The time traveller

The 32 year-old exterior designer Jason Battersby lives and breathes his work at the Ingolstadt Design Centre - and he has a burning passion for Star Wars.

09/05/2018 Reading Time: 4 min

The 32 year-old exterior designer Jason Battersby lives and breathes his work at the Ingolstadt Design Centre - and he has a burning passion for Star Wars. Over a period of four months, he recreated the TIE Fighter Starfighter model in his spare time. His adopted city of Munich provided Battersby with the necessary inspiration - and Audi gave him the freedom.

Your eyes travel through time and space, taking in a glass display cabinet containing handcrafted model vehicles and enamel signs from the automobile industry. On one sign, the Auto Union celebrates Bernd Rosemeyer's world record in a Silver Arrow. In 1937, the Type C streamlined racing car reached over 400 km/h on the motorway between Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt. The bolide was a very futuristic design back then, which caused a real sensation. Next to the display case is a small bookshelf that draws us into the future. Titles such as The Dark Knight Trilogy, Batmobile - The Complete History, The Art of Star Wars or The Illustrated Star Wars Universe stand side by side. The row of books is propped up by a volume of Shakespeare's Dramas the works from modern times. It quickly becomes obvious that the master of the house must be a passionate time traveller. One who honours the past but looks to the future - and likes to imagine how it will look.

Tomorrow in the now

Jason Battersby is sitting at the end of the room, engrossed in something on his desk. On the computer screen is a flying object from Star Wars, a "TIE Fighter", on which the designer has been spending his free time for the past four months. During this time, Battersby has devoted himself to the starfighter, and has reinterpreted it. Canadian by birth, Battersby loves to create. When time permits, the 32-year-old exterior designer either works on his home computer or else drifts through the vibrant city of Munich. Always with his sketchbook under his arm.


The Pinakothek der Moderne art gallery and the Santoloco skate and surf shop, which includes a fashionable café, are places that attract Battersby and allow him to recharge, he explains to us on the way there. "The Pinakothek collection is truly unique. Its international diversity always impresses me. You also absolutely have to see the Audi Design Wall!" he says enthusiastically. 1763 original Audi models made of aluminium, in a scale of 1:18, are fixed vertically to a wall and impressively demonstrate the DNA of the company: lightweight construction and quattro. While Battersby takes in the museum's New Collection, he talks about inspiration. This is something which he doesn't necessarily seek, but rather which finds him. "I am very grateful that my colleagues are open to everything and not just automobiles. And that we are given enough freedom to do what we want to do.


We often swap ideas and, ultimately, our day-to-day work benefits from each individual's personal passions. Everyone contributes something from his or her world, and together we might make an idea even better. The Design Centre is a think tank par excellence," according to Battersby.

Suddenly he pulls out his sketchbook and looks up at the museum's domed roof which strongly reminds him of the capsule of the TIE Fighter. Battersby sits down on the floor and guides his pencil over the blank sheet of paper. Again and again, he directs his gaze towards the skies of the Pinakothek. His affinity for Star Wars stems from his childhood days, as it does in so many cases. But Jason Battersby's view of George Lucas' blockbuster was different from the very beginning. While most Star Wars fans identify with one character or another, or eagerly anticipate the next lightsabre battle, Battersby's eyes are primarily on the modelled landscape and the conceptualised flying objects. He loves the whole substance of the space spectacle, the eighth part of which, The Last Jedi, is currently receiving its German premiere. Of course, Battersby already has two of the tickets: they sold out after only two days.

The Design Centre is a think tank par excellence

"I was particularly taken with the early sequels, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I love the films' elaborate handiwork, the handmade models - you can feel the passion of the film crew in every detail. It's just great!" Battersby says excitedly as he looks up at the domed roof of the Pinakothek.


The four-month procedure of creating his personal interpretation of the TIE Fighter was given the final polish by Battersby’s skills on the computer. From polygonal modelling to rendering, Battersby gave the finishing touches to the thing from outer space, too. "You can't think about future design without thinking outside your own discipline. It all comes together," explains Battersby.


"The team spirit and solidarity among colleagues at Audi is unique. Of course, I'm not the only fan of Star Wars, so apart from work I have been able to discuss the designs for my reinterpretation of the TIE Fighter - and see people's eyes sparkle," smiles the pilot of the project.


When can we wake you up, Mr Battersby? How about 2117?

Battersby was studying at the Umea Institute for Design in Sweden, among other places, when he came to Audi's attention. For his master's thesis, Battersby created a Cultural Achievement Award in the form of a futuristic Audi model. This bold design secured him a one-way ticket onto the concept design team. This was followed by an internship, in which Battersby even created an armchair called Luft (air), and was also significantly involved in the development of the Audi Wörthersee eBike. "Handling progressive design on a daily basis, and the fact that I am officially allowed to regularly project myself into the future from Ingolstadt, on behalf of Audi: now that's a real gift," said Battersby. "If I could choose when my alarm next went off, I would like to wake up exactly 100 years from tomorrow.


Audi would certainly be more complex than it is today. Of course there would still be cars, and maybe we'd be flying too, just like in Star Wars... In addition, Audi would certainly be a brand that helps people continue to be mobile, whether autonomously or not, but they would certainly find a solution, even if it's not directly to do with Audi," philosophises the exterior designer - as he continues travelling through the dome of the Pinakothek towards the future.


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