Finding the red thread: Christian Grajewski, freelance designer and full-time creative

Brandy Ryan March 2, 2022 4 min read
“The Mack”

Putting passion first.

This German designer has built an intriguing career that reinforces a “creativity first” mindset. With an education in product and conceptual design, experience with Alias, and an internship (September 2007-February 2008) at the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe GmbH, Christian believed he was set for the life of a permanent interior designer. He worked for almost eight years at the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe GmbH in this capacity, designing for companies such as Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat, Skoda and VW.

As much as he enjoyed the work and being part of the teams behind projects like the Lamborghini Estoque and Aventador, VW Milano Taxi, VW Taigun and the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6, something was missing. Working in Italy (Italdesign-Giugiaro) and in Potsdam exposed Christian to numerous incredible designers, engineers, Alias and clay modelers. Back when Christian was an intern, he discovered the work of Daniel Simon. Daniel’s automotive futurism showed Christian that the world of product and concept design was far broader and more imaginative than he could have guessed. Describing his own work as “a disruptive fusion of automotive styling, innovative engineering, and world-building aspiration,” Daniel’s vision can be summarized as a “Style for all Galaxies.”

For a young designer like Christian, encountering the work of a German designer like Daniel with such a vast vision for design was a game-changer. Christian dreamed of vehicles and worlds that didn’t exist, that weren’t bound to the commercial landscape. As he grew in his career and worked with various OEMs, this passion project kept calling him, offering the opportunity to dive into conceptual design on his own terms and really finesse his skills.

“The Goose”

In January 2016, he did just that, taking a one-year sabbatical to bring those images to life. Christian gave himself a gruelling design schedule: 4:30am – 7:00pm, twelve days in a row, with two days off to recharge in between, for a full year. Many of the images on his website come from that time. The creative output of that year ended up in a 400-page book of futuristic designs, which became the foundation for his book, Explorer: Futuristic Vehicles for Uncharted Lands, published by Design Studio Press.

Christian’s initial exploration of dividing his time between his own work and working with kindred collaborators was reinforced by a health crisis in 2017. “I came to realize that I really want to focus on my own designs and work for people who have a real vision, where I feel connected to the person and their team.”

Thus began Christian’s new way of life: time on his own conceptual design and time collaborating with like-minded designers and agencies. The time spent on pursuing his own vision and creativity paid off in other ways. As Christian began publishing his creatures and vehicles online, agencies came calling.

One of them was autonomous robotic start-up Zoox, an agency approaching vehicle design with riders, rather than drivers, as the primary UX. Christian ascribes his ability to jump in with the Zoox team to his Alias expertise:

“Lucky me that I knew Alias, because I could design what they needed in Alias and it’s just way faster. If you design and you can actually build production-like quality, especially in the concept phase, you don’t need Class A. Because you can just jump in and help whoever needs it. It was a huge, huge help for me and for Zoox. Alias is the red thread, the through line.”

Christian Grajewski

If Alias is the red thread of his design work, his passion is the red thread of his design philosophy. Christian acknowledges that this life isn’t for everyone. Working on his own time means relying on his savings, and that’s a more frugal life than some people would enjoy.

“I get some requests for work, but like I said, I get to decide if I take it. So I’ve become accustomed to living on less money, rather than working just to pay for expensive lifestyle. I’ve completely changed my mindset without those things. I have a good life, and I can’t complain at all. This is a low-profile life, but I can actually do as much on one of my projects the next year as I want to, because it’s more important now.”

Christian Grajewski
“The Frog”

Christian continues to divide his time between small commercial projects—including some movie and tv work—and his next book. That project aims to bring the scene to life, really building out the world around his creatures and vehicles. Instrumental to that work? Alias and Fusion 360.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we hear more about the crucial role that Alias has played in Christian’s designs. And bookmark the Autodesk Design Studio blog for other stories, resources, and tips. You can also subscribe to our VRED YouTube, Alias YouTube and follow us on Facebook.

Christian Grajewski a professional vehicle, automotive interior and Industrial Designer. He divides his time between his passion projects and designing for like-minded start-ups and entertainment projects. You can see more of Christian’s work on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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