Car designers study in Torino: IAAD di Transportation design department

IAAD department of “Car Body Architecture” first in Italy opened in Turin in 1978.
Since 2008 the Department of “Transportation design is entitled in memory of Andrea Pininfarina. Since 2016, Giorgetto Giugiaro is its President and Maestro.

The specialization in Transportation design deals with the study of the main means of transport with a focus on mobility systems and environmental sustainability.

Designing a vehicle does not just mean giving birth to a show car. The aim of the course is to train aware designers, transmitting them the importance of knowing the referring market and the society that embodies it: designing today must take into account technological, social, marketing needs, budget constraints and environmental sustainability.

Designing is about allowing people to continue moving from one place to another efficiently, even having fun, but limiting as much as possible the environmental and economic impacts.

Transportation design syllabus provides a foundation disciplines such as history and criticism of design, to move gradually to more specific subjects such as theory of perception, Gestalt psychology, basic design, science and technology of materials, techniques of representation, design of the product system, car design, motorcycle and scooter design… And then, of course, free-hand drawing software and aid in the design, such as Photoshop, Alias and Rhino.

Torino and car design

Turin is the undisputed world capital of automotive design and one of the centres of excellence in the international automotive industry: the great Italian production of Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, the design of Giugiaro and Pininfarina, Bertone, the automotive innovation of Centro Ricerche Fiat, the robotic technologies of DEA, Comau and Rambaudi, the innovation of Oxygen (electric alternative mobility), not to mention an enormous satellite activities that serves not only Fiat, but almost all of the major car manufacturers in Europe and the world. To confirm this today also Chinese design companies choose Turin as European seat.

Thanks to this important supply chain, IAAD Transportation design department is flanked by a pool of important partner companies both public and private, which contribute to the activation of research projects, special lectures, workshops and seminars, company visits, educational activities and internships.

IAAD has also many partnerships with international companies like Renault, Yamaha, Ducati, Volkswagen, Piaggio, Honda, Mercedes… offering its students several opportunities to work alongside leading international experts.


I level Academic Diploma in Design (DIPL02)
Specialization in Design of Transportation means

Three-year course syllabus

scientific-academic area

learning environment


Sciences of communication

Design semiotics

Representation methods and tools

– Projective geometry

– Geometrical drawing

History and culture of design

– History of arts and techniques

– History and critique of design

Mathematics and physical sciences

Design physics

Science and technology of materials

Science and technology of materials




Product design

– Composition

– Product design

– Transportation design

Systems design

Mobility design

Product engineering

Product engineering

Basic Design

Basic Design

Production technologies

– Production technologies

– Product life-cycle evaluation





Multimedia elements



Sociology and anthropology of design

Sociology of design

Sciences and languages of perception

Visual research

Economy and enterprise management


Professional activity management

Professional activity management

Image graphic design

Image graphic design

Communication design

Communication design

Analysis and representation of shape and project


Project representation and communication techniques




English language












total CREDITS 180

Transportation design, schedule for the current academic year

The opening of the academic year is expected in the first week of October, with the usual ceremony.

The ordinary lessons begin 1 week after, according to the time-schedule, and take place from Monday to Friday, while activities on Saturday can occasionally be inserted. Any extraordinary lectures and seminars are provided with due notice.

Lessons ordinarily follow the schedule published on the Notice Board before the beginning of each semester.

It’s a good idea to check the daily schedule posted on the Notice Board to check for any changes and classrooms in which lessons take place.


Inauguration A.Y. 2016-2017
– 2nd and 3rd years: October 6th 2016
– 1st years: October 15th 2016

I Semester
– 2nd and 3rd years: October 12th 2016 / January 22nd 2017
– 1st years: October 17th 2016 / January 28th 2017

Design Workshop – only 2nd and 3rd years
– February 13th 2017 / February 17th 2017

II Semester
– February 20th 2017 / May 27th 2017

Exams and thesis:
– I ordinary session: February 6th to 11th 2017
– II ordinary session: June 12th to 21st 2017 (1st and 2nd years)
– II ordinary session: June 12th to 17th 2017 (3rd years)
– I extraordinary session: June 5th to 10th 2017
– II extraordinary session: September 2017
– Thesis Ordinary Session: June 26th / July 20th 2017

Weeks off ordinary lessons:
– February 13th to 18th 2017 (1st years)
– January 30th / 4th 2017 (2nd and 3rd years)
– June 19th to 24th 2017

During these weeks, students are required to ensure the availability to participate in any additional classes or catch lessons.

