Interview for MD Magazine, Bulgaria

Car Designer Interview - Miroslav Dimitrov

Q: After a successful career in some of the biggest automotive companies, you now have your own design studio. Who are your customers? What projects are you working on? Could you please tell us briefly about the most interesting projects of recent years?

A: When I worked as a car designer in the studios of the big automotive companies, I often felt like another cog in the big machine, whose contribution to the final product was minimal for a number of reasons. It’s different now; my clients include companies and individuals, some not even in the automotive business. In the several years since I have been completely independent, I’ve had the pleasure and rare opportunity to work on projects ranging from concept cars, go-karts, electric scooters, lighting fixtures, limited edition boutique cars, high-performance sports cars, bodykits, restomods, electric cars, medical furniture, and nanosatellites. The work is varied, with each project posing its own unique challenges. Unfortunately, as with major studios, not every promising project sees the light of day. One of the most interesting projects was for the Bulgarian company EnduroSat, a world leader in nanosatellite technology. I never imagined that I would be working on a product destined for space, but it turned out that even in this industry, dictated entirely by space science and engineering, there is room to contribute.

Q: What moment in your life and what event was decisive for your future successful career as an automotive designer?

A: There are moments in a person’s life when decisive choices are made, and sometimes it’s impossible to know whether those choices will lead to success – this clarity often comes after years. Back in 1997, at the age of 13, I decided to turn my passion into a profession, and everything seemed unattainable, let alone a successful end. In those years and specific circumstances (considering that at that time, a monthly salary in Bulgaria was 100-200 Euros, and overseas exotic jobs seemed not only a daydream but extremely naïve and impractical), considering my qualities and skills, the only realistic option for realization seemed to be architecture. But my late elementary school drawing teacher, Stoyan Dichev, could not accept that path for me. He believed I had too much talent to be fully utilized as an architect. He argued that one should follow their dreams and not waste their God-given gift – in my case, my talent – but use it for its intended purpose. He took a small group of us to the Art School in Kazanlak, where the basics of industrial design are studied – for me, it was one step closer to my still absurd dream. Years later, I realized his pivotal role in my life and how his refusal to let me waste my talent charted my path. Everything afterward was the struggle of a child from Yambol to achieve his dream. The road was difficult and unclear, but the direction was set. I am deeply grateful to him and will pass on this precious life lesson to the next generation.

Q: How do design teams work at major automotive companies? Do they have big teams with lots of designers? Is there competition between designers? Who decides which proposal is to be the winning design? How long does it take to develop a new model?

A: Most car manufacturers have their own design studios, and some even more than one. The need for more than one studio comes from developing products for the local and specific market as well as competing with other studios within the company to win a project. Teams vary greatly in terms of organization, number of people, and even activity. Let’s say a studio of 100 people is average in size and there are no more than 20 designers in it. The rest of the team are clay modelers, 3D CAD modelers and visualisers, engineers, modelers and some administration. But there are also large studios with over 200-300 people working together in one building or several buildings.

Yes, competition is not only there, but it is ruthless. Let’s not forget that we, who come from countries where such professions are not practiced, have to compete not only locally (England, Italy, France, Germany, USA, Japan, etc.) but globally, with everyone who aspires to prove themselves or join a particular company.

I’d love to say that the best solutions are chosen based on the merits of the design itself or what’s best for the product/company, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In theory, several designers compete for their proposal to be selected and developed by the team, but this is rarely the reality. As anywhere else, internal politics and intrigues play a significant role in deciding whose design moves forward. Ultimately, the design director of a studio is responsible for the studio’s output and its success. It’s also their responsibility to defend their team’s work to the company’s management. I’ve witnessed many instances where design directors yielded to pressure from senior management, resulting in products with numerous compromises that the company later regretted. The larger the company, the more convoluted these decisions become

The development time for a model varies depending on whether it’s a concept car, a facelift, or a new model. A concept car can take an average of 6-12 months, while a production car typically takes around 18-36 months. Every new model you see on the road was completed at least a year earlier, and its first sketch was made at least 3 years prior!

