Tomorrow Bureau designs a fictional car inspired by Formula One

For the past two years, the studio has been chugging away at a large-scale speculative project – including made-up characters and stories about their lives.

27 April 2022

Catching up with the team at Tomorrow Bureau is always an exciting thing to do. Not least in the fact that they’re constantly churning out outrageously good projects, but when they do, they seem to completely baffle all of us – in the best way possible.

Last year it was a campaign exploring the possibilities of robotics, and this year, it’s Coffinfish. A speculative design project, the studio has explored the design languages and aesthetics from the world of Formula One. Now, don’t start believing that this is a real car, because it isn’t. It’s completely fictional and so is the storyline. “For this project,” explains James Earls, one half of the studio, “we wanted the focal point to be centred around an original car design that felt futuristic, aggressive and stealthy while retaining the F1 racing car DNA.” To do so, the studio teamed with a concept car designer named Andries Van Overbeeke, who helped match their vision with a “stunning” design.


Tomorrow Bureau: Coffinfish (Copyright © Tomorrow Bureau, 2022)

Once the car design was in full swing, the team then started building the various scenarios for it to live in – the scenes for which the car will pull up and park, and the narratives about who would drive it. All of which was commissioned out to writer Laurie Lynch. This is where the backstory for Koi aka Coffinfish arose which, they admit, gets “pretty dark”. It goes a little like this: Koi is a Korean orphan who’s adopted by a billionaire named Yuri Nakamoto, a Cento Corp founder and head scientist. Yuri planned for Koi to become the greatest F1 female racing driver in the world. Koi began racing at the age of four and a half, before quickly becoming junior champion. Through various twists, reveals and a suicide (the full story can be read here), Koi ended up in charge of Yuri’s estate and started involving herself in high stakes illegal races. “She fears no one and embraces death,” writes the story. “In ‘The Rings’, they call her, Coffinfish.”

Driving the design, quite literally, the studio began deep diving into the visual world of F1 – car design, graphics, helmets, race tracks, garage environments and the like. Sitting alongside the car and Grand Prix-inspired environments is a film, made in collaboration with Andrés Belisario who created a steering wheel design. The final part of the process involved crafting graphic elements informed by the backstory, before adding in the sound design to the film with studio Contour, which worked with Thomas Lachèze on the soundtrack. It took two and a half years to complete in total, using a mix of software such as Cinema 4D, Houdini, After Effects and Illustrator.

“I think there are quite a few levels tot his project that viewers can engage with visually,” says Jack Featherston, the other half of Tomorrow Bureau. “The car, environments, industrial design and branding elements are all detailed enough to spend some time with.” There’s really something for everyone, here, whether you’re a racing fan or not. “If you’re really into F1, then the car is an interesting vision for the evolution of the sport. For those that fancy going a bit deeper, then the backstory presents a fully fleshed out narrative to dive into and explore.”

GalleryTomorrow Bureau: Coffinfish (Copyright © Tomorrow Bureau, 2022)

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Tomorrow Bureau: Coffinfish (Copyright © Tomorrow Bureau, 2022)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima. 

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