UCLan works with Lunar Caravans to create van of the future

Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are working with local caravan company Lunar Caravans to create the micro van of the future.

The design 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, multifunctional fittings and energy efficient ideas for future designs with a particular focus on small caravans.

Lunar, which has been trading for 46 years and reaches an international market, has created and delivered a prototype micro caravan to the Preston campus specifically for the UCLan students to test out their ideas before presenting back to the company next year.

Lunar chairman and CEO Brian Mellor commented: “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.”

The collaborative venture means that the final year undergraduate product design students and postgraduate interior design and surface pattern design students can work on a real-life industry projects and potentially see their designs manufactured by Lunar in the future.

Graham Hill, product design course leader, 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.”

UCLan final year product design student Urte Jurkeviciute is already working on her designs. She said: “I’m 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.”

“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.”

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. In addition, students studying fashion brand management have also worked with Lunar Caravans to conduct initial customer demographics research to analyse the caravan market.