There are probably few environments that are so filled with important information and therefore are as well-developed as interiors in various modes of transport. In a relatively compact and limited space, expertises from several different disciplines must work together to collectively create a comfortable and safe environment for passengers and drivers. One who knows what this entails is Avalon’s industrial designer Adam, who is on assignment at SCANIA’s Design Studio in Södertälje where he is working with just that – the vehicle interiors of the future.
Adam, could you briefly talk about your assignment and role at SCANIA?
We both sketch ideas for the form language of the next generation, as well as suggestions on how different areas of use can be improved. When a concept is to be realized, we work with CAD modellers who build the design digitally based on our sketches. We then mill out full-scale models in both clay and polystyrene, which are then adjusted by hand. You need to experience the concept in real scale to see if it feels credible, you notice immediately if something is, for example, over- or under-dimensioned. This is a process that is done in several rounds and during that time, we get input from constructors, ergonomists, and color/material designers. Together we iterate our way to something that ultimately works and meets all requirements.
That sounds exciting, what would you say are the biggest challenges in the work?
An interior consists of many components and it can be difficult to get everything to interact in the way you want. Ideally, you would like to avoid it looking forced or disjointed. This applies all the way from the large, overarching surfaces down to the button modules’ tolerance chains. Besides that, there are many criteria from different fields to take into account and ensure it synchronizes with the design.
Are there any macro trends going on in interior design and vehicles right now?
Taking electric cars as an example, more space is offered since electric vehicle platforms have flat floors without engine tunnels. This is something you want to highlight, to make the entire interior feel spacious and light, for example through illuminated floating panels. Screens have replaced the instrument cluster and the infotainment system, which has led to much slimmer instrument panels.
Finally, if we look ahead 10-15 years from now, how do you think the interiors of vehicles will generally evolve? Do you think the processes and tools for you as designers will have also changed?
There will likely be a big push towards simplification, like more intuitive user interfaces and expanded safety systems to assist the driver. The entire interior experience will change with UX, lighting, feedback from screens and buttons, etc.
Sustainability is another aspect that will become more prominent in areas such as recycled materials, hopefully also solutions on how parts can more easily be interchangeable, sorted, and updated. As I touched on, industrial designers, UX/graphics, and CMF will probably have closer collaborations as everything will more seamlessly blend together in different ways. Tools like VR are already standard for many. Simpler and more accessible CAD programs speed up the concept process. There will certainly be AI-based software that can more quickly make calculations on constructions for one’s design, etc.