Small is definitely better - as far as a group of Preston students are concerned.
Budding designers from the University of Central Lancashire are working with local caravan firm Lunar to shape the micro-caravan of the future.
A group of students from several courses across the university are looking at ways to make caravanning more appealing to a younger audience by coming up with smart interiors, multi-functional fittings and energy efficient ideas for future designs with a particular focus on small caravans.
A prototype micro-caravan has been delivered to the Preston campus for the students to test out their ideas before giving it back to the company next year.
As a result the final year undergraduate product design students and postgraduate interior design and surface pattern design students are working on a real-life industry project and will potentially see their designs manufactured by Lostock Hall-based Lunar.
Final year student Urte Jurkeviciute said: “I am looking at ways to open up the caravan space and align it more closely with nature.
“With clever use of space and lighting I want to make a small space feel much bigger and airy.”
She added: “It’s fantastic that we have a full-size prototype to work on. It makes it much easier to test our designs and helps us to visualise our ideas.
“It’s exciting to work with an industry client and have the chance of seeing my work manufactured by them. It’s the ideal grounding for my future career.”
Product Design course leader Graham Hill said: “The project has allowed all of the students to work with a genuine client and get feedback from industry designers, which is invaluable. Our students will bring fresh eyes to it and Lunar has encouraged them to think freely and not be constrained by current design trends.
“Although we are still in the middle of the project we’re already seeing exciting ideas from students across all courses who are coming up with creative solutions to making small spaces work efficiently, producing energy smart vehicles and devising special functionality designs that will ultimately mean a person can tailor a caravan design to suit their individual needs.”
Lunar has been operating for 46 years and has a wide international market.
Chairman and chief executive Brian Mellor said: “We are a very proud Preston company so it gives us great pleasure to be associated with our city’s university and working together for the good of local students, local business and the community.”
MA Interior Design course leader Steve Bennett added: “This collaboration fits in with the university’s ethos to engage with businesses and communities to prepare our students for the real world. I hope this is just the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership.”
The students will showcase their final designs later next year when Lunar will also decide whether to take any ideas forward.
The university’s fashion brand management students have also worked with Lunar Caravans to do some customers research to analyse the caravan market.