Through its industrial holding Rail Investments, Christophe Le Blanc took over MBD Design, the French specialist in rolling stock design, to Vincent Créance, its previous CEO and sole shareholder on December 12, 2016.
A specialist in disruption, business development, acquisitions, transformation and innovation, Christophe Le Blanc previously worked at Alstom, Brinks Airport Safety, as an adviser to the Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Technology and at Solocal Group. He is a Strategic Board member of One Point Group, the French specialist in Digital Transformation and Innovation as well as a Supervisory Board member of Towerbrook Capital Partners, private equity fund.
MBD Design is headquartered in Paris and celebrates its 45th anniversary. Over the years, the agency has specialized in the public transport sector while continuing its activity in product design and defense. The agency went to the international market successfully in 2005, notably in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, where it now achieves more than 60% of its turnover with emblematic references such as the Korean and Chinese High Speed trains.
Wishing to capitalize on the technical know-how and the international fame of MBD Design, Christophe Le Blanc declare: « I want to broaden the scope of the agency’s activities to all other modes of public transport and increase our presence in the field of industrial goods. I also want to develop our services to include new modes of visualization and communication. The whole agency is already working on it. I also do not exclude other external growth operations that could bring us geographical and sectoral complementarity. Several projects are currently being studied.
This is an ambitious program for a French jewel already 100% digital! «
Express Rail Link High Speed train
The agency MBD Design was very proud to be chosen by the Hong Kong operator MTR and the Chinese manufacturer CRRC Sifang to work on the design of the XRL high speed train passenger coaches.
This section of the high-speed train line will allow Hong Kong to connect to Guangzhou in mainland China in less than 48 minutes. MBD Design has brought its skills on the exterior appearance as well as on the interior fittings, first and second class.
The exterior livery enhances the corporate red MTR color while adding the dynamism of orange and metallic gray in an undulating fine line. With the addition of white, the sharp and elegant final rendering creates a strong and unique identity at the same time.
Once on board, the second class passenger flows in a cheerful and relaxing atmosphere. The alternation of seats in warm colors blends nicely with the wavy and refreshing patterns found at ground level and around the luggage racks. A very bright ceiling decorated with a few graphics contributes to the general atmosphere of well-being.
The business class is definitely anchored in the vegetable world with inspired patterns that can be found on the seats, the floor and the side walls. The intimate atmosphere is enhanced by felted lights at the end of each coach. This feeling of richness is enhanced by the choice of materials and colors on the side walls as well as by the rhythm of the luggage racks. A journey into elegance starts.
A particular attention was paid to the comfort of everyone with rounded-shaped headrests and integrated individual reading lights.
The first trainsets should start operating in the last quarter of 2018.
Salvador de Bahia Metro
MBD Design has been selected by the operator Grupo CCR Via Quatro to conduct a design study for the new Line 2 vehicles.
For this city with a unique historical heritage, MBD Design has not hesitated to offer a colorful exterior and innovative interior.
The front end shows a distinctive rounded shape with bright and cheerful colors giving an overall elegant and dynamic appearance.
The particular location of the seats, both longitudinal and transverse, has created an original design with a physically separated backrest bench positioned as a whole strip along the side panels. This arrangement differs from the traditional image of subway interiors, offering an ambience inspired by public benches or sofa in domestic housing.
These positive values are intended to promote the attractiveness of a more humane and friendly public transportation.
The continuing backrest also provides a visual unity in a space that could otherwise appear as chaotic and messy. As of the seats, they remain independent and covered by a fabric to clearly indicate the individual spaces.
The space area dedicated to seated passengers is also visually defined at ground level by a different color floor material.
Some refined details such as the platforms lighting and the graphic decoration of the ceiling catch the attention and give an overall feeling of a subway dedicated to its users’ well-being in terms of travel experience. The manufacturer tender was won by the Korean manufacturer Hyundai Rotem. The first trains were inaugurated in December 2015 and the subway should be operating for the Olympic Games this summer.
Izmir metro and tramway
MBD Design was chosen by Hyundai Rotem to conduct a design study for the Izmir metro and tram.
Located in Turkey, with a rich cultural background and being a world-famous place for the quality of its seaside scenery and atmosphere, Izmir is an interesting mix between modernity and tradition. The purpose of the agency was then to transcribe this unique context into some highly individual vehicles design.
Completed in 2014, Izmir metro design focus on modernity, boosted by the oncoming EXPO 2020 as well as on Turkish tradition and culture.The color livery mixes bold colorful graphics and Izban corporate identity to further enhance the dynamic looks.
