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Posted 06.09.17

Graduate creates one-of-a-kind design for Mercedes-Benz SW

By Phillip Buchan

Mercedes-Benz South West is touring events across the South West with a stylish one-of-a-kind smart car, featuring designs by Sarah Court, a recent BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern graduate, before putting the bespoke ‘smart fortwo’ on sale later in the year.

Sarah created a range of possible exterior designs for Mercedes-Benz South West ‘smart fortwo’ and ‘smart forfour’ smart cars as part of a live brief set by the manufacturer for BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern students. When her design was selected by judges from Mercedes-Benz South West, Sarah won £500 in prize money and the opportunity to see one of her designs applied to a special edition ‘smart fourtwo’.

smartathlon concept designed by Faith Grainger, Jamie Woodward Jarvis and other BA (Hons) Creative Advertising & Brand students

The one-off smart car will be on show in Dartmoor Zoo at the smartathlon event on Saturday 16 September 2017, from 12pm until 5pm. The family fun event will consist of three challenges, in which guests will compete in a smart car packing test, a reverse parking challenge and a turning circle trial. The concept for the smartathlon was created by first year BA (Hons) Creative Advertising & Brand students Faith Grainger and Jamie Woodward Jarvis.

In addition to a barbeque and garden games, all smartathlon attendees will also have free access to the zoo on the day and discounted entry to Dartmoor Zoo’s Jungle Book cinema screening on the same night. Free places for the smartathlon can be booked by emailing jo.winter@mercedes-benzsouthwest.co.uk.

“This has been our first collaboration with students from Plymouth College of Art and we have been very impressed with the professional standard of work."

– Charlotte Simonds, Group Communications Manager for Mercedes-Benz South West

Sarah Court, who is 25 years old and lives in Calstock, Cornwall, was also shortlisted in the 2016 i-dott surface pattern design awards. Sarah is a designer and maker of digital and screen-printed textiles and surfaces for fashion, interiors, event décor and more.

Sarah Court pitches her designs for Mercedes-Benz South West

Sarah said: “It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with such a respected brand during my degree. Seeing the completed smart car, featuring my designs, has been a real high point of my career so far. As well as the obvious benefits, working on this live brief really taught me the value of conveying the project journey when I pitched and discussed my designs with Mercedes-Benz South West. I found that having that extra angle for a client to consider, when presenting the finished work, really helped to communicate the ideas behind my overall finished design.

“After completing a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Plymouth College of Art, I realised that I’d started hoarding decorative patterns and scraps of printed textiles. This realisation, combined with my tendency to enjoy experimental drawing and illustration, led me to the BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern programme. I’m happy that it did, because now I understand that this is a discipline that allows me to work expressively whilst also accommodating my meticulous nature.”

Sarah Court's original 'smart forfour' design

Charlotte Simonds, Group Communications Manager for Mercedes-Benz South West, said: “This has been our first collaboration with students from Plymouth College of Art and we have been very impressed with the professional standard of work that was created. For the initial live brief, we debated for a couple of hours over which design to go with because there were many considerations and, more to the point, excellent designs to choose from. While we loved all five of the student designs that were shortlisted, our decision came down to commercial viability in regard of speed of sale. We really felt that Sarah Court’s design had the edge.”

The respected car manufacturer was so satisfied with the quality of interactions with Plymouth College of Art that they initiated another live brief with the college, giving first year BA (Hons) Creative Advertising & Brand students the opportunity to plan potential marketing and promotional strategies for the smart cars.

“It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with such a respected brand during my degree."

– Sarah Court, BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern graduate

Cathy Freeman, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Printed Textile Design and Surface Pattern at Plymouth College of Art, said: “Working on designs for the ‘fortwo’ and ‘forfour’ with a prestigious organisation like Mercedes-Benz South West was a fantastic opportunity for all of the students involved to gain vital experience in how their design concepts can be applied in a real-world setting.

“It takes competitive spirit, grit and determination on the part of the students to nail what the client is looking for, or to entice them with something new and innovative. Mercedes-Benz South West were really open to different interpretations of the brief and gave the students invaluable feedback.”