Halcyon by Ralph Taylor-Webb, United Kingdom

2011: Plus 10. The Best is Yet to Come!


Ever since Ford Motor Company replied to 12 year old Ralph’s ‘How do I become a Car Designer?’ letter, his academic path was clearly laid out.

Following their advice; he achieved the A-levels necessary to embark on a Masters in Transport Design at Coventry University, followed by a Masters in Vehicle Design at the Royal College of Art in London.

During his studies Ralph was selected for an internship at Diahatsu in Japan as well as carrying out projects with Volkswagen and Kia. He was nominated for the Helen Hamlyn Design Award for ‘Creativity in People-Centered Design’. In 2009 his team won first prize for ‘Best personalization’ and were finalists in ‘Best lifestyle interior’ category at the Interior Motives Design Awards.

Ralph currently lives in London with his wife Carolyn and works as a Car Designer at Ford!


Halcyon was created for people who have a passion for cars as well as a love of the natural world; drivers who love to glide along those gently contoured ribbons of deserted tarmac that we see in luxury car adverts, which meander through areas of outstanding natural beauty.

The stark reality however, is that the tranquility of the natural world is broken: noise, emissions, and even the sight of some vehicles in these beautiful locations, can highlight the current disparity between car and nature.

Inspired by the beautiful Owl, Halcyon is clean, efficient, ultra-lightweight and eerily silent. In harmony with the landscape for which it was formed, it treads lightly and leaves the wilderness just as wild as you found it.

Ralph’s research and development included photographing birds in flight, carving an owl in hardwood and sketching them in charcoal and with watercolors. He took a flight in a glider over Dartmoor’s national park, handled and flew living owls and experimented with numerous 15th scale clay models. The final model was made by hand from clay, and then cast in resin. Ralph chose not to machine the model from a computer model, as is increasingly the trend, as he believes that the tactile interface with clay imbues this kind of organic form with something instinctive, quite intangible, but very special.

More at peace with the natural world, HALCYON embraces naturally quiet electric power and in turn eliminates emissions on the vehicles immediate surroundings. Reducing aerodynamic disturbance to a minimum, covered wheels and a tapering teardrop cabin are assisted by gently twisting surface transitions to coax the air around the body with a mere whisper.

With a structure made from porous aluminum foam, HALCYON mimics the owl’s hollow bones and makes it surprisingly light for its generous volume. Aluminum foam also benefits from high impact and acoustic absorbency, keeping the occupants safe and (without) sound.

The unobstructed panoramic viewpoint that a glider offers led to a cab-forward layout in this design, free from window pillars and even without a dashboard. So that in the HALCYON concept, it feels as if you glide rather than drive through beautiful landscapes, whilst your cradled vantage point treats you to breathtaking panoramic vistas.