For over a decade, Audi USA has been a premier sponsor for the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, an annual cycling adventure riding along the Pacific Coast Highway. I have spent each spring since 2015, working with Team Audi stakeholders to illustrate and design a branded cycling kit to get the team of 50 riders down the coast in style and promote the brand internationally.
Scope of Work
• Trend Research
• Fabric/Pattern Research
• Pattern Design
• Clothing Design
• Production Design
Each kit begins with an abstract concept defined by the team captains. I’ve received ideas like “Audi Snow,” “Audi Kids Pajamas,” “Retro Audi History,” and the latest “Electric Audi.” This project is my yearly design-xperiment to see how far I can push the look and feel before it becomes unrecognizable from the brand.
Weapons of Design
My weapon of analog design is a good 2H pencil, Strathmore tracing paper, and an inkjet printer. Audi’s kit designs start this way each year. Dozens of sketches and revisions later the look and feel begins to take shape.
Connecting the Dots
The majority of cycling kits on the market are all about the color blocking, but that’s boring. This concept had to celebrate what Audi does best and wear it loud and proud. I illustrated each of Audi’s best selling models from different angles to make each car instantly recognizable.
The initial pattern was looking good but the first draft didn’t feel connected. I went back to my initial design research and this is where I was reminded of the iconic Best Buddies logo created by the one and only Keith Haring. I used characteristics of his iconic style like thicker line work and expressive lines to ramp up the energy of the pattern design and bring it back to the main event where soon enough 50+ pajama-clad riders partied down the coast.
Pre-War Racing Legends
To celebrate Audi’s 10th year as a premier sponsor of the Best Buddies, team stakeholders wanted the 2017 edition to be all about history. We chose to focus on the original Auto Union, a conglomeration of four German manufacturers immediately preceding the modern Audi. The Auto Union is widely known to have dominated not only GP car racing from 1934 onwards but set records that would take decades to beat.
I used some of the textures from the Pajama kit to create a race track that wrapped around the body. Racing around this track is the modern Audi R8 race machine and its historic predecessor the 1937 Type C hillclimber. The design of this kit was a production challenge, pushing us to work with a custom clothing designer to adjust the cut and fabric to accomplish a flawless wrap-around around effect.
Electrifying the Journey
The as yet to release 2018 edition of Audi’s Best Buddies kit design is all about their new electric model the e-Tron. While electric cars are nothing new, have they ever looked this good?
Two things inspired the concept of this kit: The neon + navy look and feel from the Tron movies and the color Audi chose to illuminate their grill ornament. Electric is in and I wanted to electrify the journey on which their drivers and riders embark. The seamless pattern is a series of illustrated strokes with a neon effect connected with the neon logo and plug.