The Creative Unit studio, located on the south shore of Montreal, in Québec, Canada, offers industrial design services and specializes in transport design, both utilitarian and recreational. The studio was founded in June 2004 by industrial designer Martin Aubé, who has a passion for feasible visions and representations of the future, sketching, quality work, and transportation and accessories design.
At The Creative Unit, we excel in understanding the needs of our customers and product users and in delivering high-quality sketches and renderings of design concepts. We also support our customers at all other stages of project development, if required. We believe in fast, but well-thought-out strategic actions and in combining our strengths in order to achieve the customer’s goals without compromising the quality of the work.
The Creative Unit Inc. is characterized by its creativity, its exclusive customer service, and its specific process adapted to the field of transportation and product design through the use of specialized drawing techniques for fast concept visualization. We also offer conceptual illustration, clay model validation, CAD class A surfaces, renderings, and follow-up services, as well as formal recommendations for our customers’ technical teams.
We are fortunate to live in a very interesting cultural melting pot (mainly English and French) which gives us insight into North American and European philosophies and specific views on transportation products and needs.
Our services and our fields of practice include: industrial design, transportation design, advanced concepts, creativity, product design, industrial design for the Québec and Canadian markets, winter-related projects, recreational products, conceptual illustrations, renderings, sketches, CAD Class A surfaces.
Martin Aubé is a seasoned, world-class industrial designer from Québec, Canada, and CEO of The Creative Unit Inc. (www.creativeunit.com), founded in June 2004. Martin also has 18 years of experience at Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier Recreational Products, BRP, and Bombardier Aerospace from 1986 to 2004). In 1998, he was granted the title of Expert Industrial Designer, Advanced Concepts, at Bombardier Recreational Products. He contributed to many of Bombardier’s achievements during his time with the company.
During his career, Martin was involved in the development of more than 20 mass‑production vehicles, and in the design of numerous other vehicle and accessory concepts.
Martin has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design (BID) from Université de Montréal (1988). He has been a member of the Association des designers industriels du Québec (ADIQ) since 1992, and a professional member of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) since 2013. He also holds a certificate in Aeronautics from Université de Montréal’s École Polytechnique, a certificate in Fine Arts from Bishop’s University, and he earned a second Bachelor's degree in Art History from Université du Quebec à Montreal (UQAM) in 2009. He has also taught courses (SSHGD instructor in transportation equipment design) at UQAM since 2008 (https://designtransport.uqam.ca/) and has led university level seminars.
SORA electric motorcycle for LITO Green Motion (2010), right side view, Red Dot Design Award, 2011
Complete industrial design, styling, and human factors. Design strategy and boards (mood, DNA, trends, lifestyle, product positioning, and competition), ideation and renderings, CAD Class A surfacing and modelling, planning and follow-up. (Studio shot by photographer Christian Bergeron, agency: Newbase Media.)
SORA POLICE PACK
Electric motorcycle for LITO Green Motion (2017), three-quarter front view, Les Grands Prix du Design Award 2017. Five months, six designers and an exciting industrial design challenge have given birth to the award-winning SORA electric motorcycle. Focusing on the precise objective of matching or surpassing the quality of the BMW R1100 RT used by the police force, the team turned to the electric motorcycle SORA, by L'Unité Créative/ The Creative Unit/ LITO Green Motion, and looked into its sporty and powerful DNA. The Company succeeded in creating a version of the vehicle that is more comfortable, aerodynamic, functional and adapted to police practices. All this improvement has been completed with minimal structural changes and by working side by side with the police officers. The jury highlights the technical and technological approach of the project, the initiative to develop an electric vehicle with the help of the police force and the discrete graphic design of the processed product. (Text by Juli Pisano)
Reverse trike motomobile for Higgins-Aubé (2008), Red Dot Design Award for design concept, 2009. Design strategy and boards, product positioning, competition analysis, trends, lifestyle, DNA. Preliminary concept, rendering, CAD Class A surfacing. Design patents. Green performance perception: The EnergyaTM three‑wheeled vehicle, also known as a motomobile, was designed to be a light, high-performance vehicle.
