Institution / client name: Volkswagen;
Jack Rouse Associates
Project name: AutoDesign
Date: Summer 2000
Role(s): Producer / project manager, interactivity design, technical solution design, technical direction, programming

Two steps of the AutoDesign process. In the first, one of VW's marques is chosen; at the end of the process accessories are added.

Jack Rouse Associates was looking for someone to create a car design kiosk for their museum project at Volkswagen's new AutoStadt in Wolfsburg, Germany. Jeff Kraemer spotted a previous project I worked on for the Spirit of Ford museum, and tracked me down. The goal was to give visitors both a sense of watching design evolve, and a sense of the breadth and depth of Volkswagen's offerings - all within 4 months time.

The main problem this project presented was one of timeline. There was a hard-and-fast deadline of the museum opening in June, but the work necessary would take until November. The solution was to break the project into modules that could be added at any time. We delivered a fully functioning, production quality front end that let visitors look at and design 8 cars, and delivered the remaining 20 or so cars over the next months. In that way, the exhibit was up and running for the opening of the museum, and we didn't need to violate the laws of physics by getting 10 months of work done in 4.

The client wanted to have a linear experience with definite stages. We constructed the UI to accommodate the stages, to provide a sense of the duration of the experience, and give the user a sense of place in the process. In order to provide the sense of continuity of design, the user starts with a lump of clay. The first stage is to choose one of Volkswagens marques. The lump of clay transitions into a slightly different lump of clay that iconically represents the ethos of the particular marque. At this point the user can choose a car model within the marque, and the lump of clay transitions into a model of that particular car. Successive stages decorate the car with color, wheels, and accessories. The user may always go back, accompanied by properly transitioning graphics.

The entire set of transitions was represented by a finite state diagram, which was traversed during the activity. All animation sequences are choreographed cell animation created by master 3-D artist Scott Wells. The proper choreography of all the still frames gave the illusion of morphing.

The project was completed on time, on budget, and without any need for debugging.

Screen shot from the attract loop

Souvenir image of your car — either as a print or email.

phone: 617-697-7527 — e-mail: — ©2007, 2008, 2009 Ben Dubrovsky