Q: How are consumer trends and opinions researched?

A: It is crucial for manufacturing companies to thoroughly understand and position their products in the market. Often, company objectives do not align with reality, leading to products that lack competitiveness, regardless of the marketing investment. Each project and design process should start with understanding the target consumers and the product’s function, emphasizing the importance of market research. Human psychology shows that asking 1000 people will yield 1000 opinions, and car design does not adhere to this approach. During certain stages of design development, car companies conduct “clinics” where individuals matching the target customer profile review multiple solutions and provide feedback. I personally doubt the effectiveness of this process, and an industry joke comes to mind: “What is a camel? Answer: a horse designed by a committee.” Designers are forward-thinking innovators; therefore, studies and statistics are based on existing knowledge or what’s known to people.

What is the most important feature when designing a new car today, in the 21st century?

A: I wish I could provide a single-word answer, but due to the product’s complexity and its indispensable role in our daily lives, it’s challenging to offer a concise response. Certainly, a modern car must be reliable, technologically advanced, environmentally friendly, and aligned with consumers’ lifestyles. However, it’s crucial to remember that cars in the 21st century are still used by humans. For instance, an interior solely featuring a tablet in the vehicle’s center is not only sterile but also impractical and lacks ergonomic design.

How do new technologies affect car design?

A: Regarding their influence on the work process, I can say that things have become more fast-paced. New technologies don’t inherently make us better designers; in fact, examining cars from the golden era of design in the 60s and 70s illustrates this point clearly.

However, when considering their impact on the final product, it’s a different story. Although new technologies sometimes interfere and create limitations (such as sensors, safety regulations, and more complex hardpoints), the advantages outweigh the drawbacks. A closer look at modern automotive headlights reveals how much technology shapes the end result. Similarly, in interiors, advancements in infotainment systems and CMF (colors, materials & finishes) have made significant strides in less than a decade. Simultaneously, the rise of electric cars and their construction, notably the skateboard platform, introduce possibilities that were previously non-existent

Q: What is more important for the success of a new vehicle model – impressive technical parameters or the emotional impact of the design?

A: It varies, sometimes both are essential. Consider Tesla as an example where, to put it mildly, design takes a backseat. In this market segment, we’re dealing with products featuring groundbreaking technologies that hold a specific purpose and market position, yet emotional purchase considerations, particularly with Tesla, are notably absent. Conversely, boutique sports car manufacturers prioritize factors like acceleration from 0-100km/h or horsepower, but these aren’t the sole drivers behind a customer’s decision – emotional elements play a significant role as well.

Q: How do you see the vehicles of the future being developed?

A: The evolution of cars as products and their application directly correlates with people’s lives, and these dynamics are subject to the global situation. We’re currently witnessing substantial geopolitical shifts and alterations in the world order, significantly impacting energy sources and subsequently altering our lifestyle. This will inevitably shape the automotive sector and determine the future of cars. Despite the European Union’s autocratic pressure for a complete shift to electric cars, EVs alone don’t provide the sole and ultimate solution for addressing pollution and CO2 emissions. Numerous promising technologies, such as hydrogen or synthetic fuels, hold tremendous potential. While vehicles will always be necessary, the choice of energy source will be pivotal. Equally critical is whether people will embrace change in their vehicle preferences, considering factors like living conditions, the need for autonomous driving, infrastructure availability, and more. We live in a highly dynamic world, making it immensely challenging to predict the exact form and features of future cars. However, one certainty remains: personal transportation will persist, though the extent and form it will take are uncertain

Q: How would you complete the sentence: “Good design is…”

A: It’s an amalgamation of numerous solutions, tasks, and challenges crafted into an aesthetically pleasing form for the end consumer. Unlike art, where the goal is often self-satisfaction, design involves creating a product that fulfills diverse requirements… and ideally contribute with something of yourself.

Q: How do you perceive the future of design?