Since the design/engineering team shares the philosophy of the late Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus CarsTM, weight reduction was indeed the defining factor in the choice of this type of vehicle.
Styling and design were conducted through a state-of-the-art R&D process. We strive to resolve the main problems related to this compact architecture jointly with Engineering. For example, ease of ingress-egress and side impact protection were made possible through the use of a half-door, which also improves general styling by connecting the lower front cowling to the rear fairing with an uninterrupted beltline.
There are several advantages to a vehicle with only three wheels. First and foremost, three‑wheeled vehicles are considered motorcycles in many jurisdictions. Since the motomobile does not feature many of the heavier components found in an automobile, it can therefore be made lighter, which improves its performance.
Typical preliminary design sketches for our customers by Martin Aubé (in-house electric snowmobile project).
DTS 129 for Camso
Conquer deep snow and go where your off-road motorcycle has never gone before. This lightweight, high-performance dirt-to-snow bike conversion system delivers the off-road motorcycle agility you love. The Creative Unit was involved from the first ideation sketches to the final Class A surfaces. Engineering was developed by Camso’s expert team. The product was designed to integrate seamlessly with the original balance, dynamics, and styling of users’ bikes.
Motorcycle and snowmobile helmet from Kimpex Inc. In 2005, Kimpex commissioned us to create a new design identity (DNA) for its CKX line. The TRANZ modular helmet was the first item in this new generation of high‑performance products. Inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft, the air vents at the front and crown, as well as the lateral lines are now significant design features. The design DNA helps with brand identification. The helmet has a built-in sun visor and a quick-release attachment system. The standard initial R&D phases were done by our studio. We later assisted Kimpex in the final development phases. Throughout the project, The Creative Unit deferred to Kimpex’s significant experience in the marketing and distribution of recreational products. We added our design experience to make the CKX TRANZ helmet a commercial success. It is still on the market in 2016, and was commercialized by Artic Cat a few years ago—a testament to its classic design and shape. Production numbers quadrupled in its first year on the market due in part to the new striking and dynamic design. (Studio shot by photographer Matthieu Lambert.)
Camso UTV 4S1
Design styling from preliminary sketches to final renderings and graphics.
HINTERLAND concept van
Given the increased focus on greener vehicles and the fact that Canadians, in particular, seem to be looking for alternatives to the common modes of transportation, we believe the time has come to unveil a project developed by our industrial design team that we worked on between 2004 and 2008: the “Hinterland 1” project (from the German, meaning a place untouched by man, far from urban areas). We applied for patents (industrial design) in Canada (119595), the United States (US D560,554S), and Europe. Certificates were issued in 2008 for Canada and the United States. The goal of the entire project was to create a highly distinctive and innovative incarnation of a Canadian design for a long-range electric vehicle, an incarnation intended to stand out from current industry standards and that could be adapted for individual transportation and carpooling (taxi)—a hybrid form of transportation combining aspects of individual transportation and mass transit.
The basis for this thought process consists in adapting a cylindrical shape, such as that used in the aeronautics industry for plane fuselages, to a four-wheeled passenger car body. Because this manufacturing process has been perfected in our region (by Bombardier), it could become a visual statement for “green transportation,” representing a paradigm shift in the automotive industry. This original shape is also an attempt to identify a characteristic look for a Canadian‑made economy electric car with the potential to become a recognizable national icon, rather like our other distinctive and characteristic emblems (for example, the Olympic Stadium or Montréal’s metro cars). A good example of this is taxicabs in London and New York.
By combining artistic, technical, and scientific expertise (recreational vehicles, electric motors and batteries, aeronautics, aluminum, plastics processing, IT, etc.), with the help of a manufacturer willing to explore this avenue, we could design, produce, and sell a technically and distinctly innovative passenger vehicle that is elegant in its simplicity, non-polluting, recyclable, safe, and adapted to the North American climate, while providing jobs for thousands of specialists and qualified workers.
