The series of Audi Mind Movers conferences is getting towards the end. Starting from the Design Week, this event is taking Audi City Lab towards Expo Milano 2015. The relationship between design and sport went on stage in the evening of Wednesday 22 April.

The special guests, chaired by Michelangelo Giombini from Interni magazine, were Mario Abis, sociologist, and Heinz Peter Hollerweger, Quattro managing director, who discussed sport from the viewpoint of design, emotion, performance, comfort, technology, and well-being.

There are objects that challenge fashions because they always fulfill the functions for which they were designed: sports implements. The debate on design and sport started from this Gillo Dorfles quote.

One can even go further back, in the 1920s, when the Futurists found for the first time a relationship between these two activities. On the one side, the theme of speed and of transforming objects (in particular, cars and trains) through speed. On the other side, there emerged the idea of individual sports, with the technological development of sports apparel, ski boots, tracksuits, etc. In those years, design began taking a strong visual value, that was added to the technical side.

Today comfort is important, together with visual appeal, which in turn is the outcome of a design process. From this viewpoint, with respect to cars, design also means function. These are the three factors connected to the sports performance of a car: visual appeal, comfort, functionality.

A sports car, for example Audi R8, presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March, always results from the merger of these three factors. Engineers and designers work together. A successful sports car can only be built based on the quality of these two skills.

Just to make an example, a high-performance sports car must be “short”. It is therefore necessary to work on form, aerodynamics, and visual aspects. But then there is the technical issue of how the headlamps illuminate the road. Designers and engineers worked on laser lights, tackled and solved the issue.

This effectively proves that visual form without function is generally empty. Functionality solves engineering problems and turns them into visual appeal, beauty and design.


Text by Danilo Signorello – photo by Efrem Raimondi