A: Speaking realistically, our profession emerged during the industrial revolution, driven by the need to enhance and innovate the products surrounding us. Presently, design pervades a significant part of our daily lives, even reaching those unrelated to the field on a subconscious level. Design has become an integral aspect of modern life, and irrespective of future directions, it will hold a central position in various forms and dimensions of our lives.

This is the full version of the interview for: НАЧАЛО – – порталът на инфоманиаците

Charge Cars ’67 EV – Exterior Design

Charge Cars reimagined the 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback into a modern luxury EV, blending vintage allure with cutting-edge technology.

Let’s talk about the exterior design of the Charge Cars EV. n 2019, I was brought in to provide design services to the London based start-up company for their ambitious EV project: the 1967 Fastback Mustang, or also know as the ’67. Collaborating closely with the Design Director, I assumed a pivotal role in managing various aspects of the design development process. Utilizing my considerable expertise, I played a key part in shaping the direction of Charge Cars’ design studio, ensuring alignment with the project’s objectives and the company’s overarching vision.

Charge Cars EV
Charge Cars ’67 EV, Image Credits: Charge Cars

At the heart of the project was the company owner Denis Sverdlov’s ultimate vision: to modernize the iconic muscle car while preserving its authentic charm eternally. This required a delicate balance between innovation and tradition, with a focus on minimal exterior changes. During the initial sketch phase the Charge Cars EV, we proposed various changes to the car’s exterior, but Mr. Sverdlov’s brief was clear: create a modern interpretation of the iconic muscle car while preserving its original essence. This meant minimal exterior alterations, prioritizing execution and attention to detail. It wasn’t an easy task believe me!

charge cars exterior design sketch 01
charge cars exterior design sketch 06
charge cars exterior design sketch 02

During the process several bodies of the donor car were scanned and utilized partial reverse engineering techniques to optimize the vehicle’s exterior. Carbon fiber panels were strategically incorporated to enhance both aesthetics and performance, while modern features such as flush door handles and bespoke LED lights added a touch of contemporary flair. Notably, the innovative integration of the charging port into the side intake showcased our commitment to seamless design integration. The introduction of a new front grille proudly displaying the Charge logo further emphasized the brand’s identity, while modern wheels and wide tires underscored the vehicle’s formidable presence on the road.

More information about the Charge Cars EV and my involvement in the project you find on my website.

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Charge Cars ’67 EV rear end, Image Credits: Charge Cars
charge cars exterior design sketch 03

Интервю за MD Magazine

Автомобилен Дизайнер

След успешна кариера в някои от най-големите автомобилни компании, сега имате собствено дизайн студио. Какви са клиентите Ви? По какви задачи работите? Бихте ли разказали накратко за най-интересните проекти от последните години?

Докато работих като автомобилен дизайнер в студиата на големите компании, често се чувствах като поредното зъбно колело в голямата машина, чийто принос за крайния продукт е минимален поради куп причини. Сега е различно, клиентите ми са компании и частни лица, някои които дори не са в автомобилния бизнес. За няколко години откакто съм абсолютно самостоятелен, имам удоволствието и възможността да работя по проекти за концептуални автомобили, картинги, електрически тротинетки, осветителни тела, бутикови автомобили в лимитирана серия, спортни коли, тунинг, електрически автомобили, медицински мебели и наносателити. Работата е разнообразна, като всеки проект е предизвикателство по свой собствен начин. За съжаление, както в големите студия не всеки проект колкото и обещаващ да е той, вижда светлината на деня. Един от най-интересните проекти беше за Българската компания EnduroSat, които са световни лидери в наносателит технологиите. Никога не съм си представял, че ще работя над продукт който ще се изстрелва в космоса, но се оказа че дори и в този бранш диктуван изцяло от космическа наука има какво да се допринесе.

Кой момент от живота Ви и кое събитие бяха решаващи за бъдещата Ви успешна кариера като автомоблилен дизайнер?

