Laurent Nivalle

Virtual LAB manager & Global Brand Design manager • DS Automobiles

  • Design Team


Could you explain what VIRTUAL LAB is?


The VIRTUAL LAB is comparable to an in-house agency, serving the design and marketing needs of DS Automobiles. It comprises 2 to 3 people who create and produce all the visuals dedicated to the design studio: films (videos and 3D animations), photos and CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). These and other more specific visuals also feed into marketing, communications and the corporate website.

The VIRTUAL LAB is the ‘armed wing’ of the Global Brand design manager, who is the artistic director responsible for developing the brand’s visual and strategic identity. It’s also my job.

What is your experience?

I was a CMF (Colours, Materials and Finishes) designer before producing 3D computer graphics on projects. When DS Automobiles was created in 2014, I immediately applied to take part in this adventure. 

I started my training with a joiner's CAP, then went on to the BOULLE school (Applied arts, joinery, cabinetmaking) and then a DESS in product design.

I've been using 3D tools since my studies and I think that a good art director must first of all have a technical grasp of what he's asking his teams to do, so that he can make coherent proposals within realistic deadlines. When a new technology appears, such as Artificial Intelligence, I try to learn it. I don't have any preconceived ideas about the technology: I feel I have to master it.

Numéro 9 concept

Could you define the visual universe of DS Automobiles?

The visual universe of DS Automobiles can hardly be defined in a graphic charter, because the identity of the Brand is alive and constantly evolving. We take up classic codes, such as the monuments of Paris, but bring them up to date. For example, the Louvre pyramid has been reinterpreted with a kaleidoscope effect of mirrors. We want to avoid looking like a postcard at all costs. The black and white photographs are also a code, borrowed from the premium and luxury worlds. The shot of the Numéro 9 concept in profile in front of the Louvre pyramid, the first of its kind that I proposed, is a good example.


The visual universe of DS Automobiles can hardly be defined in a graphic charter, because the identity of the Brand is alive and constantly evolving.

What are your inspirations sources, and your passions?

At VIRTUAL LAB, we love Anglo-Saxon graphic culture. We're inspired by the graphic designers Vaughan OLIVER, David CARSON and Neville BRODY. Personally, this inspiration also comes from my Rock and Punk culture. Rock is my passion, it's a state of mind that gives me confidence. I stand by my convictions and defend my ideas to the end.

In the broadest sense, everything inspires me: music, the design of vinyl sleeves, fashion, photographers old and new, the cinema... But to create, it's a precise detail that catches the eye, an atmosphere in a film at a given moment, for example, that makes me want to create a visual or a film...

What achievement are you most proud of?

I'm most proud of the DS DIVINE concept film. For me, it's the most representative, because all the people in this film are really the people who worked on the concept. Initially, I was just going to make a making of. But I wanted to pay tribute to all those who work on our concepts, to their expertise, both within the brand and with our suppliers. I discovered personalities in factories that have been working with leather for 150 years, as well as in 5-year-old companies that were developing new 3D printing technologies.

What do you like most about DS cars design?

I love the simplicity and sophistication of the style, but above all I love the graphic work of the light signatures. As a former Colours, Materials and Finishes designer, I'm sensitive to the search for magic that comes from the choice of materials. Having been with the brand for a long time, I can see the personality behind every design detail. When I drive a DS model, I don't feel like I'm holding an industrial object in my hands, but rather a designer object.

Why create a new website dedicated to DS design?

I offered to set up the website and we worked together as a team to make it happen. I'd had this idea in my head for 20 years. Along the way, I realised that there was a lot of incredible know-how out there that was never shown. So I started documenting them in photos. This website exists to show that the car is not just an industrial, inert object, but that it hides incredible creativity and human wealth. With this site, we will be able to show the know-how of the women and men who hide behind the Brand.