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UC designer accelerates with BMW

Antony Perry and Marcus Butler

11 November 2017: It’s one of the world’s premium car brands and a University of Canberra student can now boast of helping design a BMW.

The luxury car manufacturer’s new X3 model has hit the road and when Zach Altose sees it driving the streets of Canberra, he’ll be watching his work in motion – literally.

Mr Altose, who is studying graphic design, has had his design (pictured below) chosen to cover the vehicle’s exterior after winning the BMW X3 Exterior Design Competition run by the University and Rolfe Classic BMW.

Second year graphic design students at the University were required to participate in the competition as part of their studies this semester. They worked with Rolfe Classic BMW and local design company Rojo Customs on designing graphics for the new model X3.

Mr Altose said working with BMW was completely unexpected, but was an amazing opportunity.

“I’m a visiting student to the University of Canberra, coming as part of the Student Abroad program from Canada,” Mr Altose said. “Being able to put the design together was fun, but to actually see it on the car is icing on the cake. I couldn’t be more happy.”

“I took the design brief which asked us to combine modernist architecture with BMW’s brand values. I found inspiration in a triangular grid pattern which I saw on the ceiling of the National Gallery of Australia. With this grid, and having the ideas of movement, creation, and structure in mind, I created my design, while also drawing colours from BMW’s own M-series logo.”

Mr Altose said while automotive design wasn’t where he intended to go when he started his studies, the opportunity is certainly opening up new career options.

“It’s not what I had in mind going into my degree, but you never know where life will take you. I definitely enjoyed doing this design, so I like to think it is a possibility.”

Mr Altose and four runners up will have their designs exhibited at the BMW showroom in Phillip as part of this year’s DESIGN Canberra event.

Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Fanke Peng, who oversaw the project, said it was a rare opportunity for students to engage with a leading car manufacturer.

“Our collaboration with Rolfe Classic BMW provided an opportunity to incorporate a work-integrated learning project into our coursework this semester,” Dr Peng said.

“These are important because students love to engage with real-life projects and they enhance their employability skills.

“Coming up with a design to cover BMW's new X3 was an excellent chance to do something completely different. These sorts of opportunities do not come around often.”

The students will have the opportunity to meet the Chief Designer of the BMW X3, Calvin Luk, who was so impressed by the students’ work that he will visit Canberra to meet them.

Rolfe Classic BMW Marketing Manager Emma Hales said the students should be very proud of what they’ve achieved.

“We’ve loved sharing our knowledge of the brand with students, and also providing them with an opportunity to work on a real-life project with us,” Ms Hales said.

“The enthusiasm and execution of the students has been the most enjoyable part. They’ve created stories with their designs that would allow any marketing department to develop strong campaigns.

“And to have captured the attention of BMW Exterior Designer Calvin Luk to the point that he’s determined to meet the students face to face, that’s the best indication that what the students have achieved is something they can be very proud of.”

The top five designs from the competition will be on display at Rolfe Classic BMW from Saturday 11 November as part of the DESIGN Canberra event.