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Anticipating the future with DENSO

Anticipating the future with DENSO
Pierre-Antoine Masse and Adnane Benmaajouz’s “Denpod” concept

The professionalizing dimension of the teaching programs: one of the school’s founding principles.

Around 80 projects involving students and companies/local authorities take place each year to stimulate imaginations, open up the sphere of possibilities, conceptualize and innovate.

One of these projects was conducted with DENSO, the Japanese car equipment manufacturer, one of the leading suppliers of automobile systems and components in the world. Edouard Hougard, the group’s industrial designer, describes this cooperation.

“Versa” concept by Elsa Sainte-Claire, Marie Torrens and Alexandre Nicolle

Working with students to bring a fresh look

DENSO produces cutting edge technologies and products that focus on the environment, security and safety. The international group has a strong culture of innovation and invests nearly 9% of its income in research and development.
In light of this culture, Edouard Hougard, industrial designer in the group, decided to carry out a prospective study with our students. “As a student, I had the opportunity to be involved in several collaborations or partnerships with different companies. These experiences were really rewarding for all the students as well as for the partner, hence the idea of working with students today.”
Even though design is already very much present in DENSO with over 60 designers around the world, “we wanted a new perspective on our future society, and particularly the perspective of young creatives.”
The long-term objective: to apply this perspective or vision to new company concepts.

“M Shary” concept by Gaétan Chaudet and Alberic Chevallier

What will be the impacts of the new technical revolutions?

The topic suggested by DENSO was to support the emergence of autonomous vehicles which involved finding use scenarios centered on the impact of these changes on the user. What impact will it have on the vehicle interior? What impact will it have on comfort?
To answer these questions, L’École de design offered to accompany DENSO by putting in place a prospective study over 12 sessions organized in three phases from March to June 2018, led by 18 third-year students from BDes Transport Design.
Supervised by a course leader (Arnaud Balduc), a designer (Benjamin Walsh) and a sociologist (Jérôme Guibourgé), the students worked on the company values: Identity, Use and Technology.
As for the company, the project was carried out in partnership with the design team from Japan, which encouraged communication in English.

The prospective study combines innovation watch, development and concept

The prospective study is a long format collaborative project. It takes several months, is divided into 3 phases and thus requires the cooperation of all the actors during these pivotal moments. An ideal length for Edouard Hougard: “DENSO is a major international firm, with many ongoing projects which evolve over time to adapt to our company. A long project of a few months is pretty quick for us and seemed more far-reaching which is why we chose this format.
This gave us the time to formalize the concepts, but also allowed students to learn about project management.
The students carried out a monitoring and analysis phase, a creative development phase and a development phase in succession. The aim is to explore innovative solutions and to open up the sphere of possibilities in order to arrive at fine-tuned proposals following the phase 1 and 2 presentations.

“Deliveroom” concept by Nael Hanras and Guillaume Heck

Delivering the results in professional conditions

In June 2018, the students were able to propose their final concepts to the DENSO teams. It was the opportunity for them to be assessed in their phases of research, creativity, conceptualization and communicating their results. “We are satisfied with the first part of the research on our company’s future, even though the creative phase could have been a bit more in-depth for some.” This prospective project entails a great deal of research, both formal and conceptual, which serves to stimulate reflection in partner teams.
While at the same time tackling complex research questions within the company, it is also an opportunity for the company to have an external point of view, to get fresh impetus and a new perspective.
For the students, this type of project is essential in their construction as future designers in that it implies being able to manage a project over the long-term and conceptualize your thinking but also knowing how to communicate your results judiciously.

All of which are essential qualities in designers who must provide optimal responses to the needs of all organizations.