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Pininfarina and BORN: Physical and Digital

1 month ago

By sangeetha m

When a Sister says, We Move Dreams 

Bold, authentic and beautiful is how BORN Group CEO Dilip Keshu describes our agency. These are epithets that could also be used to describe a sister enterprise in our parent company’s fold. We are referring to the renowned Italian design house Pininfarina S.p.A that is synonymous with excellence in car design. It has built its reputation as an emblem of Italian style with its iconic car design for marques such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and BMW. Headquartered in Turin, Italy, the company celebrates 90 years of existence this year.

Founded by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina in 1930, the company has gone from being a coachbuilder to designing some of the most enduring, sensual and sculpted shapes in automotive history including a majority of Ferrari cars for over half a century. Battista’s nephew Nino was in fact the first Formula One world champion. 

Using storytelling and design to craft user experiences is a BORN specialism. We like that Pininfarina’s story has always included the idea of timeless Italian style and design. Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina has very eloquently said: “You ask me what Italian style means. It means sense of proportion, simplicity and harmony of line, such that after a considerable time, there is still something which is more alive than just a memory of beauty.”

Pininfarina’s activities focused on design, engineering services, conception and production of unique cars or in very small series. It was also one of the first companies that invested in technology. Under Battista Farina’s son Sergio, the company made forays into automated bodywork design, which led to it building the world’s first wind tunnel to test full size-cars in 1972. Sergio Pininfarina has said: “The beauty of the shape is the result of a deep engagement aimed to reach the highest quality and the design is itself the meeting point between shape and technology, taste and functionality. Nothing seems to be more apt to the so-called Italian genius than this permanent tension to harmonize beauty and functionality.”  

Under Sergio’s son Andrea, the company even presented a concept electric car at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show called the Bluecar for Bollore, which presaged the rush to build electric cars from 2008 onwards.

BORN understands the idea of transformation well as it helps customers stay relevant in the face of changing market and technological trends. Pininfarina itself has left no stone unturned in transforming itself in recent decades. The company has extended its ‘PURA’ design philosophy which balances creativity and engineering and guided by its brand values of elegance, purity, and innovation, from transportation design into award-winning industrial design, architecture and interiors. 

Aside from the cars, yachts, trains, buses and aircraft that they have are a core competency, Pininfarina has lent its name to electronics, sports goods, furnishings, equipment and machinery, consumer goods, and graphic design and packaging. Vision, the fluid and seamless kitchen designed for Snaidero and the refined and ergonomic Stile cookware line for Mepra won Good Design Awards in 2019. 

Like at BORN, the design teams work within the framework of the Pininfarina process, which is continuously updated to incorporate new technologies. They even offer services in areas BORN considers home territory – customer experience design and user interface design.

“Pininfarina has always had the passion for new technologies. Design is the instrument to humanize innovation,” said current Chairman Paolo Pininfarina, Andrea’s brother, who has gone on record saying that even the interior of a bus has to be as safe and comfortable like the interior of a kitchen. Pininfarina, in collaboration with Green Motion, Swiss manufacturer of electric vehicle charging systems is redefining “aesthetic standards” for charging equipment. 

This marriage of creativity and innovation was also evident in the announcement last year of one the most powerful road-ready cars ever to be made by Pininfarina. Usually the preserve of racing car brands, the concept car is named the Battista after the founder, who in deference to his customers never built a Pininfarina-branded car. It is an electric hyper GT – or in common parlance, an ultra-high-performance sports car, and comes with a monster 1900bhp of power. Already the winner of the prestigious GQ Electric Hypercar of the Year Award, it will make its world premiere at next month’s Geneva Motor Show and will be built later this year for 150 lucky customers.

The pivot to electric cars, though, came after the takeover of the company by the Indian transportation and technology giant Mahindra & Mahindra and its subsidiary Tech Mahindra in 2015. “Pininfarina is a hell of a story. But it is an unfinished story,” said Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd Anand Mahindra at the time. “Mahindra will help Pininfarina finish that story and dream of having a ‘Pininfarina’ badged car.”

Mahindra has some experience with electric vehicles – group company Mahindra Racing is the only Indian team to compete in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Mahindra Racing now has a partnership with Tech Mahindra and Pininfarina, giving it access to Pininfarina’s design expertise as well as Tech Mahindra’s digital technology capabilities. Such cross-collaboration is what we at BORN embody within the company and hope to be a part of at Tech Mahindra too.

Pininfarina may be Italian at its core but it is also a deeply international company, spread out over the globe with offices in Italy, Germany, China and the United States. Clearly clients all around the world buy into its current strapline: ‘We move dreams.’ We at BORN can get behind that one too.

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