For Izmir tram livery, the sea and the local graphics patterns were the main inspiration. The town vehicle should reflect this atmosphere while being part of the overall sensation of lightness, sunshine, warmth and vacation. This final design is the one of a modern tramway that will visually blend with the current traffic.
If exterior design is more about stylishness and expressions of speed and dynamism, we believe that interior design should be more about a warm and friendly atmosphere, an «at home» feeling. We so put emphasis on colorful expression, in relationship with patterns and colors of the traditional Turkish culture of fabrics and interior decoration, evocative of welcoming Turkish interiors.
The metro seats fabric reflect the sky and blue water of the Agean sea, while the «frosted glass» effect on the partitions is a reminder of traditional Turkish arts and crafts. A sophisticated curved triple grab pole with additional atmosphere lighting finalized a unique modern and bright interior.
Izmir tramway offers a very maritime harmony of blues and greens seats for a fresh and inspiring seaside atmosphere. Color-coded handles and floor covering combine for a well-being atmosphere.
MBD Design is currently pursuing its cooperation with Rotem on Istanbul metro and Antalya tramway design.
New Transport Information Points
MBD Design was chosen by Paris Airport (ADP) to conduct the design study as well as the prototypes’ realization for the new Transport Information Points.
Started in 2013, the study should lead to the set-up of dedicated spaces and steles informing the arrival passengers on available public transport, be it subway, buses, shuttles, etc.
The steles are located in the landing area. The designers’ work focused on their visibility and readability among other information aimed to the travelers. Their identity takes up the ADP color codes while reinforcing them with lighting strips. The steles include the maps as well as screens giving real time traffic information.
This theme is taken up in the baggage arrival area where dedicated slots are available to travelers. Composed of wall information as well as terminals, these spaces have been the subject of an extensive ergonomic study in order to provide a more complete information in a welcoming environment.
The Transport Information Points have been installed as prototypes at Roissy CDG and Orly airports in December 2014.
Ultimately, these information points will include transport ticketing machines and be generalized in the other terminals.
Suzhou and Hexi Tramways
MBD Design was contacted by its longtime partner CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co. Ltd to conduct the design for the Suzhou L1 and Hexi tramways. The 100% low-floor trams had to be put in operation in 2014.
They are the first new generation low-floor trams in China.
For Suzhou, the agency opted for a soft and round welcoming front end for the new vehicle. The overall shape is one of a smile, using “positive” shapes.
To give a personality to the vehicle, the agency decided to enhance this friendly basis using lightings inspired from the latest LED technologies. Such highlights will symbolize modernity for the coming years. They will also be a link between the trams vehicles and the latest trendy cars while on the road.
The lights juxtaposition create a starry sky atmosphere that will shine among all cars at night.
Hexi tram is one of modernity and sobriety. Its elegant black and white front end is easily recognizable while the regular livery pattern brings a feeling of rhythm among the high tech buildings of this new district.
The slightly rounded highlights soften the shape representing two friendly piercing eyes smiling to all.
Suzhou’s first tram line opened on October 26, 2014 on a 18·1 km route. The Hexi Line of the Nanjing tramway opened for passenger service during the Youth Olympic Games.
Bombardier, Regio 2N
Bombardier contacted MBD DESIGN to conduct the design study of its new generation of double-deck trains for the French provinces.
These 860 trains will be in operation for regional and intercity trips in replacement of older cars.
The creative choice was made towards an innovative concept alternating single deck and double deck cars in order to offer a wide choice of interior spaces.
An objective view was taken for large inter-circulations areas and a regular ceiling height in order to let the passengers move naturally between the vehicles and between the lower and the upper spaces.
This spacious and security feeling was enhanced by the transparency of the materials and the glass’s mezzanine.
This careful consideration of the passenger – and its personal space – in the collective « shell » was central in the reflection around the interior arrangement.
The seat design is resolutely modern and offers a very high comfort level. It is available in different versions. The reference to the home atmosphere can be found in the lighting, the settings and the graphics inspired from the world of furniture : carpets with patterns, different seat fabrics to create some diversity.
From the beginning, the interior fittings have been declined in a range of six different atmospheres that were studied in close cooperation with the first provinces ordering from the SNCF.
At the end, a catalog proposing a choice of 50 options has been proposed to the French regions. Many of them have already chosen these rolling stock vehicles.