Има моменти в живота на човек, в които трябва да направиш съдбоносен избор и понякога е трудно да знаеш дали избора ти ще е успешни или не – това става ясно след години. В далечната 1997-ма година, на 13 годишна възраст реших да превърна моята страст в професия, всичко изглеждаше много недостижимо, а за успешен край да не говорим. В онези години и конкретна ситуация, имайки предвид моите качества и умения единствената реалистична опция за реализация пред мен изглеждаше архитектурата. Но покойният ми учител по рисуване Стоян Дичев от основното училище не можеше да се примири с факта, че ще тръгна по този път. Неговото мнение беше, че имам прекалено много талант, който няма как да се оползотвори нацяло ако стана архитект. Той твърдеше, че човек трябва да следва мечтите си и не трябва да погубва таланта си, а да го използва по предназначение. Заведе малка група от нас до Художествената гимназия в Казанлък, в която се изучават основите на промишления дизайн – за мен това беше едно стъпало по-близко до моята все още абсурдна мечта. Години по-късно осъзнавам ролята му в моя живот и това, че неговата непримиримост с това да похабя таланта си, и желание да сбъдна мечтата си начертаха моя път. Всичко в последвие беше борбата на едно дете от Ямбол да постигне мечтата си. Пътя беше труден и неясен, но посоката беше взета. Благодарен съм му от сърце и ще предам този урок от живота на следващото поколение…

Как работят дизайнерските екипи в големите автомобилни компании? Многобройни ли са? Има ли конкуренция между дизайнерите? Кой взема решенията кое предложение да бъде реализирано? Колко време се разработва един нов модел ?

Повечето автомобилни производители имат свои дизайн студия, а някои дори повече от едно. Нуждата за повече от едно студио идва от това да разработваш продукти за местния пазар, както и да се конкурираш с другите студия в компанията за печелене на проект. Екипите варират много като организация, брой хора, че дори и дейност. Едно студио от 100-на човека се води средно по размер и дизайнерите в него са не повече от 20-на. Останалата част от екипа са глинени моделисти, 3D CAD моделисти, инженери, макетисти и малко администрация. Но има и големи студия с над 200-300 човека събрани в една сграда.

Да, конкуренция не само има, ами е безмилостна. Да не забравяме, че ние, които идваме от държави в които не се практикуват такива професии, трябва да се преборим не само с хората на местно ниво (Англия, Италия, Франция, Германия, САЩ, Япония итн.) ами и с всеки друг, който иска да докаже себе си под слънцето, или в конкретната компания.

Бих искал да кажа, че най-добрите решения се избират на базата на качествата на самия дизайн или кое е най-доброто за продукта/компанията, но за съжаление не винаги е така. На теория няколко дизайнера се конкурират, за това тяхното предложение да бъде избрано и те да бъдат ‘дизайнера’ на конкретната кола или продукт и в последствие това да се развие от екипа, но това само понякога е реалността. Както навсякъде, вътрешната политика и интриги играят ключова роля в това, чий дизайн ще бъде избран да продължи напред. В крайна сметка дизайн директора на едно студио носи отговорност за това, какво излиза от студиото и колко успешно се справя екипа му. Също така е негова задача той да може да защитава решенията на неговия екип пред ръководството на компанията. Бил съм свидетел на много случай, в които дизайн директори се “огъват” под натиска на техни колеги в ръководството на компанията, и като резултат се получава продукт с много компромиси, за което впоследствие компанията съжалява. Колкото по-голяма е компанията, толкова по-сложни и заплетени са тези решения.

Времето за разработка на един модел варира в зависимост дали работим над концептуален автомобил, фейслифт или нов модел. Един концептуален автомобил може да се направи средно между 6-12 месеца, а за серийно производство някъде към 18-36 месеца. Всеки нов модел, който виждате на пътя е бил вече завършен поне 1г по-рано, а първата скица по него поне 3г преди това!

Как се проучват нагласите и мнението на потребителите?

