have something modelled in 3D. It's really important while sketching to also do 3D sketch modelling to test out the ideas in 3D, because a lot of the stuff we draw even if it's in 3 dimensional, you don't have a clear understanding whether the solution works or not unless you test it out in 3D. Then we do refinement of the model until we end up with a solution that works in all aspects.

credit
esa mustonen

BP

You work with Koenigsegg, and RAW Design House correct? Can you tell us a little bit about RAW Design House? 

 

EM

Yes, so RAW Design House is a part of Koenigsegg so we do all the Koenigsegg projects and then we also have client work outside of Koenigsegg.

 

BP

With many major technological advances happening over the past few years in automotive technology where do you see the future of automotive design going?

 

EM

I think regarding the process we will see a lot more machine learning driven tools used to expand our creative freedom and capabilities. There's already some applications, but a lot of the stuff still need a few years of ironing out for it to be easy enough for most designers to take advantage of. I think the same answer is for the cars themselves, we will see a lot more AI driven technology to help cars becoming more easier and better to use. Self-driving tech is the obvious example.

credit
esa mustonen

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 
— Will Durant

BP

What about the future are you excited about? 

 

EM

Space. I'm really excited for stuff happening with space travel and space exploration. It's already exciting to follow SpaceX as a private company emerging and becoming a major player in the space industry. Also the development of AI and machine learning are both pretty interesting to follow.

 

BP

Any advice for someone who is starting in automotive design?

 

EM

I think the one thing that has been really important for me is consistency. Everyday just assign a small period of time that you will practice sketching cars for example. It can be as low as 15min as long as you do it everyday. You want to keep your mind working things out on the things you want to improve. It's the slight edge, doing 15 mins of sketching doesn't make a difference if you just think of a single day, but it makes a massive difference when you think in the span of multiple years. 


This interview is a part of a series exploring the basics of automotive design, and the people who are designing the future of human transportation. If you enjoyed this interview please consider signing up for my weekly newsletter.

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