Volvo Design Teams Observe Global TrendsPosted on May 9th, 2009
Camarillo and Barcelona design centers give the automaker a wider perspective
Volvo designers understand the importance of maintaining a wide footprint. Design teams in southern California and Spain are on alert for emerging trends that need to be on the company’s radar.
Volvo’s Monitoring and Concept Center in Camarillo, California uses a cross-functional approach. Designers and engineers work side by side in the wind tunnel. Their efforts produced the Environmental Concept Car that became the first S80, and the first safety concept car that evolved into the current C30.
The Strategic Design Center in Barcelona is the yin to Southern California’s yang. While roads in the western US are wide and straight, Europe’s streets are narrow and winding. Many of Volvo’s small car concepts originate in Barcelona.
Just as Los Angeles is a hotspot for emerging trends in the US, Barcelona is a style hub for European architecture and industrial design. Volvo design teams like to look outside the box for new styling concepts: in contemporary clothing, furniture and accessory design.
For example, Volvo’s floating center stack concept comes from personal handheld devices such as the iPod. Apple’s array of color choices for the iPod inspired the Volvo team to introduce its personalization program for the C30. The program let buyers customize their cars with an array of exterior finishes, upholstery and accessory options.
Emerging safety technology also plays an important role. The company’s mission of making all Volvo cars accident-free by the year 2020 opens up new opportunities for stylists. Volvo’s cars of the future will use artificial intelligence to anticipate dangerous situations, so that the driver can avoid potential accidents.
“If so, we do not need the bumpers, crumple zones and sturdy framework that protects the humans today,” said Anders Gunnarson, chief designer at Volvo Cars Strategic Design. “This means we designers can use these areas to create a stimulating, more attractive environment for driver and passengers, and explore exciting new forms and shapes.”
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