Graduate of Sligo IT, David Caffrey, was in Ireland this week to showcase his most recent work, the Audi Q5, at the new Audi Centre in Ballsbridge, Dublin. David, based in Germany for the past ten years, is one of the senior designers for Audi and was responsible for the design of the new Audi Q5, from conception to completion.
David still has deep associations with Sligo IT where he is involved with the organisation and running of a design project, led by Audi, for Creative Design students in Sligo IT and at third level colleges in Milan and Munich. The project gives students the opportunity to create fresh and innovative ideas for the transportation sector and is part of Audi’s commitment to seed design talent in Ireland.
David left school at the age of 16 to work in his father’s panel beating garage in Dublin’s city centre. However, he returned a year later to complete his Leaving Certificate to enable him to fulfil his desire to study art and design.
After a one year portfolio course at Ballyfermot Senior College, David had caught the design bug and went on to do a three year diploma in Industrial Design in Sligo IT. He then continued his studies at the University of Derry where he researched and developed a fold up scooter that could be put into a back pack as part of his degree in Product Design. After some time off he then went back to do a masters in Automotive Design at Coventry University in the UK.
David landed a job at Audi when he came across a notice in a magazine about how Audi were looking for students to do a six month work placement. Despite having finished his education a year previously, David applied and got the job. He started working for Audi in February 2000, firstly as an interior designer, where he had a big influence on the current Audi Q3, and then as an exterior designer.
The Audi Q5 began as a sketch by David in 2005 and he worked on bringing this sketch to life for over three and a half years. Speaking about the development of the Audi Q5, David said, “At the time there were already a lot of SUVs on the road, but they all looked chunky and brutal, and a bit out of place in the city. My idea was to design a sporty SUV that would not look out of place on a shopping high street or for that matter in a field.”
On working for Audi David says “To be inside a design studio is an unimaginable experience. It's a bit like being on a film set. There is wall to wall of the most incredible art work I've ever seen. In one studio there is a line of full sized clay cars that are being modeled perfectly and in another studio there is a row of interior models that are modeled down to every little detail; even the stitching on the seats are carefully modeled”.
Later this year David plans to move to LA, where Audi have a concept design studio. He says, “We are at a very critical time in the automotive industry. Audi is at the forefront of innovative design, and I have the opportunity at Audi to push the boundaries and find exciting solutions to future problems.”