The schedule is subject to changes which will be duly communicated.

Transportation design, information about exam session of the current academic year

Students are admitted to the examination sessions (2 per academic year) only if they are up to date with payments, are not over the minimum attendance required and – if any – have successfully passed the midterm checks for each subject.

In case of failure of one or more examinations in the ordinary session, students will have access to the call of the extraordinary exam sessions (2 per academic year).

The procedures to access the exam sessions are contained in the Institute Regulation, given annually to students and available at the Didactic Office.

Exams and thesis:
– 1st ordinary session: February 8th to 12th 2016
– 2nd ordinary session: June 13th to 21st 2016 (1st and 2nd years)
– 2nd ordinary session: June 13th to 17th 2016 (3rd years)
– 1st extraordinary session: June 6th to 10th 2016
– 2nd extraordinary session: September 2016
– Thesis Ordinary Session: June 27th to July 20th 2016

Transportation design, thesis

To achieve the qualification at the end of the third year of the course, IAAD students must submit two theses: a Specialization thesis and an Individual thesis, in addition to the Personal Portfolio.

The Specialization thesis different for each specialization, to be carried out in working groups, is the realization of a project specified by the Institute, consistent with the various issues of the syllabus.

The Specialization thesis is held under the supervision of the Department Co-ordinator and the 3rd year professors, with the support of external interventions – partner companies and their referents.

The Individual Thesis consists of an individual project that the student will perform in total autonomy, identifying a theme, a partner with its referent (External Mentor) and a supervisor in the faculty IAAD (Academic Mentor).

The ordinary session of the thesis is planned for each year in July.

In Transportation course is taught automotive design?

Of course it is, but not only. If so, we would talk about Car Design, but the speech is also extends to motorcycles, scooters, trucks, bicycles, trains, helicopters… We are interested in everything that is capable of transporting people and goods from one place to another, of course with a focus on the car. Add to that the focus on the new mobility systems and environmental sustainability, and then you’ve hit the point..

What about the sustainable mobility?

Designing a vehicle does not mean only to give birth to another turbocharged fuel exaggerated bomb car. Our goal is not only to train skilled designers, but also to pass on to future designers the importance of the knowledge about market and society that expresses it and the concepts which it’s better to learn to deal with. You don’t design in the vacuum: you must take into account technological and social changes, marketing needs, budget constraints and the need to protect the environment.
Furthermore, design is about allowing people to continue moving from one place to another in an efficient manner, perhaps even having fun, but by limiting as much as possible the environmental and economic impacts. We are talking about air pollution, noise, traffic, parking and road accidents, daily experiences which we would rather avoid, and new and more comfortable, useful and less invasive to the environment where we all live.

In Transportation design we study all this?

Exactly, but we need a clarification. The specialization in Transportation opens, in fact, two possible characterizations: “Transportation design  – Car, motorcycle and scooter” and “Design of sustainable mobility and transportation means”. The base is common, while the two specializations deepen different and complementary aspects: there’s a certain number of credits for one or the other way. It must be said that while students focus more on Transportation design in itself, those of Sustainable Mobility deal too much infrastructure, networks and system that are ‘around’ the vehicle.
The course as a whole is structured to provide everything you need to become a professional with a capital P.
We start the engine (in Transportation design we start the engine, we don’t simply start) with a history and criticism of design before moving to disciplines such as theory of perception, Gestalt psychology, basic design, science and technology of materials, techniques of representation, system design product… And then, of course, freehand drawing and software to help design such as Photoshop for 2D graphicsAlias and Rhino for representing 3D graphics and mathematics.


Calm down and stop crying wolf. We understand that the ideas of mathematics can evocate bleak scenarios. Here no one expects to see the new Euler or an expert in calculus enter the classroom. In transportation mathematics correspond to the creation of a vehicle in 3D with special programs such as Rhino or Alias. However all courses start from zero and you move on together, taking care not to leave anyone too far behind.

Yes, but I do not like math, I like drawing, building models…

Do not worry, even if the virtual environment is an important aspect for professionals in transportation design, the ability to do with your hands is held in high esteem. If you really like to build the models we find bread for your teeth. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated than what you’ve done at home so far, but nothing insurmountable.
The work in modelling is one of the qualifying aspects of Transportation Design.

