|Renault unveiled a striking blue concept car by Ross Lovegrove, a British furniture and product designer, at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano furniture show on Monday. The electric city car, dubbed the Twin’Z, has center opening doors and is dotted, outside and in, with hundreds of LEDs. The project was the idea of Laurens van den Acker, the Renault design director.
“The aim was to break down the boundaries between the world of an object whose calling is to be in movement – the automobile – and that of furniture,” Mr. Van den Acker said of Mr. Lovegrove’s involvement in the design. “There are numerous bridges between the work of Ross Lovegrove – which combines beauty and intelligence thanks to an approach inspired by the living, natural world – and the strategy we have been working on for three years now at Renault.”
In a media release, Mr. Van den Acker said that Mr. Lovegrove’s approach ran contrary to what people might expect, which allowed him, figuratively of course, to invigorate inanimate objects. A longtime car buff, Mr. Lovegrove had a tiny Audi A1 installed in his London studio for several years.
This is the fifth concept vehicle since Mr. Van den Acker arrived at Renault. From the start, beginning with the Dezir concept, he called for a new design approach. Mr. Van den Acker has offered the human life cycle, depicted in a flower, as a model of Renault design. Imbued with a French character, the flower’s petals are marked love, work, family, exploration and, finally, play, which is assigned to Mr. Lovegrove’s car.
The concept’s carbon-fiber body is covered with distinctive bold blue paint. Not just any blue, but International Klein Blue, the amped up hue registered by the French artist Yves Klein in 1960. There is no dashboard as such, only a control screen, like a giant remote control. The interior shapes and seating are defined with LED lighting, taking on the appearance of a topographic map. A set of 18-inch aluminum wheels look like they’ve grown onto the car organically or represent some sort of evolutionary family tree. Michelin created special tires to match.
Then there’s the mechanical: the rear drive Twin’Z, which is equipped with four lithium-ion battery packs, has a projected range just short of 100 miles. Its 50 kW motor produces 167 pound-feet of torque. Just under 12 feet long, the car is similar to Renaul’s production electric, Zoe.
Mr. Lovegrove’s company worked on the design with Renault studios; some of the details were created with 3-D printers. At Renault, the project was overseen by Mr. van den Acker along with Axel Breun, the company’s director of concept cars, and Raphaël Linari, a designer.
Mr. Lovegrove, or Captain Organic as some call him, is known for furniture he designed for Knoll and other companies, as well as his lighting designs for Artemide. He is the subject of Supernatural: The Work of Ross Lovegrove, a book with a forward written by Paola Antonelli, design curator of the Museum of Modern Art.