FTX-148 Brush Cutter for Camoplast (now Prinoth Ltd.)
The new design, which provides visual continuity with the line of all-terrain utility vehicles (Trooper, Trooper HD, and Patrol), aims to increase brand value through the development of a common design DNA. An important issue from the outset was determining a suitable position for the operator and adjusting the windshield angle and contours. A preliminary interior design was proposed.
FTX-148 Brush Cutter
Visual integration of the entire vehicle—cabin, hood, fender, and other protective elements—was carried out during the various development phases. The engineering, prototypes, and detailed drawings were all provided by Camoplast and its suppliers. A winning engineering-design-marketing collaboration, the FTX-148 brush cutter was featured in the “Head, Heart, Hands: 40 Years of Industrial Design” exhibition at Université de Montreal in 2009.
Volvo - Prevost Car, Magnum Projects (X3-45 Coach), 2004-2005.
The Creative Unit Inc. was hired to round out the in-house industrial design team and contributed to all the preliminary concept phases: design boards, conceptual ideation sketches, packages/architecture refinement, 2D renderings, 2D full size, instrument panel design, driver area 3D mock-up, and clay model follow-up.
NRC Industries 20CS and 25CS Wreckers:
“Feeling like you can’t find the perfect truck for smaller jobs? Not looking to compromise performance for size? Then you have to take a look at the impressive 20CS! Now offered with a rustproof composite body, this stylish 20-ton machine is ideal to tow tractors and heavy trucks and for recovery in urban areas” (http://nrc-industries.com/equipment/wreckers/). The Creative Unit Inc. provided all the industrial design services to complete the in-house engineering work on these two wreckers: DNA analysis, design positioning, preliminary concept sketches, refinement renderings, and final CAD 3D models (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMMGQ1j16vw).
Prinoth PANTHER T8
Think of the PANTHER T8 crawler carrier as the most versatile of utility vehicles. Just about any implement can be fitted to the PANTHER’s 860-mm (34-in.) truck-inspired chassis with little to no modifications, making installation simple and easy. The PANTHER T8 can effortlessly carry up to 7,260 kg (16,000 lb.) of heavy equipment, materials, and supplies out to the worksite while exerting very low ground pressure. The Creative Unit Inc. provided industrial design services to complete the in-house engineering of this carrier: platform strategy sketches and renderings, preliminary bodywork concept sketches, refinement 2D renderings, and bodywork final model follow-up.
The Creative Unit has been involved in more than eight ambulance projects since 2007, from exterior livery and cab riser design to interior design proposals, as well as intensive DNA work and accessories design.
One of our most appreciated and acclaimed services is concepts ideation sketches to support engineering R&D and sales—effective, fast, precise, and convincing.
Advanced snowmobile concept rendering.
Another technique sample requested by our customer to visualize possible concepts before investing in elaborate CAD models.
Styling of snow groomer bodywork (side panels and air intake only)
From sketches to final surfaces. (Prinoth – New Bison and New Bison X)
Inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk and B-2 Spirit stealth aircraft, the TX517 helmet brings new meaning to the proportions of products in this category. The vents at the crown reflect certain aeronautic features and streamline the shell and the sun visor. Several trade journalists were both surprised and delighted by this new product’s unique appearance. The standard initial R&D phases on the preliminary surfaces were done by our studio. We later assisted Kimpex in the final development phases. The CKX TX517 helmet was featured in the “Head, Heart, Hands: 40 Years of Industrial Design” exhibition at Université de Montreal in 2009. (Studio shot by photographer Matthieu Lambert.)
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The Creative Unit Inc.
