February 23, 2021

The Renault 5 Prototype, the wink is in the headlights (episode 2)

After a first episode devoted to the reinterpretation of the cult look of the original R5, we take another look backstage at Renault Design. In the spotlight, François Leboine, Director of Design Concept and Show-Cars at Renault. He explains how to succeed in the retro-futuristic exercise carried out on the Renault 5 Prototype, building a bridge between past and present.  

Revive good memories, "provoke a smile", that's what François Leboine wanted with the Renault 5 Prototype. Responsible for concept cars and show cars at Renault, he looks back at the development of the prototype's headlights, which, he confides to us, embody all the work done on the car. To do this, he used a well-oiled method that he agreed to unveil to us. 

If I had to choose a particular element that symbolizes all the work done on the Renault 5 Prototype, it's definitely the headlights. 

The original R5 in all its forms as a starting point  

Before starting any creative process, you need material. The first step, called analytical, was to gather archives to analyse, understand, decompose the original vehicle. To grasp its very essence. Photos, sketches by the original designer Michel Boué, period magazines, fascicles and brochures, made it possible to study the mythical R5 from all angles. A vehicle loaned by Renault Classic also helped to better understand certain elements such as the famous headlights. 

We really capitalized on the history of Renault and the R5 in particular, which had this special sympathy with people and this perfectly recognizable mischievous look.

Then the designers draw the first sketches on paper, like cartoonists who try to capture what makes a face's personality. "The sketches captured the fundamental elements that needed to be retained to reproduce the mischievous look of the original R5", explains François Leboine. Then, the designers moved on to a graphic palette to define proportions, contours, the distance between the headlights, to find the expression, the smiling look of the 1970s R5. 

Back to the future or the shifting method 

After analysing graphic characteristics and working on proportions, designers operate what is called a shift: a method that consists of taking an object and tilting it into another world. "They're going to use all the graphic work from previous research, mixing it with the mood board research and codes from today's objects to project the design details into a futuristic world." For the Renault 5 Prototype, the designers were inspired by the worlds of aeronautics, architecture, product design and even electronics.  

Thanks to this method of shifting visual codes, the prototype's headlights have become true technological and futuristic elements. As for the fog lights that were often added at the time, they took a leap into the future. They were transformed into daytime running lights fully integrated into the front bumper.  

It was really important that the Renault 5 Prototype was not just a slavish copy of the past, but that it really was a vehicle that contained the elements of the future.

The final step: the encounter  

Finally, comes the encounter, the ultimate step for designers. The one that allows them to know if their work is successful. "Everything we've done, it’s the reaction of the people around us which determines if we've hit the bull's eye, if we've brought the R5 back to life or if it was a failure", explains François Leboine.  

"The reaction of the internal people was already telling us that the car was going to be a success, but in the end it exceeded our expectations."

The Renault 5 Prototype has indeed received a very warm and unanimous welcome. Whether on the headlights or on the whole vehicle, the treatment of the lines and the futuristic details were very much appreciated. With the Renault 5 Prototype, the emblematic model of Renault's heritage now has a worthy heiress. A modern car, full of charm and in tune with the times.  

Renault’s DNA respected, a successful projection into the future: mission accomplished!  

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