Design

Designed for every moment

The new Volvo V60 blends beautiful aesthetics with stunning functionality to help you make the most of every moment. We talk to its designer, T. Jon Mayer, about how these qualities epitomise Scandinavian design.

BY LEO WILKINSON

Protecting what's important

‘When I started designing the V60, I was passionate about making it the most beautiful car in its segment,‘ says T. Jon Mayer. T. Jon, who is now senior director of design at the Volvo Cars Design and Concept Center in Los Angeles. It’s a car designed to provide you with memorable moments for years to come, he says – an object you’ll never tire of looking at, yet which is also practical and functional.

The V60 develops Volvo Cars’ distinctive design language with a strong, simple style that T. Jon refers to as ‘dynamic and elegant’. “Good design has enduring appeal,” says T. Jon. “And the best Scandinavian design is timeless because it’s honest and simple, yet executed with true quality. It’s beauty that will last.

“Strength in design is often about keeping things simple,” he explains. “Having the courage to reduce rather than to add.” This simplicity is reflected in the clarity of purpose and purity of line that define the V60. “It projects confidence, yet it’s understated,” he says. “It has a quiet inner confidence. This is something that exemplifies Swedish luxury.”

Originally from the United States, T. Jon is now based at Volvo Cars’ Gothenburg headquarters. And he believes that the unique quality of life in Sweden is as important to shaping his work as it is to informing Scandinavian design. “There’s a refined sense of luxury here in Sweden,” he says.

The pared-back approach that’s so evident in Swedish architecture and fashion has helped shape the V60, says T. Jon. And, he says, it explains why he and his team placed such importance on getting the car’s basic proportions right.

‘The distance between the front wheel and door is really pronounced – it’s these kinds of proportions that give the V60 a true premium appearance. When you get the proportions just right, it instinctively makes a product more satisfying and more beautiful to look at.‘

The V60 has the kind of considered, refined features that are a part of all good Scandinavian design. “Something that people will notice is the depth of the body sides – the way the car curves inward along the doors. You can really see it when you open the door and there’s an almost S-shaped profile to the metal. It helps to give the athletic, dynamic character we wanted.”

Shaping the surfaces of the car is like sculpting with light, T. Jon says. “A car is a reflective object,” he explains. “So I spend a lot of time looking at how objects, lines and even the horizon reflect on my designs, to make the surface come alive.” One of the most noticeable examples of this is the way that light plays on the sculptured bodywork above the rear wheels of the V60, enhancing the car’s sense of poise and power.

In common with the best Scandinavian design, the V60 successfully combines appealing aesthetics with a clear sense of purpose. For the V60 that meant a design that expressed not only the car’s dynamic nature, but also its functionality.

“The shape of the rear of the car lets you know that it offers a lot of space inside,” adds T. Jon. “It’s a car that allows you to throw all your stuff inside and pursue your passions, and we really wanted to communicate that with the design.

“And we kept the shape of the side windows long and deep, to emphasise the car’s practicality and let a lot of light into the cabin. This works in harmony with the pronounced rear shoulders to really enhance the athletic character of the V60.”

T. Jon believes that the best Scandinavian design has an enduring quality that makes it something you can enjoy for years to come. “The V60 really is a beautiful car, one that will give you a thrill whenever you catch its reflection in, say, a shop window,” says T. Jon. “But more than anything, it’s a car that you will want to get behind the wheel of and just drive.”