Workbook: Car Rental Rethought

 

For the new Silvercar rental suite in Dallas, the design team created a look that suggests sleek, contemporary, efficiency. Image courtesy Silvercar.

For the new Silvercar rental suite in Dallas, the design team created a look that suggests sleek, contemporary, efficiency. Image courtesy Silvercar.

If you think about it, renting a car is one of the least-surprising parts of travel. You wait in line, hand over your credit card, get your keys and are on your way. No matter where you happen to be—Dallas, Los Angeles, New York—the process is pretty much the same. Enter Silvercar, a new concept in the car rental game with a design identity to match its innovative approach. You see, every car the company rents is silver (at the moment only 2013 Audi A4s) and every step of the process can be done via smartphone, from reservation to pick-up.

To create the first Silvercar rental suite, Rachel Guest, of Red Earth Designs, and Jeff Weiner, of PGAL, turned the typical design on its head: “It’s a re-thinking of entire rental experience,” explains Weiner. To that end, everything in the Dallas suite suggests a sleek efficiency and emphasizes movement rather than stasis.

At the entrance, a curved and illuminated wall, covered in silver metal, beckons walk-ins and suggests the sinuous lines of the cars available. The carpet, a requirement the airport authorities put in place, is black on one side, gray on the other and a mix of the two in between, evokes the open road. It also serves as a dividing piece for the suite. On one side, customers who’ve already reserved their cars can zip straight through to the pick-up area. (Overhead, the design team placed lights in parallel lines reminiscent of a freeway or an airport runway.)

On the other side of carpet, the team installed kiosks (paneled in a burl wood you’d find in a luxury car), lit from below, which hold iPads. These stations allow new customers a place to reserve cars and get help from the staff. More curved, silver forms move across the ceiling and terminate there, a move that serves, notes Guest, “as a wayside and something more intimate.”

Beginning to end, the design is something “You experience as very smooth, simple, easy and modern,” says Guest.

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