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Mike Simonian & Maaike Evers

What is this? A concept for a car that drives itself, designed by a celebrated minimalist design firm whose partners conceived the Xbox 360 and early Android phones.

Why design it? "The driving experience hasn't changed much in 50 years. Safety and performance have improved, but driving remains basically the same," says Mike Simonian, who runs the studio with his partner, Maaike Evers.

Who commissioned it? Nobody. But look at that interior! Simonian explains, "We asked ourselves, What is the ultimate driving experience? Each person in our studio had a different idea of their dream driving experience, but what was consistent was none of these idealistic visions
really involved driving at all."

Sweet. Will it be made? Maybe. Probably not.

So again, why design it? Because assigning themselves a for-spec project--something Simonian and Evers do all the time--stretches their team beyond where paying clients may ask to go. That helps identify new frontiers. The goal, says Simonian, is to "separate our creative aspirations from our finances."

What did they learn here? "For centuries, we controlled our machines with levers, then knobs, then buttons, and finally displays on the machines themselves," he says. Now, he believes, controls will move off the machines and into mobile devices. "Just about every product category is ripe for substantial change."