Working at Volvo

Driven to create

From fashion to food, from music to design, Sweden is renowned the world over as a hub of creativity. Here, some Volvo Cars innovators talk about what creativity means to them, and how it is shaping a new generation of cars.

BY IAN DICKSON, OCTOBER 2017

Conny Blommé (left) and Kristoffer Johnsson (right)

CONNY BLOMMÉ
The senior interior design manager

“We spend a lot of time figuring out how to make things simpler. To come up with inventive solutions. It’s in our culture to make things that are complicated work together in a way that, when you look at it afterwards, you think ‘that’s simple’. At the start of the process, we create a sculpture of the interior and keep that on our desks so that, when we’re resolving problems, we can always come back to the original design to ensure we were sticking to the original theme.”


KRISTOFFER JOHNSSON
The lighting engineer

“I’ve always been fascinated by light. In Nordic regions, light is very precious to us. We really appreciate those first spring days after a long but cosy and candle-lit winter. We know that light is good for your health and we want to provide that to our customers as well. We have been investigating how we can affect the wellness and alertness of the driver using light.

“We looked at the food industry, at people driving trucks and unloading food into freezers. Just by adding a warm light, you can make these people feel better and not so cold. We undertook some experiments in our cars where they drove around in the middle of the night with blue light inside. Because blue light has a shorter wavelength, it prevents the body from producing melatonin – the hormone that makes you relax and fall asleep.”

Ian Kettle (left) and Tommy Hansson Strand (right)

IAN KETTLE
The exterior designer

“As a child, I was always drawing cars. And my father said ‘you could do that for a job’. So from about the age of seven I always knew what I wanted to do. You might think that as a designer I start with a sketch, but my designs always start with words. For me the creative process begins with writing down what message I want the product to convey, where I think it should be in relation to society and how that fits into what Volvo Cars and the exterior design team want to achieve. That way I can establish a firm foothold of what it is in just a few words.”


TOMMY HANSSON STRAND
The trend spotter

“Creativity is often about being open to new ideas, seeing what is happening in the world and how there might be a new way to solve a problem. Trendspotting is an important part of my job because it helps me to understand how new developments and technology could create useful services for our customers.

“It helps that Sweden has an open, inclusive culture where new trends in fashion, music and technology are picked up and adopted quickly. At Volvo Cars we use trendspotting systematically, with dedicated teams and a network of passionate colleagues around the world. To simplify the process we’ve even developed a mobile app that employees can use. If one of us finds an interesting article, they can share it there and then with everyone. That’s a real source of inspiration.”

“Creativity is often about being open to new ideas, seeing what is happening in the world and how there might be a new way to solve a problem”

Erik Åleby (left) and Andreas Ropel (right)

ERIK ÅLEBY
The designer who made his own watch

“I love design and fabrication. I studied industrial design at university and I am now a specialist designer at Volvo Cars, working with the different materials that we put in our cars. My childhood friend and I, who also happens to work at Volvo design, were graffiti artists when we were growing up and have always been looking at ways to test our creativity. So we have decided to make our own 3D printed watches. We want it to be made from a material that could actually age and get some patina so we went for bronze, which would give it a rusty, orange/brown/blue colour over time. We’re making two. One each. Of course, if someone wants to buy one we’re open to that, too.”

ANDREAS ROPEL
The engineer who made his own smart home

“My hobby and education is in computer programming and interaction design. Combining it with my job as an attribute leader for digital user experience, I have built my own smart house. Everything is connected. The lights, doors, heating. I control it all from an app on my phone, or even using Siri. In the evening, when the house is being prepared for the night, I say goodnight to Siri and all the lights in the house turn off. Functionality is important in Scandinavian design. What you create should have a purpose; it should be useful and intuitive.”

Something new from Volvo Cars

Creativity is central to what we do at Volvo Cars. It’s how we shape new products that make your life less complicated and more enjoyable. This creativity is the driving force behind our new compact SUV, the XC40 – a city SUV bursting with Scandinavian style and innovation.