Transport exhibition blends science fiction with design

Volkswagen, photo:

The Czech Republic's Design Centrum - located in Brno as well as Prague - has long promoted excellence in Czech design, issuing awards recognising new talent and running a number of programmes helping new designers break into the business. Along with those activities, the centre also regularly exhibits both professional as well as student work. A show now on at the centre highlights work by university students from the Fine Arts Academy in Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia.

Anyone interested in European design simply has to visit the Czech Republic's Design Centrum. The centre's headquarters in the centre of Prague boasts a modest but impressive exhibition area often featuring cutting-edge work. The latest exhibition is stimulating too. Titled "Transport Design Bratislava", it features pen and ink drawings, scale models, and computer animation that bring ultra modern vehicles to life. It's all very much five-minutes-into the future, echoing the worlds of the Matrix or Richard Morgan novels. Utility and sports vehicles, space-age trucks, even organic apparel - all reflect a definite cyberpunk chic.

The head of the studio, Stefan Klein, explained to me how the Bratislava academy strives for both a highly pragmatic but also highly imaginative approach:

"The idea behind the exhibit is connecting two things: the real world - represented by the 3-dimensional models, where we received professional support for example from Audi - and the imagined - the digital world. For students these days digital animation is the most natural thing. It's a standard tool, something they grew up with, so it really comes as second nature. For young people - and remember that they are young - digital animation really helps."

Animation in particular is where students' fantasies soar. Video clips show digital vehicles, resembling robotic crustaceans, moving through real industrial zones. But, that said, students' have experience in the world of real design as well. Peter Kisantal is a young designer who won an internship with Germany's BMW by designing - as he put it - "a car for a hero", inspired by Japanese Manga cartoons:

"The task was to create a sculpture that had something to do with BMW in general. In the end we had to transform this sculpture into a real car. The 1st and 2nd place finishers got internships at BMW. I spent half a year at the studio in Munich, where I got to see all the projects that they were working on and to see transport design from the other side."

Transport Design Bratislava lasts throughout the month of March.