Talking to the joint winners of the Polestar Design Contest

One exterior design award. Two winning submissions. One supercar. This is a story of coincidences, collaboration and… well, cars. Welcome to the Polestar Design Contest 2022.

Swapnil Desai and Devashish Deshmukh are design students, flatmates, and Indian expats living in Paris. They are also joint winners in the exterior category in the Polestar Design Contest 2022. A series of coincidences and hours of collaboration set the two on the path to a joint victory and a joint design.“The mother of all coincidences”The two young designers both moved to Paris in September of 2021 to study for their Master’s at Strate School of Design in Paris. On the first day of school, Swapnil checked the list and saw that a person from his home state in India was his new flatmate. This is, according to Swapnil, “the mother of all coincidences” and the first of many that chart the course of their journey.  Come application time for the Polestar Design Contest 2022, Swapnil worked on his design while travelling in Europe, while Devashish spent his summer working from India. This leads us to the second coincidence: the two flatmates were unaware that the other had entered the competition. Fast forward a few months and they’re both back in the student dorms. Devashish is the first to see the e-mail from the Polestar designers and wasted no time in getting across the flat to break the news. But as fate would have it, Swapnil had received an e-mail stating his design had won too. And so, a phase of intense collaboration commenced as the two design students – and the Polestar design team – began merging the best of Swapnil’s design, dubbed “Timeless performance” with the best of Devashish’s “Lynx.”Functionality meets performanceThe decision to become a designer is yet another coincidence, says Swapnil. “It just kind of happened. I was observing a friend and senior designer, who now works at Volvo actually, and seeing the process of making a car gave me much joy, so I decided to pursue it.” But getting into the area of car design was a completely different matter. “Cars are complex products with the power to change the way we live, how we move around, how we interact, and so on. So, my interest in cars comes mostly from the potential that they have in making an impact in society. That’s something that I can relate to as a person – and designer.” For Devashish it’s always been about performance. Ever since he was a child watching car manufacturing videos, he has been fascinated by everything related to speed and performance. “As soon as I saw the word performance in the brief, I knew I wanted to join the Polestar Design Contest. It’s something that has been my passion since childhood, sports cars, hypercars, that type of thing, and so I thought this was a good opportunity to design one myself,” says Devashish.

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Timeless Performance, Swapnil Desai.
At first, I thought this would just be like any other contest, like one-directional, but the Polestar Design Contest is very different from other competitions. It’s much more of a give-and-take situation.
Swapnil Desai, design student

Collaboration is the name of the gameAlthough ‘Performance’ was in the design brief, collaboration played a major role from the moment the designs were shortlisted until the award was presented. And while it is unique to share the top spot in a competition, sharing the workload was not an issue for the aspiring designers. “It was quite interesting to work with the Polestar Design team and see the two designs come together as one, by merging the front of my design with the rear of his design. That’s how the industry works, you know, all the designers working together. It's all about teamwork,” says Devashish when talking about the collaboration phase.More than anything they view it as a learning opportunity, rather than a competition. According to both students, one of the most valuable things about the experience was getting feedback from professional designers on their designs, knowledge which will last beyond the timeframe of the contest. “At first, I thought this would just be like any other contest, like one-directional, but the Polestar Design Contest is very different from other competitions. It’s much more of a give-and-take situation. I mean, having professional designers give you constant feedback is such a motivating thing for us young designers,” comments Swapnil. ...and beyond Going forward the young designers hope to continue collaborating, learning from each other and others, while developing their own styles. “I think it would be great if we can keep sharing our work with each other, even if we’re not working on the same project,” says Swapnil. “When sitting alone thinking about a design, there are only so many ideas you can have. When working together there are so many more ideas to explore.”When asked about their future careers, the two freshly minted award-winning designers said that car design is where they want to be. “My passion is designing cars. I want to find a brand that is design focused, that cares about aesthetics, while improving as a designer by working together with other great designers. And one day, when I’m driving with my family, I want to be able to say 'Look, there is the car that I designed.' That’s the dream,” says Devashish.For Swapnil it’s about continuing to explore different destinations and styles. Although he has already worked with the Polestar Design team, a Japanese car maker, and will soon be going on to work with a French brand, there is still much to learn in terms of how different brands approach design, he says.  “The goal is to keep exploring as much as I can and to learn from everyone I meet,” Swapnil concludes.

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