Дълга тема… Много е важно компанията производител да разбира и позиционира добре собствения си продукт. Не са малко случаите, в които заданията на компанията не отговарят на реалността и в последствие колкото и пари да похарчиш за маркетинг, продукта не е конкурентноспособен поради куп фактори. Всеки един проект и дизайн процес трябва да започват с това какво ще е потреблението и функцията на продукта, затова е много важно да се изследва пазара. Същевременно, човешката психология е такава, че ако питате 1000 човека, ще получите 1000 мнения, а дизайн на кола не се прави по този начин. В определен етап на проекта, понякога компаниите правят така наречените “клиники”, в които на случайни хора, чийто профил отговаря на таргетираната група от клиенти се показват няколко решения и се иска от тях да изкажат мнение, и посока. Аз лично съм много скептичен в ефективността на този процес и ще си позволя да ви кажа една Английска шега от индустрията. Какво е камилата? Отговор: кон, който е дизайн-ван от комитета. В крайна сметка ние дизайнерите сме хора иноватори гледащи в бъдещето, така че всички проучвания и статистики са базирани на това, което вече съществува, или е познато на хората.

Кое е най-важно при проектирането на нов автомобил днес, в 21 век?

Бих искал да отговоря с една дума но не мога. Поради сложността на продукта и неизменимата част в нашето ежедневие, който той заема с различните си функции и предназначение е изключително трудно да се отговори кратко, и ясно на този въпрос. Със сигурност, трябва да е надежден, технологичен, природосъобразен и в крачка с нуждите на потребителите и техния начин на живот. Но едно главно нещо бих подчертал – автомобила на 21-ви век все още се ползва от човешки същества и не трябва да забравяме това. Пример – един интериор, в който няма нищо друго освен таблет по средата е не само студен като усещане, ами и непрактичен, и не ергономичен.

Как новите технологии влияят на дизайна на автомобилите?

Ако говорим за влиянието им на процеса на работа, единственото което мога да кажа е че нещата са по-забързани. Новите технологии по самосебе си не ни правят по-добри дизайнери, даже напротив. Достатъчно е да се видят колите правени в златната ера на дизайна през 60-те и 70-те, и става ясно.

Ако говорим за това как влияят на крайния продукт е друга тема. Въпреки, че има много случаи в които технологиите пречат и създават ограничения (датчици, сигурност, сензори итн), ползите са повече от недостатъците. Ако се вгледаме от близо колко сложен е един автомобилен фар на съвременна кола, ще видите до каква степен технологиите диктуват крайния резултат. Същото е в интериора, където Infotainment системите и материалите направиха огромен скок в рамките на няма и 10 години. Паралелно на това, навлизането на електрически автомобили и начина по който те са конструирани – скейтборд платформата – създават нови възможности, които преди това не съществуваха.

Кое е по-важно за успеха на един нов модел – високите технически показатели или емоционалното въздействие на дизайна?

Зависи, понякога и двете. Ще ви дам пример с Тесла, където меко казано дизайна е на заден план. В този случай и пазарен сегмент говорим за продукти с нови технологии, които си имат своето предназначение и място на пазара, но не можем да говорим за емоционална покупка особено при Тесла. Същевременно има бутикови производители на спортни коли, при които ускорението от 0-100км/ч или конските сили не са най-важните фактори в избора, а нещата са чисто емоционални.

Как виждате бъдещето развитие на автомобилите?

Развитието на автомобилите като продукт и тяхното приложение е пряко свързано с живота на хората а тези фактори са подчинени на ситуацията в държавите, и света в който живеем. В момента сме свидетели на пренареждане на световния ред, като това има директен ефект върху енергоносителите и в последствие начина ни на живот. Това няма как да не засегне и автомобилния сектор, и това какви ще са автомобилите на бъдещето. Въпреки, че Европейският съюз притиска държавите да преминат изцяло на електрически автомобили те не са единственото и правилно решение. Имаме още много обещаващи технологии като водород или синтетични горива, които имат невероятно бъдеще. От превозни средства винаги ще има нужда, но енергоносителите ще имат ключов фактор в тяхното бъдеще. Не на последно място е това дали хората ще искат да сменят автомобилите си и колко често, къде живеят, ще имат ли нужда от автономно шофиране и дали условията го позволяват итн. Живеем в много динамичен свят и е много трудно да се предскаже какъв ще е автомобила на бъдещето. Едно нещо е сигурно, че ще има нужда от личен превоз, но дали това и до колко ще е под познатата ни форма е отворен въпрос.