1800 St-Bruno, Québec, CANADA, J3V 6N5
Martin Aubé, BID, BA, ADIQ, IDSA
CEO, Industrial Designer
The success of a project depends on having an effective process in place. We are passionate about our work and about teaching conceptual illustration and design for the transportation industry (utility and recreational vehicles) and related products (motorcycle helmets and other accessories). We like to apply our knowledge to different types of products. We believe that “Everything that deserves to be made deserves to be made well.”
- Index of competitors and prices (competition)
- Direct and indirect market trends and competition
- Future product positioning
- Analysis and portrayal of the typical buyer (lifestyle)
- Historical visual analysis of the client company’s products (DNA history)
- Creation of visual traits unique to the client company (DNA application)
- Visual guide for style development in conjunction
with engineering, marketing, and design objectives (product positioning and mood
-Proximity-based styling and design analysis (as per Scott Robertson’s theory (ACCD))
Digitization (scan) 3D reference/benchmarking
Small-scale or full-size clay models
Clay model 3D scanning
Class A surfaces
Fast service, quality, feasibility, experience, imagination, precision, attention to detail, on-time delivery, attention to client needs, access to private specialized documents on industrial design and transportation.
If needed, The Creative Unit, known for its passion for industrial design, can work with an extensive network of loyal partners who are all equally enthusiastic about their craft, who love creating, developing, and completing a project, and who value talent.
The design philosophy shared by The Creative Unit and Martin is to draw on art history in creating classic yet functional products; to work as a team with engineering, marketing, and all stakeholders, while defending the design vision of a product; to use the main design tools daily to clearly communicate design ideas to all project team members; to teach young designers in order to create new talent while staying connected to new trends; and, finally, to keep the creative flame burning by developing a well-conceived vision of the future for customers or in-house projects.
Over the past 12 years, we have worked on several projects, such as:
Electric sport motorcycle, electric police motorcycle, motorcycles, motorcycle helmets, snowmobile helmets, motocross helmets, advanced snowmobile study, ambulances, underground systems (metro), rail/train transportation, reverse trikes, wreckers and accessories, ATV accessories (trunk boxes), tire design, track systems designs (styling), snow groomer styling, bus styling, coach styling, boom styling, track styling, track system styling for a dirt bike conversion kit, tractor track system styling, SSV accessories, light bar design/styling, brush cutter bodywork styling, snow groomer tiller design/styling, side-by-side snowmobile advanced project, and many more.
Work published in Drawing Ideas, by Mark Baskinger and William Bardel.
Arts and Politics and Sciences, illustration, pp. 234-235.
Several press articles in Canada.
Links on Design Pages
Serving Québec, Canada and, under certain conditions, the U.S.A.
“Martin is an extremely creative person, an outstanding designer. At the same time, he has a great understanding of all aspects of product development: engineering, production, etc. I always had a very constructive relationship with him on the projects we were involved in.”
Alessandro Del Mistro, VP at Lx Sim Inc.
“Martin is one of the most gifted industrial designers that I have had the pleasure of working with. While we worked together at BRP to solve ergonomic and design concerns on advanced projects, I found Martin to be an excellent communicator, gifted as a designer, and always very, very professional in his approach. I would highly recommend Martin and his skills to any potential client.”
Peter Watson, Principal Ergonomist, Owner at Human Works Inc.
“Martin is a seasoned world-class designer whose name deserves to be spread. He is innovative, has impeccable work ethics, and is dedicated to client satisfaction.”
Danny Higgins, CEO at Rocken Technologies
“Martin is indisputably the best concept designer with whom I have been fortunate to collaborate and doubtless the most talented in Québec. He has an impressive baggage of knowledge and experience in the field of vehicle design. He constantly keeps up to date with styles and trends, his job fascinates him, and he draws like a master! His art is very high level—“top of the line.” Every time, concept after concept, he manages to surpass himself and amaze us! Furthermore, Martin is a diligent professional who always delivers work on time.”
Roberto Barbusci, industrial designer at A3D Innovation Inc.