Interview with TopiD-Hub Founder on a new video streaming platform for Auto & Moto Designers

Jun 21, 2024

Every auto and moto OEM release, from custom ones to restomods, race cars, and motorcycles that we admire, shares a crucial element: a designer's vision. Whether it's an experienced industrial designer crafting a new motorcycle or a car for a major brand, or a skilled metalworker bringing their dream to life, every automotive marvel originates from someone's creative mind. What drives these designers? What influences them? And what makes their work stand out? These questions are thoughtfully explored on the new video streaming platform, TopiD-Hub—a subscription-based video streaming platform that profiles leading designers from the auto and moto industries. Each episode, averaging 25 minutes, features a range of key questions posed to these designers, providing insight into their creative processes.

Four years in the making, TopiD-Hub is the brainchild of Paulo Rosas—an accomplished vehicle graphics and moto gear designer. Many custom motorcycle enthusiasts recognize Paulo as the founder of the stylish urban motorcycle and gear brand, Pagnol Motor. He is also the creative force behind Speed Machines Design, a marketing and design studio with an impressive client list.

We sat down with Paulo to chat and understand what TopiD-Hub is and the journey behind this creative venture. Sit back and relax as you delve into the insightful interview.

TopiD-Hub Founder - Paulo Rosas

Hi Paulo, can you introduce yourself to our audience and share a bit about your background?

My name is Paulo Rosas, and I am a multidisciplinary creative in the motorsports industry. My work encompasses a wide range of areas, including moto and auto gear, vehicle graphics, livery design, and creative direction for marketing content such as photography, filmmaking, and music production. I operate through my design and marketing studio, Speed Machines Design.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with top teams in MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, WSBK, and MotoAmerica. I have also collaborated with prominent power sports brands like Triumph Motorcycles, Polaris, Indian Motorcycles, Alpinestars, Roland Sands Design, Ford Mustang Jackets, and BikeExif.com, among others. Additionally, I founded and managed the design and marketing for Pagnol Motor, a brand recognized for its stylish and understated moto and auto gear.

Can you tell us what TopiD-Hub is and what inspired you to start it?

TopiD-Hub is an online video streaming platform where top-tier automotive and motorcycle designers and builders share their most valuable asset: their creative mindsets. The goal is to extract, dissect, and share the intangible value behind the vehicles we love. It's not a design course or a detailed biography of the creatives; instead, it delves deeper into the core of their creativity.

TopiD-Hub - Dashboard

Importantly, TopiD-Hub is a self-financed, produced, and managed project. It was born out of a series of questions I asked myself in my quest to become the best creative I could be. I wanted to understand what makes a great creative and how they operate. This led me to wonder about the origins of creativity itself. With Pagnol, I became surrounded by a network of top motorcycle builders and designers. I began to think about how I could leverage this stellar network. Inspired by platforms like Netflix’s Chef’s Table and MasterClass, I saw an opportunity to join this democratization of high-level knowledge. The idea was to create a platform where top-tier motorsports creatives could share their insights.

So, I asked myself: how can we create a platform where these top-tier designers and builders can share their insights in a way that’s altruistic and engaging, but also a new way for them to capitalize on their talent? TopiD-Hub is the answer to that question. It’s about going beyond the surface and really understanding what drives these incredible minds, offering an interesting form of compensation for them and an affordable subscription-based model.

What does the name 'TopiD-Hub' signify, and how does it embody the sentiment of 'building a longer table, not a taller wall'?

TopiD is a made-up word, like Xerox or Spotify, standing for Top Industrial Design. The "Hub" signifies a gathering center. Although TopiD-Hub currently focuses on transportation design, the name leaves room for expansion into general industrial design in the future. Regarding the altruistic aspect, I wanted TopiD-Hub to include that element, so the challenge was how to fairly compensate top designers while giving back at the same time.

By making this knowledge almost free through a $50 annual subscription, I aim to reach people who might not otherwise have access to these minds. This project is about levelling the playing field and fostering a society where shared knowledge benefits as many as possible. It’s about creating a platform that democratizes high-level design insights, making them accessible to a broader audience and ensuring that the knowledge of top designers can inspire and educate people worldwide.

Can you describe the creative process involved in producing content for TopiD-Hub?

I began with the network of designers and builders I knew from Pagnol. Now, I'm expanding to include other auto and moto creatives I've never met. The criteria are simple: they must be senior-level, and their work must align with the project's aesthetic. This includes schooled industrial-transport designers, self-taught moto and auto builders, CMFG (Graphics) designers, and motorsports content creators.

To create genuinely significant content, I start by sending questions to the creatives ahead of time. The key is asking the right questions to extract their elusive creative mindsets. Once that's set, I film at their location, which takes about three hours. Then, I edit the footage down to an average 25-minute episode, focusing on essential insights.