Как бихте продължили изречението: „Добрият дизайн е……“

Съвкупност от много решения, задачи и проблеми поднесени на крайния клиент в естетически издържана форма. За разлика от изкуството, където единствената цел е да задоволиш собственото си его, при дизайна трябва да създадеш продукт, който трябва да отговаря на много изисквания…и в идеалния случай да дадеш нещо от себе си.

Как виждате бъдещето на дизайна?

Реалистично погледнато индустриалната революция съпътствана от нуждата за подобрения и иновации в продуктите които ни заобикалят са довели до появата на нашата професия. Дизайна заема все по-голяма част от ежедневието ни и дори хората които нямат никакво отношение към това, го осъзнават на подсъзнателно ниво. Дизайна е неизменна част от съвременния живот и накъдето и да тръгне бъдещето, дизайна ще има ключово място в нашия живот под всякаква форма и измерения.

Пълна версия на интервюто за: НАЧАЛО – – порталът на инфоманиаците

Open post BOXX RenderPro Review

Review: BOXX renderPRO

BOXX RenderPro Review: Many people make the wrong assumptions that all designers and creative people work on Mac computers – Totally Wrong! Despite their “Pro” name, MacBookPros and MacPros are just good looking consumer grade computers ideal for photographers, graphic designers and home enthusiasts. When it comes to demanding professional work however, we are talking about BOXX, Lenovo ThinkStation, HP Z series and DELL Precision series. Workstations like these are designed to be fast, very reliable and run under heavy loads for many hours, even days! BOXX needs little introduction to the creative professionals. They are computer specialist making some of the finest and fastest workstations for creative professionals.

What is renderPRO then? RenderPRO is a product made from BOXX computers designed to help the creative professionals doing a lot of 3D rendering while simultaneously working on their main workstation, in other words it’s a personal render farm/slave. For more information, please check out the video provided below.

Build & Design
If you’re familiar with certain BOXX products already you will find that the unit is cleverly designed to sits on top of your Apexx 4 or 5 workstation. It comes in the same black grained exterior colour to match your workstation too. It’s really good to look at and it feels solid! Unlike the mainstream computer vendors, all BOXX products feel solid and made with high quality and durable materials so no surprise here.
One thing to consider, this little beast is not meant to be used as a main workstation or stand alone computer, although it can be. The main purpose of this little but powerful unit is to sit on top of your workstation and render large 3D scenes while you’re working on your computer.

Some Useful Info:
For many years Autodesk Showcase was the main Realtime Visualisation software used in the Car Design Studios, however since Autodesk bought RT, VRED has become “the new thing” for realtime visualisations. It’s the software we use in the design studios for reviews, still shots and VR sessions too. I personally use VRED a lot to render my designs, so rendering in VREDis going to be the main topic here.

I have 4 computers that I use for work, but my main workstation is BOXX Apexx 4. The specs are: Intel i7-5960X overclocked to 4 GHz, 64GB DDR4-2133 RAM, NVMe PCIe SSD, NVidia Quadro M4000 etc. Why i7 and not Xeon one may ask? Because most of the applications we use in the design world are still single core/thread hence the highest the clock speed the better. Softwares like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe illustrator and Alias Design still use a single core and spending money on dual processor platform with multi cores will be quite unjustified baring in mind they are all designed to run at lower core speeds and are more expensive. Therefore the extreme i7 is the best option here. Then one might say, but what if you have to process a lot of 3D scenes on your machine, don’t you need a machine with dual processor setup? Yes you do, but if you try to do it all on one machine it’s often a bad idea because regardless of how many processors and cores you may have, they are never enough. Once you start a production rendering in V-Ray/VRED or similar software, the rendering engine will absorb all your cores and cpus and will leave no computer resources for you to continue your creative work. A high-quality image takes on average 2 hours to complete in VRED, therefore it is frustrating and inefficient to stop your work for two hours until your scene is rendered. Fiddling with the affinity on your processor cores is not ideal either as it slows down the rendering times and often makes the software not responding.

