Miles drives a Rapide and believes that it would work well as a pure electric model.
WITH a name like “Miles”, it is difficult to imagine Miles Nurnberger doing anything that is not related to automobiles.
Having a father who ran a graphic design advertising agency and who loves cars helped.
From a young age, the 42-year-old Briton was immersed in the world of design and cars and he started drawing them when he was about seven years old.
A chance encounter with some scale models led to the realisation that he could actually design cars as a job. “From that day on, it was what I wanted to do and I am very privileged to still be doing what I was already doing since I was a boy.”
Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that an internship stint while he was still a Transport Design undergraduate at Coventry University would one day land him a job offer at Aston Martin, following appointments with Ford Motor Company in the USA and Citroen Advanced Design in France.
Eleven years on, going to work still makes him feel like a boy in a toy shop.
Miles shares with Torque what working on Aston Martins such as the One-77 and the Valkyrie were like, whether designing supercars is any different from designing regular cars, and how the manufacturer is approaching electrification.
What were some of your most memorable projects?
The One-77 is very special because it was the very first Aston Martin that I worked on. I recall sitting with the metal workers for at least the first three cars that we were building until 3am, for a week per car.
I hand-worked the cars with them, fettling every line and teaching them how to get the lines until they could do it by themselves.
Another project is the Valkyrie, where we got to work with the Red Bull Racing team and Adrian Newey, one of the foremost designers in Formula 1.
When we started, we didn’t know how we were going to reach that goal, which was both scary and exciting at the same time.
It’s like coming out of university all over again, building a car completely from the ground up, pushing the boundaries of what we can do for a road car.
What is your design manifesto?
I believe in visual hierarchy.
Every film has a leading actor and supporting actors and it is about how you construct a story.
It is the same with design. At Aston Martin, we created what we call an orchestra of characters. The various models in the line-up play together, but ultimately, each one has a very distinct character, unlike Russian dolls.
What are some of the major challenges designers face these days?
Electrification is one big challenge. The mechanical watch industry was wary when smartwatches first made their appearance, but now, you see people wearing a traditional watch on one wrist and a smartwatch on the other.
In much the same way, I strongly believe that electric cars and internal combustion engine cars will co-exist for quite a long time.
Tell us more about Aston Martin’s first all-electric production model, the Rapide E.
We invited the Lagonda Owners Club to come see the Rapide E. These are guys who own classic Aston Martins and have the smell of petrol ingrained in them. They thought it was brilliant.
We decided to go full electric from day one because we think that it is the right way forward for our market and our company size. A hybrid is a mix of two things and not always for the better.
Electrification is not cheap. But that the swap makes a lot of financial sense for our customers than it would if you were in the mid-range.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES AND INTERNAL COMBUSTION CARS WILL CO-EXIST FOR QUITE A LONG TIME.
How is designing hypercars and supercars different or similar to designing regular cars?
The hypercar and supercar world is about marginal gain, where you put in 200 percent for a 10 percent gain.
We use computers and virtual reality in our designs, but the excellence arises from using our eyes and fingers, because these are the two parts of our bodies with the most number of nerve endings. To make beautiful objects, we need to touch them. This is why we still make clay models.
Regular cars are driven by function; hypercars and supercars are driven by emotion. The more you can do to encourage that emotion, the better.
If you had the freedom to design anything that you wanted, what would it be?
I am already doing it!
MAIN PHOTO ANGELA GUO
ART DIRECTION MICHAEL CHIAN