Russell Carr: What I've learned
When you start sketeching a car you start with the front three quarters view of it, because that is the most memorable view of a car.
Designers tend to be a bit obsessive over little intricacies. It could be the finishing on the interior of a restaurant you are in, or a little detail on the car you are driving behind. The other day, I was in a shop and the décor was done really nicely with distressed copper and acid green paint. I thought it looked fantastic so I started taking photos of it. I could see other customers looking at me as if I was a bit mad.
A sports car has to be visually seductive. There is no rational reason to buy a sports car, you are buying it out of desire. So it is important that it looks good.
Race cars have lots of wonderful technical solutions. When I first joined Lotus Cars in 1990, the Formula One team was still in existence and there was some cross pollination between the us and the motorsport design teams. We would ask ourselves ‘is there a technical or functional reason it is on the car?’, if not, can we be influenced by them to create something more beautiful? We took that approach when designing the new Lotus Evija, particularily with regards to how to manage the airflow both over and through the car. We describe the design of the Evija as being ‘carved by air’.
Cars and drawing are my two passions in life—so it’s lucky I ended up where I am. Being involved in landmark projects like the Lotus Evija—the manufacturer’s first electric-powered Hypercar—not only gives me a huge sense of pride, but is also just really fun.
My father used to work for Mercedes-Benz. They used to have an in-house magazine called In Alle Welt and there was a section where children could draw a picture of a car and submit it to be published. It was always the first bit of the magazine I would look at. At that time Mercedes had just done the C111 concept car with a rotary engine—which was very modern and slick—and I started drawing it obsessively.
Designs tend to take time to evolve, but sometimes someone can just have a moment of magic with a sketch and it all goes from there. When we were designed the Evija, one of our designers sketched the rear view, creating broad shoulders and the two striking Venturi air ducts with the lights around the outside of them—that was just a moment of inspiration, which evolved a lot of other ideas.
The amount I sketch is fairly limited these days due to other responsibilities, but if I do need to, I tend to just use a simple biro and paper. These days most of the sketching is done on photoshop, with the designers using Cintiq sketching tablets allowing them to sketch right on to the screen.
My photoshop techniques are sadly not at the level of those guys, but I still have the ability to draw a good looking car.