V&A takes on the car as a design object in new exhibition

Robert Bosh electronic control unit and wiper blade, 1926 (c) Bosch

The motor car has shaped our modern world and is about to define its future. In its 130 years, this object of desire and destruction has been critical in enforming our lives – from the design of our cities and our relation to the countryside, to how we work, live and communicate with one another. In its golden age, the motor car conjured up such strong visceral feelings, yet it remains a disturbing symbol of our current climate emergency.

This is the premise behind the V&A’s latest exhibition ‘Cars: accelerating the modern world‘. Together with the accompanying book, the show is a fascinating overview of the motor car’s complex past, and acts as a useful tool for navigating the second stage of the automobile. What’s apparent is that, just like the beginnings of the motor car revolution, the future clean, autonomous, shared drive will need greater cooperation and coordination with urban and country planning. It needs to be a global effort, and performed well and without profit at its very core, it can be an exciting future. Read my full story here.

What is luxury? BMW chief designer discusses

The concept of luxury has evolved to include a much more complex set of values. Time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skills and memory – these are just some of the concepts joining the more classic terms associated with luxury. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what will define true luxury?

In the third of our interviews with some of the leading creatives, Karim Habib, BMW chief designer offers his thoughts on the subject.

Karim Habib and his design teamDesign Talks: How do you see BMW car design responding to the concept of ‘modern luxury’?

Karim Habib: We started to actively talk about modern luxury with the 7 Series. You see in the past we never fully embraced the term because we felt it meant things like wood, leather, weight… it almost didn’t feel like it could work with us being a driver’s car. Now we understand how modern luxury can fit with our brand values.

It can come through innovation – providing technology that is new, that improves your life. We are prepared to invest in innovation, like we did with gesture control, a unique and new technology as first seen on in the 7 Series, which may be introduced across our range.

BMW 7 Series, introducing Gesture Control for the first time on this model

DT: You’ve always been innovative with the use of materials especially with the BMW i electric cars and in particular inside the i3 where traditional luxury has been brilliantly challenged to highlight the sustainable aspect of the car.

KH. Yes there is definitely the question of materials. If luxury is to remain relevant, and stay with current values, then do we continue to work with say leather? Do we want to keep this as a symbol of luxury? This is a super difficult area for everyone as we, even I, get excited when I look inside an old classic car with its battered leather… Yet, this is something that we need to address.

DT: With ‘active driving’ being one of BMW’s main brand values, how will the company respond to the near future autonomous car when driving becomes less of a focus?

Marella Rivolta-Zagato, Art Director Zagato, Erik Goplen, Exterior Designer BMW Group DesignworksUSA, and Karim Habib, Head of Design BMW Automobiles, at Zagato in MilanKH. The idea of BMW as a driver’s car should remain the focus, but it is interesting what form and shape this will take in the future. Our brand slogan The Ultimate Driving Machine is Freude am Fahren in German, which roughly translates to the joy of driving. It has much more warmth, and is really about the emotion of the driver.

DT: How do you translate this in terms of design?

KH: For us it is a question of what you do with the time you have when the car is in autonomous driving mode. We see this as a huge opportunity to design this time through choreographing the information you receive. There is a great deal of information being given to the driver so we will try to focus the right information at the correct time. And direct how you see it when you’re not driving.

BMW 7 Series exteriorOur responsibility is to use this non-driving time for offering well-being experience, which still needs to be designed through the type of interface, seat comfort, ambient lighting and so on. So in the age of autonomous driving, we will focus our energy on not making you a lesser driver, but a better driver whilst still keeping the driver as our focus.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous interview on the subject of modern luxury and car design with Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor, Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff, Jaguar’s creative lead Ian Callum, and Mecedes-Benz’s Gorden Wagener here.

Read our previous reports on BMW design here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJW | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
All rights and labelled images are covered by ©

 

 

 

What is luxury? Rolls-Royce design director discusses

The concept of luxury has evolved to include a much more complex set of values. Time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skills and memory – these are just some of the concepts joining the more classic terms associated with luxury. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what will define true luxury?

In the fourth of our interviews with some of the leading creatives, Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design director offers his thoughts on the subject

Design Talks: How would you define modern luxury?