And finally to the point. What’s the best solution? Answer: Get the fastest singe processor computer you can get to do all your design work and send the 3D scenes to a render farm/slave! The guys from BOXX realised there is a niche for this kind of product and offered a neat and easy to use solution in the form of renderPRO. It’s portable and compact, yet very powerful computer designed just to do that – render in the background while you work. Those professionals having access to massive render farms probably don’t have to worry about this, but to those of us who don’t, it’s a great help!

Here are the specs of the renderPRO unit:

2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz. 14 cores each
64GB (4 x16GB) DDR4 ECC memory
NVidia Quadro K1200 4GB
240 GB 2.5inch SATA SSD
Win 10, 64 Bit
Price: £6,907 (excluding VAT)

The Test:
For the purpose of the test I tried a few different scenes to compare rendering times of the extreme i7-5960X vs dual Xeon renderPRO. Same scenes were rendered on both machines using the same settings, same resolution and same camera angles. Please check the results and times bellow:

Lotus F1 1978 VRED Rendering
Image 1, Lotus 78: VRED image | Resolution 4K, 4096 x 2160 px | 512 Image Samples.
Local: BOXX Apexx 4, Intel i7-5960X @ 4.0 GHz (8 core): 27:27 min
Cluster: BOXX renderPRO, 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz (28 core): 11:35 min
Ultima GTR VRED Render BOXX 01
Image 2, Ultima GTR: VRED image | Resolution 2560 x 1600 px | 512 Image Samples.
Local: BOXX Apexx 4, Intel i7-5960X @ 4.0 GHz (8 core): 15:05 min
Cluster: BOXX renderPRO, 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz (28 core): 6:23 min
Ultima GTR VRED Render BOXX 02
Image 3, Ultima GTR: VRED image | Resolution 2560 x 1600 px | 512 Image Samples.
Local: BOXX Apexx 4, Intel i7-5960X @ 4.0 GHz (8 core): 9:55 min
Cluser: BOXX renderPRO, 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz (28 core): 4:11 min
Ferrari LaFerrari 3D Model VRED
Image 4, Ferrari LaFerrari: VRED image | Resolution 2800 x 1477 px | 512 Image Samples.
Local: BOXX Apexx 4, Intel i7-5960X @ 4.0 GHz (8 core): 36:45 min
Cluser: BOXX renderPRO, 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz (28 core): 15:30 min
Porsche 918 Spyder 3D Model VRED
Image 5, Porsche 918: VRED image | Resolution 2560 x 1340 px | 512 Image Samples.
Local: BOXX Apexx 4, Intel i7-5960X @ 4.0 GHz (8 core): 9:36 min
Cluser: BOXX renderPRO, 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2680v4 CPU 2.4 GHz (28 core): 4:05 min

As good as the i7-5960X is, it’s tough to beat 2 Xeons with 28 cores in total! So on average the renderPRO is ~55-60% quicker than the i7-5960X powered workstation. A few minutes here and there probably sound insignificant, but in real life scenario when you have a massive queue of files to be rendered and if each rendering takes ~1 hour to complete, it will take 10 hours for the workstation and ~4-4.5 hours for the renderPRO…..and very importantly, you’ll be able to continue your work on the main workstation. Recently I completed a customer project involving dozens of VRED rendered scenes and the renderPRO was a great ally in achieving the goal. We all know how it is when the deadline approaches…

For those creative professionals working for massive companies and having access to big render farms, this very likely isn’t the droid you’re looking for! However, for those of us working in small teams and multitasking all the time, a solution like this is quite a breakthrough. One could probably argue that buying several desktop computers to use as render farms can do the same thing – yes, maybe, but it’s quite a hard work. You have to manage several more PCs, they take much more space and for sure they will be slower. In my own experience this is a very niche product addressing the problem we have working with heavy 3D scenes. It’s also small, portable and if accompanied with an Apexx workstation it makes a great pair for every creative professional out there working on his own or in a small studio.
My only criticism is the noise the renderPRO makes when fully loaded. The fans obviously need to cool down the two processors, but I wouldn’t mind if it was a little bit more quiet. Perhaps water cooling can be introduced for the next models.
So is it worth it? If you’re a casual/hobby 3D Artist then probably it’s too expensive to justify. If you’re working in a small team or studio you should probably know the benefits and value of such and efficient workflow.

