Renault and British designer Ross Lovegrove have collaborated to create the Twin’Z, a concept car which is said to bring together two worlds where design plays an important role: the world of furniture and that of the automobile.
As the ‘Play’ petal of Renault Design’s life-cycle ‘flower’, Renault’s latest concept car is a fun, modern, artistic take on the city-car which plays on emotions and excites the senses. It draws its inspiration from the heritage of some of the French brand’s most emblematic models, such as the Renault 5 and Renault Twingo.
Lovegrove’s personal vision of the automobile takes its inspiration from the world of nature, and the result combines an unprecedented play on light and organic forms to make the Twin’Z an endearing, almost living object.
The Twin’Z is the fifth concept car to result from Renault’s design strategy which is founded on the notion of the human life cycle, and which is represented as a six-petalled flower. This strategy fits perfectly with the brand’s determination to accompany its customers during the key phases of their lives and in their individual aspirations, thanks to the diversity of the its range.
Ross Lovegrove’s approach drew Renault’s attention on three main accounts, ie the exterior design of his sensuous, poetic creations; use of light and how it is projected; and his light, simple style and his work on fibres and textiles.
His team was tasked with providing the finishing details to the Twin’Z’s bodywork (bumpers, lights, grilles, LED roofscape, wheels) which was based on themes provided by Renault Design. His studio was also responsible for designing the interior, including the choice of colours and materials, in conjunction with Renault.
The Renault and Lovegrove teams expressed their ideas using ultramodern digital design tools in order to carry over elements of formal design language that have their source in nature and biological structures to the automobile.
Technically, the Twin’Z is an electric city-car. Thanks to its architecture, which features a rear-mounted motor and batteries located beneath the floor, it frees up exceptional cabin space and delivers high quality handling that makes it a delight to drive.
It takes its inspiration as much from the heritage of the first-generation Twingo as it does from that of the Renault 5, two superminis which broke new ground in ways that truly marked their time. However, the Twin’Z also takes us into a new dimension with its ‘dematerialised’ interior which combines simplicity with refined details and technology, backed up by the sophistication of its digital systems.
Although only 3.62 metres in overall length, the car’s proportions, high waist-line and the way it sits squarely on its 18-inch wheels, suggest robustness, reassuring protection and quality. Its all-electric, rear-wheel drive architecture enabled the wheels to be pushed out to the car’s extreme corners to provide it with a solid grounding and large platform. This also gave the car a unique signature and outstanding cabin space in relation to its compact footprint.
The grille design creates a vortex effect which channels airflow and minimises turbulence to optimise aerodynamic performance. The same motif has been embossed into the rear bumper as an echo of the lighting signature.
The striking blue livery pays tribute to the 20th century French painter Yves Klein. The satin finish gives a pure skin to the body which appears to be coated, almost anodised, rather than painted, suggesting that the pigmentation is inside the body and not applied. The soft clear-coat finish produces a velvet-like feel, while a certain iridescence lifts the car’s ‘electro-natural’ appearance.
The Twin’Z’s front and rear doors are hinged at the front and interior to the outside world, opening electrically. This enables a compact car to break free from the absence of a central pillar which is good from the design standpoint.
The wheels and tyres have been designed as a single entity. The wheels themselves feature a glowing green finish and their design is based on intelligent growth structures inspired by nature. The solid central core splits into slender branches which strike out towards the rim. The tyres, which were developed specifically by Michelin, continue this pattern to provide a unity between the two functions.
As a consequence, the wheel is perceived as a whole rather than a simple juxtaposition of distinct elements. This design was made possible by parametric modelling and 3D printing in order to achieve an eye-pleasing structural unity.
The conventional door mirrors have been replaced by an integrated video camera that has been aerodynamically ‘liquefied’ within the body. A crystal rear spoiler not only generates extra downforce but also completes the aesthetic flight of the car in a dynamic sense, creating visual lift and a sense of lightness.
The rear clusters have made way for LED lighting incorporated into the glass. This concept permits a host of new ideas. For example, when the driver presses on the brake pedal, the burst of the brake lights climbs gradually towards the roof, for enhanced visibility and safety.
The cabin exudes an impression of simplicity that provides a sense of unity and space. With no B-pillar, there’s a more panoramic view of the cabin, creating a sense of purity and lightness. The purity of the interior’s lines is picked out by a voluptuous path of light. These milled bi-colour lines circulate round the entire cabin to describe a flow of energy, lighting up the interior with a luminescent green that maps its topographical forms.
The four lightweight seats have been rendered as small as possible, providing support whilst being lightweight and dematerialised. Their green frames appear to grow naturally from the floor and have been upholstered in a 3D woven, self-cushioning, lightweight blue textile which is both waterproof and flame-resistant, yet which still breathes. The seat frame is visible behind the weave to create an almost aerial feel.
“From the start, the intention was to build on the heritage of luxury and grace associated with France and to express it in a modern way, while at the same time creating a link between Renault’s past, present and future,” said Ross Lovegrove.
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