Each year for the past 10 years, the Design Challenge theme is chosen by the DesignLA Board of Directors. The board is made up of a dozen design studio executives.  Automotive design studios from around the world are invited to participate and this year, studios from Germany, Japan and the U.S. will compete to design “Biomimicry & Mobility 2025: Nature’s Answer to Human Challenges.”  With biological knowledge doubling every five years, designers now have the instruments and the capacity to mimic nature like never before.  Nature is becoming one of the best R&D labs we know.  This year’s Design Challenge asks automotive design studios to design a vehicle experience that uses biomimicry to increase the efficiency of our human capacity and improve mobility.  The winning entry will identify issues facing mobility like congestion, pollution, sustainability, flexibility and safety and to design a mobility solution that mimics nature to solve the challenges.

Entries are judged based on various factors including:

· Creative adaptation of nature’s laws (plants & animals)
· Application of human intelligence to biomimicry in unique ways to improve the efficiency of future vehicles
· Comfort, convenience, aesthetics of the vehicle
· Sustainability of the building, servicing, operation, and life cycle
· The personality of the vehicle in relationship to the brand

Design LA Sponsors 






Tom Matano

Executive Director, School of Industrial Design, Academy of Art University

Tom Matano has almost 30 years of experience in the automotive design industry. In 1983, he joined Mazda’s North American studio as a Chief Designer and become VP of Design and EVP of Western Operations for Mazda R&D North America, Inc., and Executive Designer & Director of Mazda North American Operations. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Matano has been moved to Mazda headquarters in Japan, as an Executive Designer in the Global Advance Studio, oversees Japan, Europe and North American Advance studios, and the General Manager of Mazda Design in charge of the Chief Designers. His accomplishments at Mazda include the RX 7, Miata, and many other projects by the design teams he managed and created. Mr. Matano is committed to becoming an educator, and using his diverse knowledge and experience to enhance the Industrial Design program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.


Stewart Reed

Chair, Transportation Design, Art Center College of Design

Mr. Reed launched his career in transportation design by joining Meyers Manx, then Toyota’s Calty Design Research studio from 1980 to 1986 as Chief Designer. From 1986 to 1994, he served as VP of Design for Prince Corporation in Holland, Michigan, where he built a highly respected design team. In 1994, Mr. Reed created Stewart Reed Design to consult to the manufacturing industry in both automotive and consumer products. In 2005, Stewart Reed joined Art Center College of Design as Chairman of Transportation Design, enhancing the College’s already strong relationship with the automotive industry.


Dr. Gabriel A. Miller

Director of Research & Development, Centre for Bioinspiration, San Diego Zoo Global

Dr. Gabriel A. Miller (Gabe), is devoted to the implementation of nature’s design and engineering solutions to advance humanity, wildlife, and habitats. As part of a team based at the San Diego Zoo, he helps connect organizations to biological problem-solving through interactive workshops. After initial coursework in mechanical engineering, Gabe went on to pursue a double major in biology and chemistry (B.S. with Honors, Caltech) before working in a laboratory studying the neural basis of innate and learned fear in wild Japanese mice. Curious about other animal behaviors, he investigated how Brazilian hummingbirds learn to sing (M.S., Neuroscience, Duke University School of Medicine). He was awarded a Ph.D. in Zoology in 2008 from Oxford University for his investigation of locust swarming in Australia. Before joining San Diego Zoo Global, as a Postdoctoral Prize Fellow at Harvard University, Gabe studied cooperative relationships between species, conducting ecology fieldwork for three seasons in the Peruvian Amazon. In parallel with these biological activities, Gabe is sometimes commissioned as a portrait, wedding, and nature photographer. His work has appeared in several magazines including Nature and National Geographic.


John Manoogian II

Adjunct Professor Auto Design Studio at the College for Creative Studies

John Manoogian II, a Detroit native, earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Product/Industrial Design from Michigan State University, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Transportation Design from Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, and an MBA Degree from Oakland University in Michigan. He also completed the Columbia University Senior Executive Program in New York City. Mr. Manoogian began his professional career as a designer and clay sculptor at the Ford Motor Company. In 1976, Mr. Manoogian joined General Motors as a Creative Designer in the Oldsmobile Exterior Studio. Subsequently he served as Assistant Chief Designer for Cadillac, Saturn, and Pontiac Exteriors, before becoming Chief Designer Pontiac Exteriors, responsible for Pontiac Grand Prix and Grand Am. He then went on to become Chief Designer for the exteriors of the Buick Lucerne, Chevrolet Impala, and the Cadillac DTS. Mr. Manoogian’s final assignment at GM from 2003-2009 was Director of Exterior Design for Cadillac, where he was responsible for the award winning 2008 CTS sedan, the Best Concept Car Design Award winning CTS Coupe show car and production vehicle, the CTS sport wagon , and the V varients of the CTS lineup. He was also responsible for the 2005 and2009 USA Presidential Limousines. Mr. Manoogian left General Motors Design in January 2009,after 32 years. He recently formed Forzablitz Design, a creative solutions design consultancy. Currently he is an Adjunct Professor Auto Design Studio, at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Mi., teaching the next generation of designers and innovators the fine art of Vehicle Design. He is a design consultant for several automotive clients, and does speaking engagements, and media appearances talking about transportation and design.


Abel Sampson

Publisher, Design Group of CarDesignNews

Abel started his automotive career working for the publication “Automotive Interior” in 1987, and was the Associate Publisher of “Automotive Interior International” magazine and the “InterAuto Show” in Cologne. He had a brief departure from the industry between 2000-2002 and worked for news channel ITN to create its “ITN Archive Division.”  In 2002, he was reintroduced to the automotive industry to launch a B2B title focusing on interior design, from which “Interior Motives” magazine was born. Leading the interior design team he established the Interior Motives Awards, Interior Motives Conferences in Europe and China and Interior Motives GM, Chrysler and Nissan editions. In 2008, he was involved in the integration of Car Design News into the design group and launched Design Nights in Geneva, Beijing and Shanghai along with the CDN China Awards and the GM, OV and GM PATAC Interactive Competitions.

designpartyDesign LA | Designers’ Night Party
6:00-8:30 pm

After the Design Challenge awards, join more than 500 stellar designers for the annual Designer Night Party. It takes place in the South Hall Lobby of the convention center. Guests credentialed for Press Days in the “Design” category are cordially invited to this special affair. Guests will have the opportunity to savor artful bites crafted by culinary ingénues from MTV’s all-new challenge show, Food School. After the party guests are welcome to walk the entire show floor.