Design-Mitarbeiter arbeitet am Clay-Modell

Why emotional design is created by hand

The designing process of a car

The cars of tomorrow are sketched in the new Audi Design Center, where their bodies are sculpted for the first time. Blogger Benjamin Brodbeck visited the center and found out why even in the digital age, emotional design can only be created by hand.

Any James Bond fan with a passion for automobiles and high-tech especially savors film scenes with lab hipster Q: in secret MI6 labs, the high-tech genius shows secret agent 007 the latest technological developments. Of course, mostly intended for agent purposes only. Quite entertainingly, a tad bit overcurious grip of 007 and a second of thoughtlessness of Q, reveals inventions that are ready for series production. A secretive atmosphere, coupled with the creativity of futuristic inventions, can be quite fascinating in movies. I experience a similar sensation of fascination as I stand behind a large, floor-to-ceiling window front and look upon a lab of some sort with automated milling and elongated light guiding elements on the ceiling.

Einblick in das neue Audi Design Center.
The digital design manufacture combines modern CAD and 3D visualisation with manual modelling tradition.

The design studio: a place of secrecy

Strictly speaking, my focus is directed to the deepest interior. Namely in the futuristic looking heart of The Four Rings, as you might have guessed.

Right here, in the new Audi Design Center in Ingolstadt, is where the Audi vehicles of tomorrow, and even of the day after tomorrow, are designed. This is the place where designers, engineers, modelers and project managers work across departments on automobiles that are subject to highest secrecy. Automobiles, whose appearance and technology cause hundreds of journalists and competitors to rack their brains on a daily basis. Following the motto: what happens here, stays here.

Der A7 und sein Clay-Modell.

From a clay model to a fully operating automobile: The A8 in two of his evolutionary stages.

The digital design manufacture

To ensure that this remains true in the avant-garde building with the large windows, a double glass façade prevents an inward view from the outside. At the same time, it lets through daylight photons essential for working on clay models. It may be true that sophisticated lighting fixtures have been installed on the wide-span ceilings, which illuminate the room with various types of lights. But we all know, nothing compares to natural daylight. This is why the large window fronts, which bring plenty of light to the generous space, play an equally superior role in the architecture of the new Audi Design Center as the exterior surface on the roof.

Before I enter the futuristic-looking studio with clay models of the new A7, the path leads me one floor down – to the origin. There, the first design ideas, forms and proportions of sketches are transferred to the canvas using CAD data (Computer-Aided Design) and developed further. Supercomputers take on the job of visualization and calculate the right picture instantly from almost all angles with incidence of light in different environments.

Arbeit am Clay-Modell
Through continuous adjustment of the clay models to the CAD model, design modifications can be visualised in a 1:1 model.

Even dynamic states of the vehicle can be displayed. It’s impressive to see the new A7 driving through a virtual city next to the Prologue study. Not even Q’s lab is equipped with this technology. Anything to save not only time, but also clay. The first digital results can then be transferred to adjacent models using automated milling. Above all, proportions appear differently in reality than on screen.

Back to the third floor. I am standing in front of the rear of the new Audi A7, which is mounted on a board and whose front eyes observe the world outside the studio. A robotic arm mills the shape of the side door, chips flying impressively.


The so-called CNC milling machine receives the data from previously created CAD data. Based on coordinates that are created by means of the board in the floor, the mill works line by line. Milling an entire body shell takes about one day.

So why do we even need modelers, if everything can be created and programmed digitally? After all, you could easily establish a purely digital design factory, sit back and let the machines do your work.

Throughout all the different modification steps, the clay model serves as a physical reference, for example for the discussion between modelers and designers.


The Audi designer team has developed a new designing process that combines CAD (Computer-Aided Design), 3D visualisation and traditional model construction as well as clay modelling.


The design process at Audi consists of three components: CAD, Concept, Clay milling.


But the most important thing about an Audi should never be neglected: its emotionality. Solely creative hands can transfer their passion to the surfaces and lines and fill them with life and dynamics. And so the designers, together with modelers, do the finishing work by hand. The progress of this work is continuously scanned and transferred to the digital CAD model, allowing every person involved in the project to be up-to-date.

Ein Mitarbeiter arbeitet am Rechner mit de CAD-Tools.

Modellers at Audi master both the manual work at the physical model as well as the work with CAD tools on the computer.

Seeing DNA even in the dark

Light not only plays a major role as an instrument for assessing body shapes, it is also extremely important to identify an Audi as such, even in adverse light conditions. In addition, light elements can support and intensify existing lines and surfaces on a body – even on a supposedly boring cuboid.

Lighting design is – next to interior and multimedia design – another department in the design center. Usually found where it is already dark. After the sketches are digitized and animated directly from the drawing board – thanks to prototype construction – spotlights, ambient lights and taillights are developed quite quickly and integrated into the vehicle.

