Turkish artist Esref Armagan is renowned throughout the world for his unique feel for perspective and shape. He was the very first non-employee to be invited to Volvo Car Corporation headquarters in Sweden to see and paint the yet-to-be-revealed next generation Volvo S60. Although the car will not be launched until 2010, Volvo Cars is already revealing his interpretation on the social media site Facebook. But there is an exciting twist to the story: Esref Armagan is blind.
How to generate interest in a product that has not yet been launched? That was the challenge given to Lukas Dohle, director of Live Communication and Social Media, and his team at Volvo Cars in Göteborg, Sweden.
The team came up with the idea of inviting renowned Armagan to Sweden and to let him experience the new Volvo S60 and paint a picture of it. The film documenting the S60 blind preview is available on Volvo Car's own website on Facebook (www.facebook.com/volvo) and on YouTube (www.youtube.com/VolvoCarsNews).
"Since the car itself is not being launched until the Geneva Motor Show next year, this is a unique way for us to show an extraordinary artist's rendition of the forthcoming model," says Dohle.
Armagan uses his hands and the rest of his senses to identify the shape of the object he is painting. He has participated in a number of scientific research projects. For instance, the Discovery television organization produced a documentary in which Professor John Kennedy of Toronto University demonstrates Armagan's ability to capture the right perspective. It defies everything that science previously believed about blind people and their perceptive abilities. Armagan has painted everything from historic buildings, seascapes, flowers and forests to a portrait of former US President Bill Clinton.
This, however, is the very first time he is putting a car on canvas.
"It was an honour for me to be asked to do this and I take it as a confirmation of my ability as an artist," says Armagan.
At the Volvo Cars design studio in Sweden, Armagan met design director Peter Horbury. It was a fruitful meeting in which Horbury showed the artist the jealously guarded secret.
"I'm proud of the new Volvo S60," says Horbury. "It has a much more dynamic and sculpted form than any previous Volvo - it's a very emotive form. That's why this feels like such an exciting project - introducing our forthcoming model to someone as unusual as a blind artist."
On October 19, the first trailer was made available to 400 blogs globally, offering tantalizing glimpses of the car. It is possible to see and discuss the video on Volvo Car's own website on Facebook. Car enthusiasts could also ask Armagan to draw specific details of the car.
Today on October 26, the entire film is available on Facebook. That is the first time the blind artist's interpretation of the new Volvo S60 has been made public.
"It's an amazing experience to work together with Esref Armagan, because he truly embraces life and lives it to the full despite his handicap. It's an approach that exactly matches how we at Volvo embrace life," says Dohle.