Giles Taylor. The subject is very topical, especially for us. Time, for instance, is of growing importance with the high net worth clients, and we are assessing how Rolls-Royce fits into this. For us it is more about the car journey, where we create a world that revolves a little slower, a world that is more of a sanctuary. It has to be about offering splendid isolation

However, it would never be [applied] in a backward way. Rolls-Royce is very much about offering absolute connectivity, where everything is at your fingertips. The car will almost act like the butler who is standing outside the door at 4pm knowing his master would like his Earl Grey at that time. We have to offer the best technology, but executed in a way that is advanced. The technology needs to amplify this.

DT. How do you see this being unique to the marque?

GT. For Rolls-Royce design means being timeless, classic, authentic. When a client sits inside one of our cars they could be six or sixty-five – that’s how familiar the surrounding should be. It is about time autonomy. The interior has to be effortless, so the occupants can navigate the technology on-board whilst carrying on with their businesses. The car needs to offer this sanctuary… offer a sense of escapism.

DT. It could be argued that Rolls-Royce cars have always been driverless, given that they are predominantly chauffeured. Yet how do you see the future of luxury in the context of autonomous driving?

GT. The autonomous car of the future will mean creating space inside the vehicle… and we need to create more space for a more luxurious interior. This means de-cluttering the interior, taking out the extra furniture so you can appreciate the beautifully crafted mahogany wooden panel on the dashboard, for instance, or the exquisite hand stitching on the leather chairs, and the most beautiful technological clock…

DT. How do you envisage the future?

GT. The future is extremely modern for us with craft solutions are at the core.

The Rolls-Royce DNA is about modernity. If you look back at our early Phantoms, for instance, there is a sense of purity in the design, of almost austerity. There is not a lot going on but clean shapes and incredible craftsmanship and execution. Modernity, high tech is in our DNA.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous interview on the subject of modern luxury and car design with Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff, Jaguar’s creative lead Ian Callum, and Mecedes-Benz’s Gorden Wagener here.

Read our previous reports on Rolls-Royce design here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJW | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
All rights and labelled images are covered by ©

 

What is luxury? Mercedes-Benz design director discusses

The concept of luxury has evolved to include a much more complex set of values. Time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skills and memory – these are just some of the concepts joining the more classic terms associated with luxury. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what will define true luxury?

In the fifth of our interviews with some of the leading creatives, Gorden Wagener, director of Daimler AG design and responsible for Mercedes-Benz offers his thoughts.

Design Talks. How do you see Mercedes-Benz car design responding to the concept of modern luxury?

Gorden Wagener. Sensual Purity as the expression of modern luxury – that is the design philosophy of Mercedes-Benz. Our aim is to create clear forms and smooth surfaces that act as a stage for the high tech while arousing emotions.

People are after something genuine, experiences that are both emotive and authentic. The interior in particular is a living space that is characterised by sensuality and luxury at Mercedes. Purity is modernity while sensuality is the very opulence, beauty and pleasure inherent in beautiful forms and high-quality materials such as soft leather.

DT. How will this be unique to the marque?

GW. The uniqueness of Mercedes-Benz design lies in the combination of sensuality and purity, of luxury and purism. Although seemingly a contradiction in terms, these opposites are also deeply rooted in our DNA.

Our design philosophy perfectly encapsulates this fundamental aspect of the brand – the bipolarity of intelligence and emotion. Rationale forms one half of the brand essence, of which Carl Benz is symbolic, with the other half influenced by Gottlieb Daimler and the era of the early racing cars and classic cars. This is why excitement, desire and pleasure are essential to the brand.

DT. Your recent series of concept cars, in particular the F 015 Luxury in Motion, is an intriguing study into the possibilities of car design in the age of autonomous driving. How do you see the future of car design in the context of driverless cars?

GW. The aim of autonomous driving is to ease the burden on the driver in many situations, for example in heavy motorway traffic. And when the car can drive itself, the interior above all takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes a space in which you can do many of those things that you are currently forbidden from doing while driving or that you simply cannot do because you have to drive the car.

