Interview with Sergio Loureiro da Silva

GCD met up with Sergio Loureiro da Silva in London this past week at the presentation of his GM project Jiao.  At Opel/Vauxhall’s Advanced Design studio in Rüsselsheim, Germany for 2 years now Loureiro da Silva has in a very short time defined himself as a designer in personal mobility at GM.  As part of the European team in charge of designing one of three concept pods for the Shanghai Expo 2010 he is in the enviable position of being a designer following his dream as it comes true.

A little about the project…

We met Loureiro da Silva at London’s City Hall during the presentation GM's new EN-V, Electric Networked Vehicle - a two-seat electric vehicle that was designed to address urban transport pressures such as congestion, parking, safety, and air quality.  The scenario put to us was set in 2030 China, where 80% of the population live in cities, pollution has miraculously vanished, congestion is a thing of the past, and our social networking has been mobilised to our vehicle all thanks to GM’s EN-V.  Three versions based on the same Bywire Skateboard autonomous electric platform the Jiao (‘Pride’), designed in Europe, the Miao (‘Magic’), designed in California, and the Xiao (‘Laugh’), designed in Australia whizzed along bright futuristic highways, parked themselves, and also become one’s office.  It is not a revolution in terms of originality, there have been many takes on ‘the pod’, but it is the commitment to bring the project to life that is most interesting.  It was understood that GM has been in close contact with the local government to move the project forward. 

Loureiro’s project Jiao, embraced the notion that this kind of vehicle, so small and personal, can be and must be a reflection of its environment, so, instead of assuming what the Chinese consumer likes, he asked them directly.   The result, Jiao “Pride”, based on a traditional Chinese Opera mask, is a uniquely charismatic and strong design proposal for the electrified future mobility of cities in China. 

How he got there…

GCD :  How did you get to be a designer at GM?

Loureiro da Silva :  During the graduation show at RCA in 2008 Mark Adams and Anthony Lo were visiting and they liked my project.  Then as they realised that most of my work focused on urban mobility they thought I would be the best candidate for the project that I am currently leading.

GCD :  What do you think are the most significant aspects of urban mobility?

Loureiro da Silva : That's a difficult question – to be free I think, to be able to get around with out time problems.  The EN-V is a good solution for this with autonomous parking and a small footprint it can alleviate congestion.  Also people who live in urban areas are usually well educated and have a certain wealth that they like to show.  It is important to show that the owner has a certain level of education and can define their status, like a watch for a man or shoes for women…there is a lot more fashion in cities.

GCD :  Do you think that as the automobile gets reinvented and more autonomous for city mobility, do we become less of a driver and more of a user?

Loureiro da Silva : We use cars to move from A to B so driving is not for in-town, its more fun to do something else.  With a vehicle such as Jiao you can enjoy the journey instead of driving and being stressed.

GCD : Back in the 80’s the Sony Walkman was a social isolator especially on public transport does EN-V do the same?

Loureiro da Silva : I like public transport because you can learn so much about a city and its people but it does not address all our needs.  There are still barriers for handicapped people, the ageing, and children.  This vehicle will complement, not isolate, people and will help to not overload public transport.  Also aesthetically you can show your taste with EN-V, and that will connect you to people with the same interests as you.

GCD : What do you think is the best achievement of green car design so far?

Loureiro da Silva : We have already taken the first step and now we are arriving to the second step where we are rethinking the entire idea of vehicles.  There is a corporate commitment and design studios are involved in the new future.

GCD : Do design studios lead this change?

Loureiro da Silva : The design teams try to show them (the company) how future transportation should be.  We (designers) are young and live in cities and have become detached from the car as an object; it is now more part of the urban context and should fit in better. 

GCD : What do you like about going to work everyday?

Loureiro da Silva : (Big smile!) I am realising my dream everyday, like a footballer!