– Very good solutions for the Creative Professionals.
– 2 processors with multiple cores make a difference when rendering scenes
– Easy to set up, you don’t need to be an IT expert.
– Compact and good looking device.
– Great Customer Support from BOXX.

– Noisy when under heavy load.
– Price. At the very top end the unit could cost £15,000. (My configuration sells for around £7000).

Lotus Elise Concept for Paris 2010

When I joined Lotus in January 2010, the groundwork for the showcars was already in full swing. Upon stepping into the studio for the first time, I was greeted by a bunch of tables positioned in the middle of the clay plates, where approximately 10 1/3 scale models were taking shape (as shown in the image below). Essentially, I found myself playing catch-up, as the 2D theme selection had already been finalized, and the designs were swiftly transitioning into 3D through the aid of clay models. Nonetheless, I was given the opportunity to propose a design for the future Lotus Elise Concept car – provided I could devise a compelling theme proposal in 2D and subsequently bring it to life in a scale model within the tight timeframe of 10 days before the theme selection for the full-size clay development commences. This task was to be undertaken with limited assistance on the clay model, owing to resource constraints.

Lotus Cars Design Studio, Scale Models
The Lotus Design Studio in Hethel, England. Picture is taken some time in January 2010. Credits: Lotus Cars magazine.

I was immediately hard at work staying till very very late in the design studio. In the 5 days prior to starting my scale model I managed to create a very modern and “avant-garde” looking theme which was then given the chance to be further developed as a 3rd scale model. You can see a small selection of the exterior sketches below.

lotus elise concept design sketches

For the first time since my days at Coventry University, I found myself dressing down and getting hands-on, loading clay onto the model buck due to limited modelling support available for my clay model. Nonetheless, working closely with the clay modelers, we did a strong proposal for the Lotus Esprit Concept car, which ultimately won the theme selection for full-scale development – despite facing the shortest timeframe to refine the theme in both 2D and 3D. Exciting news, indeed! However, as is often the case in car design studios, internal politics intervened, and another theme from a colleague was chosen to progress to full-scale development. The rationale? My proposal was deemed too bold and futuristic. Check out the scale model on the picture below.

Lotus Elise Scale Model
1/3 Scale model of the Lotus Elise Concept presented at the 2010 Paris Motor Show

My workload was far from being complete. There were numerous tasks ahead for the small design team, and I was promptly involved in the interior design of all the concept cars – simultaneously developing four seats, co-designing the Lotus Eterne Concept, which was later integrated into the mix, and everything in between.

lotus esprit concept seat design sketches by miroslav dimitrov
Design Sketches of various seat designs for the Lotus Concept cars.
lotus elise concept 01
2010 Lotus Elise Concept enjoying the California sun. Image Credits: Lotus Cars.
lotus elise interior
2010 Lotus Elise Concept – Interior. Image Credits: Unknow.

From Lotus: “The Lotus Elise you can buy now is still a fantastic car, make no mistake, Lotus remain very proud of it, but this is a natural progression for us moving forward. The Elise 2015 will also be class-leading in terms of performance and efficiency but it will do more than that it will take the Lotus Elise model to the forefront of its class across the board. The design of the Lotus Elise 2015 is perfect for the target market, it’s young, strong, confident, verging on ruthless, it mirrors the engineering and technology. It’s the next generation Elise for a new generation of Lotus drivers.”

Lotus Concept Cars, Paris Motor Show 2010
The entire range of 2010 Lotus Show Cars. You can see the Elise in the middle.

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