Interview With Michele Albera On Pagani And IED Master Students Unique Collaboration

Every year, students studying Transportation Design at IED Torino take on a big final project. This time, they got to work with Pagani Automobili, a famous company in the automotive world. Together, they created something special: a new hypercar concept called Alisea celebrating the 25 years of another famous Pagani car called Zonda, and it also shows what it might look like in the future. The students from IED Torino and the experts from Pagani worked together on Alisea. They mixed new ideas with the history of Pagani cars. It took 24 students lots of hard work and many months to finish the project. Alisea is like a modern version of the classic Zonda, but it also sets the stage for the next 25 years.

Disclaimer: This is an official collaborative project between IED Turin and Pagani Automobili

Alisea was designed by the IED Torino Master’s in Transportation Design class of 2023:
Andrea Boffa (Italy), Enrichetta Maria Borsano (Italy), Ludwig Brenninkmeijer (The Netherlands), Daria Butenko (Russia), Andrea Caibugatti (Italy), Joan De La Plata Perich (Spain), Mausam Pramod Dhande (India), Aayush Dutta (India), Sharang Kulkarni (India), Txomin Munitxa Arrinda (Spain), Yash Vishnubhai Panchal (India), Simon Rapisarda (Australia), Hariprasad Uthaman Chukkasseri (India), Jayakrishnan Anandan (India), Sara Cancelli (Italy), Pablo Alejandro Hidrobo Lapuerta (Ecuador), Pritish Karmi (India), Tomas Knaze (Slovakia), Vaibhav Krishna (India), Ya-Hsin Liu (Taiwan), Luis David Parra Rubio (Mexico), Davide Patruno (Italy), Jincheng Tian (China), Rongning Xue (China)

Technical sponsors: Pirelli, OZ Racing, Lechler
Alisea was manufactured by, MINTT, AM Costruzione Modelli, Raitec, and Italian Design Wrap

We spoke to Michele Albera - Transportation Design Master Coordinator on this year’s Master Thesis where students had a chance to work with Pagani Automobili and created a new hyper-car concept called Alisea celebrating the 25 years of another famous Pagani car called Zonda.

Mitsubishi Moonstone by Master’s in Transportation Design class of 2022

Automotive Design Planet: What inspired the design of Alisea, and how does it pay homage to the iconic Zonda while embracing futuristic elements?

Michele Albera: Alisea is not a remake of the Zonda, but the result of a long analysis of the elements that made the first Pagani a groundbreaking masterpiece. We worked in order to abstract and distil the points that were innovative and became a reference for the car design world, starting from the car architecture, composed by a very pushed-to-the-front two-seater greenhouse, a mid-engine v12 and the incredible result of proportion with no compromise. The best declination of the Le Mans to a road-legal vehicle, designed for the visual and emotional pleasure of the owner.

ADP: Can you elaborate on the collaboration process between IED Torino and Pagani Automobili in bringing Alisea to life, and how did it contribute to the innovation of automotive design?

Michele Albera: Pagani never worked with a school, they never released a concept car before and above all, they never put Mr Pagani's name on the bonnet of something that Horacio did not design personally before Alisea. There was for sure a lot of pressure on this project also because Horacio Pagani himself wanted to follow it, give feedback and revisions to arrive at the best result that could satisfy the new and old Pagani’s fans.

We worked like a studio (as much as I do every day outside IED), to provide a complete design service to satisfy this incredible customer. At the same time we wanted to create a counter-trend object with a pure volume made almost completely of positive sections, with no wings, extreme openings (the air intakes are on the upper part like on the Zonda) or floating elements. A purity that seems to be lost recently.

 Lorenzo Benzoni, a student of IED Turin won the 3rd prize at the latest Quantron Design Award 2024

ADP: Could you discuss the significance of Alisea's unveiling at the Reggia di Venaria and its reception among automotive enthusiasts and industry professionals?

Michele Albera: The unveiling of a concept car like Alisea at a prestigious venue like the Reggia di Venaria undoubtedly generated a significant buzz among automotive enthusiasts and industry professionals but it was mostly a way for us to connect to the Italian history of art and architecture, very appreciated by Horacio Pagani and us. Everything we do, everything we design starts from culture and research and this was a brilliant idea by IED, that organized the event, to convey these values to the audience. We also had the event in live streaming for the global audience and you can still see it online. It was a great moment to discuss ideas and perspectives with Mr Pagani and Mr Balbo.