The car becomes the ‘third place’ where you can work, relax or invite your friends into the car via video conferencing. This provides wonderful inspirations for the designers because the car of the future offers both possibilities: a lounge-like atmosphere as well an automotive experience.

DT. How will it impact on exterior design?

GW. The exterior design will also change. The looks should emphasise and possibly even indicate autonomous driving. Through the use of technology and design elements we can raise the awareness and looks of autonomous cars.

On the F 015 Luxury in Motion, for example, the LEDs on the front and rear interact with the surroundings so others see the car is driving autonomously. And it has no edges, lending it the sensually pure form that is a Mercedes-Benz hallmark.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous interview on the subject of modern luxury and car design with Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff, and Jaguar’s creative lead Ian Callum here.

Read more about the F015 Luxury in Motion and Mercedes-Benz design here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJW | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
All rights and labelled images are covered by ©

What is luxury? Jaguar design director discusses

The idea of luxury has evolved to include a much more complex set of values. Time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skills and memory – these are just some of the concepts joining the more classic terms associated with luxury. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what will define true luxury? In the second of our interviews with some of the leading creatives, Ian Callum, Jaguar Cars design director, offers his thoughts on the subject.

Design Talks. How would you define modern luxury?

Ian Callum: One aspect of modern luxury is appreciating old world luxury, to understand the essence of authentic materials, noticing and understanding the value of these, understanding the pleasures it gives rather than the ostentatiousness of it.

As car designers our job is to understand our occupants’ emotional and physical needs, and to respond to this. We therefore use this word wellbeing a lot in our design process. To create a sense of real luxury is to essentially give a sense of wellbeing, to create an environment where our customers enjoy the experience, much like you would in a great restaurant or a modern hotel. It means forming a sanctuary. It certainly isn’t about showing off their wealth.

DT. How does this apply to Jaguar design?

IC. What this means in terms of Jaguar cars is a more exciting and involved environment in our sports cars like the F-Type, and a more comfortable and luxurious one in cars like the XJ. It means experimenting and investing in perfumes, smells, ambience lighting. It means looking into new luxury materials.

DT. How do you see this being unique to the marque?

IC. Jaguars are exotic cars, and people buy our cars because they are exciting. But part of this means taking up space so for us it is a case of balancing the exciting with the comfort. So our first priority is the packaging of the vehicle, the physical side of it – the very makeup of comfort, seat value, versatile occupant sitting space…

We then look at ambiance by simplifying the visual architecture. Forms and shapes need to be easily understood, but not be cold. And we offer choice – for a modern twist carbon, and warmer textures such as wood, leather and even cashmere, which we’re working on, to create a sense of softness in the future. We need to see beyond the immediate needs of our customer.

DT. How does technology fit into this?

IC. Beyond this are technology and connectivity, and the visual and verbal connections. The infotainment system has to be as sophisticated as any modern luxury living space. Sound is very important to a British brand, a great quality sound system, and for us it means working with technology companies like Meridian who share our values.

DT. There is usually an element of surprise in your cars, such as the gear leaver in the XJ that pops up when the engine turns on for a sense of theatre…

IC. Yes, Jaguar cars need to offer a little sense of fun, tongue-in-cheek humour and a bit of theatre – if the customer gets it, then brilliant and if not, it doesn’t really matter! We’re doing different surfaces and patterns, which you’ll discover, perhaps hidden in the glove box. The idea is to make people smile.

DT. How do you see the future of luxury car design in the context of driverless cars?

IC. Honestly I don’t know yet! But the first stage will be semi-driverless cars where the driver has the option to let the car be piloted autonomously. All this would mean at this stage is that the infotainment system used by other occupants can extend to the driver. But for safety reasons occupants will still need to be seated [traditionally] and strapped in.

However, for the time being electric cars offer huge possibilities in terms of the architecture of the car for more interior space. Space is increasingly luxury and this is something that we’re working on at the moment.

Nargess Banks

Read our interview on the subject of modern luxury and car design here.

Read more about Jaguar design here.

Design Talks | 5 – 25 Scrutton Street | Old Street | Shoreditch | London | EC2A 4HJW | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
All rights and labelled images are covered by ©