PRECISION AND CREATIVITY CONVERGE
Precision and creativity – a contradiction in terms? Not as far as Kabaň and Smýkal are concerned. Kabaň explains: “Precision and creativity are two different approaches, like mathematics and art. And yet they converge at some point. After all, there are mathematical elements in art – proportions, for example.”
“Form is design, and the design is the brand,” agrees Marek Smýkal, citing the example of the characteristic curve on the hood of all Škoda models that emphasizes the brand logo. The 39-year-old joined the Czech carmaker straight from university. That was 15 years ago. Today, as Head of Tools, Jigs and Fixtures, he is responsible for ensuring precise measurements, clean edges and immaculate surfaces.
INTERFACE TO PRODUCTION
Kabaň and Smýkal have now moved on to discussing body shapes and contours using design sketches that the Chief Designer has brought along. “Our specialists also have to be extremely creative every time they implement a designer’s blueprint,” says Smýkal. This also involves constantly finding new avenues to explore, for example in the case of design or development ideas that are difficult to implement in production. The tooling specialist knows only too well: “We have to respect physical limitations such as those of materials in the forming process. Exceeding them would mean having to compromise on quality, which is not an option for us.” The Chief Designer nods in agreement. He greatly values the technical potential of tool making – even though it inevitably limits the scope of design work at times.
By now, Kabaň and Smýkal have made their way from the tool making plant to the state-of-the-art Škoda Auto Design Center. Here, a permanent team of almost 70 designers work on a constant stream of potential new design elements. The outer shells, interiors, colors, paints, upholstery material – even the accessories – of new cars are designed here in accordance with strict esthetic and functional requirements. It takes at least two years for the work of the Škoda designers to reach the customer.
The experts from the tool making plant are involved in the development process from the very beginning. Interaction between designers and production specialists – such as the current discussion in Jozef Kabaň’s office – is routine these days. Smýkal: “My team examines the feasibility of the designs at a very early stage. They evaluate whether the forms and surfaces developed by Jozef Kabaň and his people can actually be produced and, if so, under what conditions. Based on the designs, we use special hardware and software to perform simulations and then get back to Technical Development with our feedback.”
This interaction between design and tool making is a major factor in Škoda’s success. The two areas work together throughout the entire Volkswagen Group – irrespective of brand or national boundaries – allowing them to draw on a vast body of experience. In view of this, coordination specialists Marek Smýkal and Jozef Kabaň¡ feel well equipped to meet Škoda Auto’s ambitious growth targets. Kabaň¡ : “We build cars for the whole world – and with great success. This is because we know that the world is not an abstract concept, but is full of real people.” It is for them that Kabaň¡ is designing his new Škoda models and for them that Smýkal is tailoring the bodywork: “Just as a gentleman’s outfitter custom-makes suits for his clients, we adapt our cars to the needs of our customers in different countries. Right down to the very last detail. That’s what it’s all about.” Precision and perfection.