After a small presentation on Tata’s history and present, Pratap Bose told us that we would be designing at the studio. Amazed and excited at the same time, some of us had to pinch ourselves to come back to reality, more so when he said that the sketches would be further moulded into the clay format. This is also where we learnt that the design process is a far lengthier process than one might have ever thought. It begins with numerous sketches and by the time the final design is ready, an average of 48 months or two years have passed by.
Coming to our main activity for the day, we were split into a team of four batches, with each batch comprising of three journalists. We were randomly allotted a vehicle design, and to our sheer luck, it was a hatchback. Three journalists and one senior member from the Tata Motors design team sat down on one table, discussing and sketching their own plans. We were first told to get an idea of what we would want in a hatchback with details regarding the size, exterior design, highlights and various other elements. Mind you, we had a time limit of one hour to finish the design and hand it over to Pratap Bose after which he would choose the winning design that would go on to be etched in clay.
Our team began sketching individually, creating our distinct designs on how a sporty hatchback should be. We were given some suggestions and inputs at intervals from a senior member of the design team, thus improving our design to a great extent. While we could agree on most of the points regarding the design, our sketches were turning out to be a bit different. With the clock ticking, the senior design team member had a look at our sketches and brought to life our ideas and designs in a manner that would take a few days if not more. The design was submitted to Pratap Bose who shortlisted one design each for the hatchback and commercial vehicle, which would now be shaped onto the clay format. Known as clay modeling, the process involves use of clay on a base, giving the desired design by hand, where the warm temperature clay is smeared on a base, and as additional layers of clay are put, the warm clay gets hard as it cools down, thus taking the desired shape or form.
The clay modeling process is followed by a digital scan where each portion of the model is scanned and fed to a computer, and then taken over by the digital process of design. The digital process then allows designers to tweak the more detailed and intricate parts that are difficult to make on clay.