The light tunnel is used to present the unmistakable lighting design of the new Audi A7 to various decision-makers in composition to its outer skin. A black, elongated tent shields the daylight during outdoor presentations. Therefore, while driving slowly and constantly immersing yourself in the darkness, you can judge the relationship between body shape under daylight and light lines in the darkness.

And yes, in this room I somewhat feel like 007 in the company of several quartermasters. Not that I would even dare to presume to have his capabilities. Although I may not receive a watch or car on my further mission after completing the various stations, this fascinating place exudes an atmosphere similar to that of Q’s lab on a cinema screen.

The Coupé’s taillight is composed of 26 vertical segments that are combined through a precise LED lighting strip, a tribute to the original quattro.

High-Tech meets manual work in the new Audi Design Center

Where will the journey lead? Firstly, to a new design for the navigational system of the Audi A7.
The interior designers at Audi are involved in the whole development process, starting with the drawing board and ending with the series production.
A special part of the interior is the GUI design (Graphical User Interface). An integral part of that are the MMI touch response displays.
Exclusive design and advanced technology in one: the MMI touch response displays support the user’s technology experience and bring joy while using it.

Where will the journey lead? Firstly, to a new design for the navigational system of the Audi A7.


The interior designers at Audi are involved in the whole development process, starting with the drawing board and ending with the series production.


A special part of the interior is the GUI design (Graphical User Interface). An integral part of that are the MMI touch response displays.


Exclusive design and advanced technology in one: the MMI touch response displays support the user’s technology experience and bring joy while using it.

Audi A7 Sportback
Audi MediaCenter

From idea to finished car: High tech and handmade finish in the Audi design

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John Skosana

22. November 2018 um 15:10
I would like to propose a new Audi model and exterior design thereof for the company.
Kindly advice which process to follow?

Stephanie Huber

22. November 2018 um 15:13
Dear John,

thanks for your comment. Are you an Audi employee?

Jun Gi Kim

27. May 2018 um 23:34
Hi My name is Jun Gi Kim and I come from South Korea. Now I live in Berlin and I am looking for the place that I can learn clay car modelling in Germany. I have a strong passion to learn this Job but I had so hard works to find out information about clay car modelling. I really want to learn and I have a sense about clay and cars. Please send me information that how can I find and get to work clay modelling. Thank you so much.

Stephanie Huber

28. May 2018 um 6:39
Dear Jun Gi Kim,

please find all vacant positions on

Parviz kazemi

14. May 2018 um 11:50
I have always loved the designing and manufacturing of cars and have paid excessive attention to their bodies. Since my childhood, I used to make related handicrafts that kids of my age couldn’t even think of.
With every new car or airplane I made with trash papers or cartons came a small progress with addition of a new feature. For an instance, I used batteries and armchairs to make them move! It wasn’t until I used wood to make cars. I grabbed useless wooden pieces from carpenter shops, made and colored many cars, which mostly ended up in my friends’ hands as gifts! That was when I found my passion for wooden designs and tried to mold every shape I wanted on wood such as cars. Even a few models were my own ideas without copying from an existing car design! I also made iron- and leather-roof “krook” cars which could close and open their roofs! I found myself capable of designing every shape and design you want for a car body!
I process raw wood with cutting equipment, saw and glue for the purpose of design and making.
However, I haven’t been able to go much further due to lack of facilities and a heavily scheduled life in Iran. I’m sure I can make huge progresses when given the chance to work for clay model sections of car manufacturers as I believe in my talents. I would like to ask you to see my work samples and even test my abilities if required.
please to accept my request
because I love this work and I have good talent in this work
If you accept my request, I promise to successful
I can work for you whit minimum stipend

Stephanie Huber

14. May 2018 um 13:10
Dear Parviz,

thanks a lot for your message. Great to see we have design lovers all over the world who read our blog. Please find all career options on


Stephanie from the Audi Social Media team

Abhijeet Vilas patil

5. December 2017 um 5:17
What a fascinating process of making a car. Audi is next word to excellence. the process is combination of human emotions and cutting edge technology.

Marco Tulio Miranda Araujo

4. December 2017 um 23:41
I would like to work at Audi AG!

Marek Radarek

25. November 2017 um 18:23

Ariel Esparza

20. November 2017 um 3:22
As a current employee of Audi of America and a true Audi fan, I am proud and even more excited about the direction of the brand and the new models to come. It's definitely about the emotionality and the willingness to go fearlessly forward.

Babak Haghjoo

17. November 2017 um 10:54

Consumption and emission figures of vehicles on this page:

Audi A7 Sportback: Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.2 – 6.8; Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 163 – 154. Figures on the fuel consumption and the CO2-emissions vary in case of given ranges depending on the used combination of wheels/tires. //