The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the apex automobile industry body, organised the 18th SIAM Styling and Design Conclave alongside the 16th Automotive Design Challenge (ADC) on 22nd March 2024 at Hotel Ramada Plaza by Wyndham, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

The theme of the conclave was “Designing for Aspiring India”, focusing on the future of vehicle styling and design in India. The event brought together several experienced automobile designers from India and abroad to share their ideas and inputs, for shaping the future of aesthetic design of vehicles.

The Automotive Design Challenge (ADC) 2023, an esteemed annual design competition organized by SIAM, was held during the conclave. The ADC served as a platform for aspiring automobile designers to showcase their talents and envision the future of automotive styling & design. Following a rigorous selection process, the top ten students were chosen to present their innovative concepts during the conclave.

Prashant K Banerjee, Executive Director, SIAM, highlighted the role of indigenous designs stating that, “For Rising India, the time is ripe for styling Indian Automobiles and Mobility with indigenous designs.”

In the welcome address, G Sathiyaseelan, Chairman, of SIAM Styling & Design Group, said, “The needs of Indian users are changing and so are design requirements. The mega-trends and technological path need to be reinvented. There is a need to democratize the mindset of Indian Designers. You become a designer you become a problem solver for the end-user.”

In the keynote address, Luciano D’ Ambrosio, Founder, LDA Design, Italy, said, “Besides EV, I believe there are many other opportunities for alternative fuels for thinking something different. The approach to making new cars has always been divided into the same design and different fuels. I like to differentiate between style and design. Style is fashionable; Design should be an innovation.”

The first session themed, “Technology Innovation as an Enabler for Design”, was opened by A Dhanasekaran, Assistant General Manager, Ashok Leyland, further adding to the session, Nikhil Rane, Head – Design & Innovation, Adient India, said, “Seat is a core part of automobiles. For every important person sitting is important. You look at comfort differently, from a non-driving perspective.”

Debrup Sanyal, Design Studio Manager, Estech India, S Anbuchezhian, Head – D&ME, S&R and IP, Apollo Tyre, Shweta Kumari, Head – Colour Designer, Kansai Nerolac, and Sathish Kumar, Manager – Application Engineer India & SE Asia, Stratasys, were also present in the session.

The second session themed, “Designing for Global Aspirations” began with an address by Pankaj Dhamane, Sr. General Manager, Mahindra & Mahindra. Further, the session saw participation from Ferdinand Klauser, Managing Director, KISKA Shanghai, who said, “We want to be practical on where to play what to play and how to execute. We as designers are change-makers and must make a positive impact.”

Dinesh Raman, Senior Design Manager, KISKA Shanghai, said, “The automotive industry is a key driver of economic growth and a favourable partner for manufacturers. Economic shifts provide growth to a country. Indian consumers are increasingly becoming aware of what the brand stands for.”

Rajesh Gogu, Head – Exterior & Advanced Design, Maruti Suzuki India, said, “Understanding the market is always important and finding opportunities is the key. The Auto industry is growing radically in the country, with a growing inclination towards SUVs.”

Utkarsh Biradar, Chief Designer, Tata Elxsi, said, “As the consumer spends increasingly, comfort becomes an important aspect. Bespoke personalization has been demanding. Brands are audible. Every touch, every door shut gives a vibe of the vehicle. A car knows more than the user does with the number of sensors that are going into it.”

The third session was a panel discussion themed on, “Fostering Industry-Academia Partnership” moderated by Saurabh Singh, Head – Design, Maruti Suzuki, India and saw participation from Prof. Vipul Vinzuda, Head – of Transportation Design, NID Ahmedabad, Prof. Thomas Dal, Director – Dean, Strate School of Design, Alka Madhan, Director Strategy, MIT Institute of Design, Bikash Jyoti Biswas, Head – Design, Ather Energy and G Sathiyaseelan, Chairman, SIAM Styling & Design Group. The participants highlighted the importance of collaboration between the industry and academia leaders on strategies to support and nurture young designers, emphasizing the importance of talent and innovation in driving the automotive sector forward.

The conclave concluded with the announcement of the top three winners of the ADC 2023, showcasing the best-emerging talent in automotive styling & design. Likhith Sarvareddy from Strate School of Design was declared the first prize winner followed by Vinayak Tiwari from Ajeenkya DY Patil University and Bhujang Sakore from National Institute of Design who emerged as the first and second runner-up.

The diverse audience, including designing practitioners from Automobile OEMs, Component Suppliers, Technology Suppliers, Design Students, Faculty Members and other stakeholders, contributed to the vibrant exchange of ideas and perspectives throughout the event.


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