Dominic Wilcox Presents the Future: Sleeper Car

At night we sleep, we rest, we escape, we regenerate our minds. We need a place where we feel safe. For that reason, the intimate spaces, our bedrooms, are filled with emotions, serenity. So this haven is meticulously decorated, personalised from the choice of bed sheets, to the comforting duvet, to the white coat we paint on the walls of our little comforting nooks. What if in the future society pushes us to reimagine the concept of our sleeping space?


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British artist, Dominic Wilcox, encourages us to question the way we sleep and the way we drive with his creation titled the “Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future”, also known as the “MINI Cathedral”.


British artist, Dominic Wilcox, encourages us to question the way we sleep and the way we drive with his creation titled the “Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future”, also known as the “MINI Cathedral”. The car was built for “Dezeen and MINI Frontiers”, an exhibition supported by MINI cars, which was open from September 18-21 2014 during the London Design Festival. The nickname “MINI Cathedral” can also be attributed to the classic MINI tires and boot handle used on the vehicle. The boot handle is used to lift the hydraulic-assisted glass shell so that the passenger can ease themselves into their travelling bedroom.


The MINI Cathedral is a marriage of classic stained glass work and modern and futuristic technology. The fusion of classic beauty and technology creates what could potentially be an almost risk-free means of transport, built like a cocoon for slumber and serenity. People often argue that art and science are worlds apart, but Wilcox thoughtfully welds both worlds together. “I think collaboration between science, technology and the creative arts has huge potential. We just need to make the communication pathways stronger. We can’t be experts in everything but we can join together through a shared desire for innovation driven by the inquisitive nature that both scientists and creative people share,” Wilcox tells us.


Each artist seeks and finds inspiration in different ways and places. Some artists believe that the main sources of creativity can be reflective of a given time period. In the Western world, during Medieval times, one could argue that religion was the greatest, most propulsive source of creativity. As centuries go by, this may no longer be the case.


Wilcox says, “We are all influenced by everything we see and experience, whether consciously or subconsciously. In the past, religion influenced art and culture more than anything else. Nowadays, that isn’t so much the case in the West, where many people seem to have replaced religion with technology or materialism or simply following their own path. I don’t think I’m directly influenced by religion, though my interest lies in studying human behaviour in all its forms.”

Though not directly influenced by religion, Wilcox was indirectly influenced by the architectural art that is a symbol of it. Wilcox says that on a visit to Durham Cathedral, its magnificent stained glass windows captured his eye and creative imagination; immediately inspired, he desired to reimagine the beauty of this historic art in a modern manner. So, even though religion is not normally a driving influence for his artistry, what he calls his invisible “third eye” is always wide open, as if to catch creativity with each flutter or blink.


“I’m always looking at the world for some hint of potential, something that can trigger a larger thought and idea. It’s like having a third eye permanently switched on for creative inspiration. It’s very much a proactive thing; sitting back and hoping for ideas to strike isn’t the best approach. Though of course, ideas do seem to jump into my head at times…” he explains.


Wilcox says that by the year 2059, statistics will prove it is safer to drive in a computer-controlled, driverless vehicle than one driven by a human, and will no longer require cumbersome bumpers and airbags. Is this not how invention always begins? First, our great minds build inventions for practicality, then as time passes and machines become increasingly efficient, inventors begin to develop the aesthetic beauty of their creations. Take the mobile phone for example, once a massive bulky thing that was hardly mobile and certainly not aesthetically pleasing; now, not only are mobile phones multi-functional and highly efficient, they come in all different shapes, colours, designs, some in gold, others encrusted with diamonds.


So who is to say that about 50 years from now, cars won’t be so safe and efficient that the heavy metal body that we have become so accustomed to won’t be replaced by the half-moon-shaped shell of glistering multi-coloured glass? We already have airplanes that fly thousands of miles above the ground on auto-pilot. Wilcox explains, “Driverless cars already exist and roam around controlled environments at Google or BMW.  I think as driverless car technology develops, within five years we will see more examples of them being tested in public spaces. I remember people were nervous about the idea of driverless trains but now people don’t think about it so much and just step on board. As time goes by and autonomous vehicles prove themselves to be safe, we will begin trusting them. The idea of being driven around without you having to drive is going to be a tempting thing. Particularly to elderly people or disabled people for example, but also to many people who just want to relax and to be taken where they want.”


Perhaps Wilcox is right when he says that in 50 years, 100 years after the creation of the first MINI, built in 1959, “it will be safer to ride in a driverless car than a human-driven car.” which he demonstrated using his design of the MINI Cathedral.


“I chose the year 2059 as it was 100 years after the very first MINI car was launched; MINI had commissioned me to create my vision for the future of mobility. By 2059 I will not be surprised to see the introduction of driverless-only motorways. In this way, all the vehicles are controlled autonomously. They become ultra-safe without human intervention. It will be interesting to see what the future holds; I’m just trying to think ahead in my work,” he says.


A fusion of the past, the present, and a symbol of the future. A day when driving is safe, simple, and serene. Simply lay down in your car, cuddle between the sheets, with a good book, perhaps Wilcox’s latest publication entitled “Variations on Normal”, which features illustrations of devilishly hilarious and simply ingenious inventions. So snuggle in, tell it where you want to go, and let the smooth drive lull you into a soothing slumber.


This is an excerpt from the NIGHT issue available now on ItunesGoogle Play, and in Print.