This process ensures that we capture and present their unique perspectives concisely and engagingly. One example comes from Hugo Eccles, a featured designer on TopiD-Hub. Hugo emphasizes that the secret to design is not about finding the right answers, as many designers often believe. Instead, he argues that it's about asking the right questions. This subtle but profound shift changes the entire approach and outcome of the design process.

For instance, instead of asking "How can we improve this motorcycle's performance?" Hugo might ask, "What kind of experience do we want the rider to have?"  This question reframes the problem, leading to solutions that consider not just technical specifications but also the emotional and experiential aspects of the design. This methodology can transform the way a designer approaches their work, resulting in designs that are more holistic and user-centric.

Hugo Eccles, Untitled Motorcycles

By featuring insights like these on TopiD-Hub, we aim to provide a deeper understanding of the creative process. It's about sharing the mindsets and philosophies that drive top designers, helping viewers see beyond the finished products and understand the thought processes that lead to truly exceptional design.

Could you elaborate on the altruistic aspect of TopiD-Hub and explain what distinguishes it from other platforms, such as podcasts or video channels?

TopiD-Hub distinguishes itself through its unique production approach, concise storytelling, and distinctive style. Unlike podcasts, which often have minimal editing and can be lengthy, our episodes are short and visually engaging. Unlike scattered YouTube videos, TopiD-Hub offers curated content all in one place. Similar to Netflix’s Chef’s Table, TopiD-Hub aims to inspire by showcasing mastery, but with a focus on design.

To ensure entertainment, I emphasize high production value with thoughtful edits and music. The educational aspect is inherent in the content, as it selectively shares top-tier knowledge and the creative processes behind it. TopiD-Hub stands out by providing genuine value in the form of top-tier knowledge, presented in a concise and edgy manner. We steer away from the corporate and sterile feel of many industry videos, opting instead for a more rock-inspired edge. The music is influenced by artists like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails, known for their excellence in scoring movie music, enhancing the dynamic feel of our content for example.

What kind of impact are you hoping TopiD-Hub will have on the design community, and who is the primary audience for it?

I want TopiD-Hub to elevate the profiles of designers, much like how chefs have become celebrated figures. This platform not only provides a new revenue stream for designers but also offers OEMs a way to showcase behind-the-scenes content and collaborate with design schools. Additionally, I hope TopiD-Hub contributes to Dieter Rams' quest for 'Less but better,' which aligns with sustainability goals. Our audience ranges from design students to professionals and motorheads. Much like how you don't need to be a chef to enjoy Chef’s Table, you don’t need to be a designer to appreciate TopiD-Hub—if you love cool cars and motorcycles, you'll enjoy it.

Can you tell us about some of the top-tier designers and builders involved with TopiD-Hub and what motivates them to participate?

TopiD-Hub shines a spotlight on individual designers rather than the companies they work for. Currently featured are Hugo Eccles from Untitled Motorcycles, Michael LaFountain from Raccia Motorcycles, and Bill Webb from Huge Design. I am excited to announce here on Automotive Design Planet the new episode featuring Bjorn Shuster, design director at the largest US motorcycle company. Next in line are:-

  • Greg Tada - A senior motorcycle designer for Aprilia
  • Richard Mitchell-Clay - A designer at the world's largest e-car company and a bike builder
  • Alex Earle - Design manager at the largest German auto conglomerate, among others.

For many of these designers, their primary income is limited to their salary. TopiD-Hub provides them with a new avenue for passive income and an opportunity to create a professionally produced mini-documentary of their creative journey. They are also motivated by the chance to inspire and connect with audiences who may not otherwise have access to their expertise. My ultimate goal is to establish a team to create a fully-fledged company and then provide funding for education, offering one-on-one classes donated by the creatives for those less fortunate. I aim to partner with OEMs and design schools to expand TopiD-Hub into general industrial design while enhancing production quality to continue delivering compelling content.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this journey so far, and how can people get involved with or support TopiD-Hub?

Being that the project is only 5 months old, I don’t have much to say yet. However, I've already noticed a significant trend among designers focusing too much on technical and styling aspects, rather than embracing a true design problem-solving mentality, which is crucial for creating distinctive vehicles. This lack of deeper design understanding often results in vehicles that look similar and are only distinguishable by their logos. The response from top-tier creatives who understand this deeper aspect of design has been incredibly positive, which is both humbling and rewarding.

Despite still being in its infancy, it's gratifying to see media platforms like Automotive Design Planet showing belief in TopiD-Hub. Moreover, creating something that benefits both creators and viewers alike is highly fulfilling. Moving forward, I'm always eager to collaborate with more designers and builders who share our vision.

For those interested in being involved in the project as a creative for OEMs and design schools, please contact me at paulo@topid-hub.com for more information. To support the project, you can subscribe and spread the word!

Thank you! Paulo Rosas, TopiD-Hub