ADP: How did the fusion of art and science, as exemplified by Leonardo da Vinci's philosophy, influence the design process of Alisea, particularly in terms of its essential nature and dynamic silhouette?

Michele Albera: The idea of art and science is similar to my obsession with formal and functional aspects. None of the two can live without the other. An object, whatever it might be, has to satisfy in the best way possible aesthetics and its purpose. I would define Alisea as an honest car. Everything you see has a function and is not purely due to our stylistic ambition. we wanted to get to the pure essence of the object, like the majority of the cars of the 60s, where the simplicity helped reading and understanding the vehicle, without the need of any design addition. Even in this, we didn’t follow trends or accepted compromises.

ADP: In what ways does Alisea represent the future of hypercar innovation, and how does it reflect the collaborative effort of passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds?

Michele Albera: There are three main points which Alisea embodies and that I would like to see in the future. Bruno Munari used to say “Complicating is easy, simplifying is difficult “. I hope that purity and elegance can become a new trend in hypercars. It is very difficult to keep the object away from anything unnecessary, because during the design process it gets easy to add some elements that work on a monitor but that ruin the real object. Another thing is the desire not to empty the frontends of this typology of cars.

Cars like the Zonda or the F40 showed that it was possible to have incredible faces and that there is no need to engrave the volume in the front. The third thing is about the abuse of lighting that we are witnessing in the car design scene. We decided to adopt small lamps with good efficiency not to rely on graphic elements to make the car “interesting” or recognisable.

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ADP: What were the primary design challenges encountered during the creation of Alisea, and how were they overcome to maintain the balance between tradition and innovation?

Michele Albera: We wanted to make an analogical/technological car. I think the most important challenge in this path was the desire not to follow nowadays trends as I explained. It was risky because you can take an easy road and follow the market leaders and somehow, get an “ok” feedback from the audience, or do the opposite. We wanted to avoid the over-design look and the design by addition.

There were also things that we wanted to be on the car, like the cut on the surfaces above the rear wheel arches that lowered the center of gravity and introduced a new element in the scenario. Mr Pagani did not want them at the beginning but then he enjoyed the result. He said “è venuta molto bene. è bella, molto bella”. (It came out very well, it is beautiful, very beautiful.) It was a great moment.

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ADP: Can you shed light on how the collaboration between IED Torino and Pagani Automobili influenced the design process of Alisea, particularly in integrating diverse perspectives and expertise?

Michele Albera: First of all this year students were incredibly clever and demonstrated great sensibility along with a deep technical knowledge. Every time Pagani Automobili or us gave feedback they were creating iterations with great improvements. They worked exactly like you work outside at a professional level. The only difference this time was the fact that the main person to satisfy was the founder and owner of the company and a real living legend. IED is always working with top car brands (Alpine, Suzuki, Lamborghini, Ducati, Pininfarina, etc.), but this time there was a human component that was unique.

ADP: Considering the significance of Alisea as a futuristic interpretation of the Zonda, how did the design team ensure that the hyper-car retained the classic appeal of its predecessor while introducing vanguardist design elements?

Michele Albera: As I explained, the architecture and the powertrain are a classic starting point. We wanted to preserve this heritage and take care of an important legacy and tradition. The main feature we integrated to look at the future is the surfacing. The treatment of the body comes directly from the industrial field and takes inspiration from pages of the history of design such as the Brionvega production by Marco Zanuso and Richard Sapper. This combination, along with the lighting that is minimal and well refined, gives a very personal taste to Alisea. Some journalists said that we combined a 60s purity to some Daniel Simon’s approach to the bodywork. We took it as a great compliment.

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ADP: Could you discuss the role of the Master Course in Transportation Design at IED Torino in shaping the creative process behind Alisea, emphasising how theoretical knowledge was translated into practical application to push the boundaries of automotive design?

Michele Albera: The master in transportation design of IED Torino is unique. Every year for the thesis we work with a world renown brand to realise a physical concept car together. Our teachers are all professional designers, actually working in the industry and come from the main studios we have in Turin (Lamborghini, Italdesign, Jeep, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Tata, Suzuki, etc.) We teach a lot of technical subjects (Alias, Blender, Photoshop, Figma just to mention some) and we work a lot on theory too (aerodynamics, vehicle setup, Colour, Material and finish…). The design subjects we have and especially the thesis project are the best incarnation of all the knowledge we give the students. It is very rare to work on a real concept car even professionally and we are very proud to represent this global uniqueness. It is an exceptional way to demonstrate creativity inside the boundaries of feasibility respecting the brand identity and vision.

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