Role: Lead Researcher and Visual Designer
Picked to participate in a team of 5, the goal of this project was to design the User Experience for the Infinity QX70 SUV concept vehicle. This was a contest between seven teams, and our team was made up of Fede Ponce (Creative Director & UI/UX Designer), three interns out of Pasadena Art Center (Research), and myself (Lead Researcher & Visual Designer).
We needed to establish an emotional connection between the user and the User Interface. The need was to generate a universal human experience through holistic UI design, rooted in Japanese values, while identifying a unique definition of Modern Luxury. At the time, there was an automotive trend in which the user experience was separate from the design. Our job was to align the internal and external experience in order to redefine the notion of luxury by defining what luxury meant for the Japanese culture and how it aligned with its values.
The whole experience was content dependent and was determined by destinations, times of day, number of passengers, the weather, and things alike. By using predictive technology, the welcome screen could use a specific greeting, and the key could determine how the user was feeling by comparing past behaviors and calendar notes. And just like that, the content of the past dictated the experience of the future.
The QX-70 Concept SUV
Infinity Style Reference
This was our style reference provided by Infinity. As we were coming up with solutions for our designs, we needed to think about traditional design principles that we were going to modernize and be able to make global. Technically, we needed to think about a unified experience of color, shapes, and animations, and about the emotions that we wanted to trigger in the experience. To get to these solutions, we needed to research everything we could about the Japanese culture, like its art, food, and cinema. We needed to figure out what it meant to be Japanese. What were their traditional and modern design trends, and what where the values from the past and present? This research would inform us a lot about the visual style but also about the car’s UI behavior.
The solution was to focus on the overall user experience, information design, brand strategy, interaction, service design and storytelling that would connect people with the new technologies of this future vehicle. What we found was that there were many challenges facing humanity as a whole, and they were that we can no longer afford to continue living on an individualistic model of consumption. That the old concept of opulent luxury is excessive and no longer sustainable, and we found rather that modern luxury is not wasteful. It is instead guided by the need for awareness and connection, and instead connects us back to nature.
Having recognized all the challenges and integrating the insights from the research, a new design thesis was constructed and we called it: Enlightened Luxury.
And this is how we got to the solution:
47 million households constitute the middle market ($50,000+ annual income)
Those of which were broadly educated and well traveled
They had $3.5 trillion in disposable income
And were willing to pay 20% more for experiences and crafted goods
Researched Class Competition & Autonomous Vehicles
We found that there was no integration between the screens that we researched and the environment around it. Most designs offered a familiar “tablet” to the user instead of extending the design language.
There was also no integration between hardware and the experience.
We found clean, engaging, easy to use, more powerful and user friendly interfaces.
The full user centered journey is a luxurious emotional experience that originated with the mobile device, wearable, key fob, or Infinity’s mobile dock. It grew in anticipation as the user moved closer to the automobile and culminated at the end of the day when the user left the automobile.
Future Tech Materials
The interior materials was probably some of the most exciting findings we had. We found that future car seats will grip and bend and will be much safer than they are today. They can even detect symptoms like your blood pressure dropping, making the vehicle reprogram destinations if needed.
Progress in facial recognition technology means machines can not only identify who is in the car, but also will be able to detect moods and patterns in those driving the vehicle.
We then immersed ourselves in the Japanese Culture
We read a lot of blogs and ate a lot of Japanese food.
We interviewed expert auto bloggers and spent time at many dealerships
We studied Japanese architecture, cinema, fashion and fine art
We Studied Infinity’s Japanese Craftsmanship
Cuban-American Alfonso Albaisa is the Senior Vice President for Global Design for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. Under Albaisa’s leadership, Global Nissan Design members have been evolving new design language giving shape of Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies to customers around the world. We followed his lead on what makes beautiful design luxurious.
We interviewed those directly connected to the culture
We got in contact with Japanese designers, artists, painters, and musicians and and researched their aesthetic and their process. We also contacted auto bloggers and asked their opinions on Japanese automakers, including Infinity’s.
Senior Editor Autos Univision
Actress & Director in Japan and Los Angeles
Japanese Creative Director, Photographer, Filmmaker
Editor in Chief of an auto and lifestyle media company
We Researched High Tech Fabrics
We looked at some of the most durable materials being used at the time.
We researched Japanese Cinema
This project was about generating an emotional connection and Japanese films got to the core of that.
now that we had all of this information how did we break it down?
We explained our theory of Enlightened Luxury
Infinity’s Enlightened Luxury proposition is defined by nature inspired events. It is the spirit and emotion that empowers the artificial intelligence of the Enlightened Luxury Experience. It manifested itself as a digital representation of nature and we found that balance inside and outside of the Japanese home.
A UI language was formed
The UI had to be representative of Japanese customs and values so we designed our own language that showed that.
Studied and Build Flows
Through infographics we designed challenges and key points.
THE FINISH LINE
This information included the process and research, and we also expanded the project to include a VR experience.
This was probably the most in depth project I had worked on when it came to doing UX research. As we immersed ourselves in the Infinity brand, our design process, creative direction and visual journey all had to be incredibly thorough. As our small team worked to figure out the best User Experience we could have given the User based on their likes, their customs, and their predictive journey, what we learned about the car industry, the future of the car industry, and the Japanese culture was pretty incredible. To say that we will be in driverless cars that are safer, are smarter, and are tailored 100% to your liking is definitely a wave of the future.
I’m happy to say, that our team won the project in the end!