Since I was a child I spent hours and hours drawing cars and motorcycles, my parents say I am obsessed. Should I be worried?

Far from it! Almost all transportation designers are a bit maniac, let’s face it. For some reason, if one plans houses, lamps or juicer is usually a ‘passionate’ intellectual, but if he designs cars is a ‘fanatic’ who stays up at night to design dream cars and when he goes to sleep he dreams for real. We do not know why transportation means induce this sacred mania in some people, perhaps it depends on the feeling of power, social status attached to cars and motorcycles … What counts is the result: is all this passion aimed to design vehicles and functional? Well!
Of course there are also very good transportation designer who dream sheep by night and by day prefer to use rubber rather than drifting in the streets of the world. Well even so. Each professional has his own personality.

Besides the passion, what other qualities are considered essential?

For example, education and respect. IAAD is a microcosm, a community, maybe more exciting and lively than others, but still governed by the rules of civil coexistence. Bad-mannered and rude not go far. And if you now think “yes, okay, the usual flak…” you’re wrong. Good education is used to one thing: to keep barbarism at the door. And remember that a designer is never a barbarian, on the other hand he stands out above all for its level of civilization.
That said, a transportation designer needs to have an open mind, a vigilant and careful glance about the future, about new technologies, materials and alternative energy sources in order to be able to anticipate trends and market needs. A designer is inevitably an avant-garde, a precursor. Designers are forced to go to the heart of things.
And then, last but not least, he needs 3D imagination…

3D imagination?

Do you know Marvel comics with all those super powers? Well, basically also the transportation designer has his superpower. You do not need to go walking on skyscrapers or eradicate the light poles. It helps you to create three-dimensional objects in motion with strong aesthetic values. It is the ability to ‘see’ the volumes in mind from the beginning, ‘feel’ the proportions of an object in space before you run a rendering or make a model. It may seem trivial, but few people have this ability from birth: Giorgetto Giugiaro, for instance, is one of them – and luckily is also an important observer of our students. The good news is that, within certain limits, this superpower is acquired and perfected with a heap of study, application, practice and experience.

The university is based in Turin, so I guess you do a lot of visits…

In fact IAAD is based in Turin, which is the undisputed world capital of automotive design and one of the centres of excellence in the international automotive industry: the great Italian production of Fiat, LanciaAlfa Romeo and Ferrari, the design of Giugiaro and Pininfarina, Bertone, the automotive innovation of Centro Ricerche Fiat, the robotic technologies of DEAComau and Rambaudi, the innovation of Oxygen (electric alternative mobility), not to mention an enormous satellite activities that serves not only Fiat, but almost all of the major car manufacturers in Europe and the world. To confirm this today also Chinese design companies choose Turin as European seat.
It’s not unexpected that a milieu of this type offers huge opportunities, not only for visits, but also and especially for real collaborations that keep students engaged during the entire three-year period.
It should also be noted that IAAD triggered fruitful partnerships with companies that are not directly present in the Turin and Piedmont, such as Renault, Yamaha, Ducati, Volkswagen, Piaggio, Honda, Mercedes … The opportunities to work at the side of the leading international experts are not lacking.
Also keep in mind that IAAD Car Body Architecture Department, born in 1978, was the first of its kind in Italy and, while boasting a number of imitation attempts, it remains unmatched to this day. If you think that we are self-incensing, well, ask someone ‘of the trade’. If we are denied, we offer to drink.

Giorgetto Giugiaro
President and Maestro of IAAD IAAD Transportation design departmentIAAD_Giugiaro_web

Giorgetto Giugiaro is the designer of the century, a jury of journalists from around the world has officially crowned the “Car Designer of the Century” (Los Angeles 1999). That of Giugiaro is, in fact, a professional experience that crossed the industrial destiny of all the biggest car brands.

The problem to devote to students has always been the time, a luxury in a job like mine. I will do it gladly with the certainty that my efforts will be amply rewarded by their successes. Students need to dream and this needs a solid foundation. I’ll be there, and as always, I will do it with passion. Giving a university space will also be a way to continue the dialogue with the world of culture and with its actors who have proved attentive to the future and to the continuous changes – says Giugiaro.