Materials, and colour and trim will increasingly occupy a more central role in automotive design. We catch up with Fabio Filippini, chief creative officer at Pininfarina, who shares his thoughts on the growing trends in this area and explores how his team at the Italian design consultancy are navigating the future of the interior.
How would you define the current major material, and colour and trim trends?
The trend is in offering more variety and options, and I think the level of difference ambiances and specific personalisation [a company offers] is the biggest selling factor. This applies to hyper luxury cars for extreme tailoring, but is also true of say the Smart city car.
We’re also seeing bright colours, patterns and textures that give the feeling of being hand-made, the feeling of craftsmanship.
What has excited you recently with new materials, new manufacturing processes and technologies?
Textile optical fibre that transmits light, special finishing for carbon fibre, exposed exteriors and interiors – these are all ideas we have shared with our other departments. In terms of sustainability, the reuse of natural fibres and making composite substitutes out of natural fibre.
Any specific examples…
Graphene is a new frontier of entertainment material. This is a new composite made of carbon that is clean and can transmit electricity as well as being resistant, flexible and react to shape. It can be used on surfaces to be interactive and is good for screens. It can offer a high level of flexibility and react to stimulation so it is a big step for the interface system.
I’m excited about processes whereby you can mould and treat surfaces to create patterns and textures. For example, 3D printing and digital software, used in architecture and design, can create intricate patterns in unexpected ways. The boundaries are not so defined anymore.
How much do you share ideas with other design sectors from the world of furniture, interiors, product design and fashion?
We are privileged to have different departments working with other products – furniture, sailing boats, trains, airline… so there is a great deal of good contamination from the different disciplines of creativity. We also keep up with global creativity.
Would the treatment be very different when dealing with the emission free car of the future and does it require a stronger focus on exploring sustainable materials?
The evolution of electric vehicles and sustainable technology is very relevant and design has to represent this, take advantage of it. Yes, the expression and colour should reflect the advanced technology. When you work with EV you feel more motivated to break with the codes. The customer is also ready to accept it which is double the reason not to make them look like traditional cars.
Yes, our Cambiano concept of 2012 where we used quite a bit of traditional wood, but in a provocative way. This is a luxury electric car, therefore it has to be technological and innovative. Yet we used recycled wood in a crude yet refined way, and placed in unexpected areas. So even though the element of luxury feeling recalls the traditional code, it still broke with tradition.