In the driving seat
Volvo Cars senior vice president of design, Robin Page, reveals how minimalist Scandinavian design and Swedish craftsmanship combine in the new S60. The result, he says, is a luxurious interior that’s been designed to put an emphasis on driving.
“I think that people now expect us to take the lead in purity and simplicity in interior design,” says Robin Page, senior vice president of design at Volvo Cars. “It’s a big part of the brand. And it’s connected not only to contemporary Scandinavian design, but also safety and driving enjoyment. By minimising distraction, you are able to better focus on what’s important – driving.”
Sit in the driver’s seat of the new S60 and you understand exactly what Robin means. It’s a space that feels perfectly tailored to enjoying the drive, with unfussy design, high-quality materials and outstanding comfort. It’s luxurious, yet you feel connected to the road.
Part of that connected feeling comes from the fact that you sit comparatively low, says Robin. “Owners of dynamic cars like the new S60 like being lower to the ground,” he says. “They appreciate the extra manoeuvrability and agility this car will have over SUVs. It’s one of its most appealing aspects.” And, further enhancing the feeling of being connected – engaged with the car – the seat also hugs the driver. “You will feel at one with it,” says Robin. “It’s a key quality of all cars that prioritise driving enjoyment.”
The large centre touch screen is testament to Volvo Cars’ desire to keep things simple. “Driving should be intuitive, and never confusing,” says Robin. “We don’t want switches and clutter everywhere. That just distracts you. Everything in the cabin should be useful for the driver and the passengers. That’s human-centric design.”
“Driving should be intuitive, and never confusing. We don’t want switches and clutter everywhere”
Senior Vice President, Design, Volvo Cars
Many of the car’s functions are operated through this centre display with touch screen. “Thanks to smartphones, people are now perfectly comfortable with touch screens,” says Robin.
The layout of the interior of the new S60 feels uncluttered and luxurious. Subtle flourishes such as the curved décor trim panel and diamond-pattern finishes for the controls exude a sense of craftsmanship – this is a car where the thought that has gone into the selection and treatment of the materials used in it is abundantly clear.
R-Design models, for example, focus on a more athletic, technical feel. With a Charcoal colour theme, Metal Mesh Aluminium décor panels and upholstery in Fine Nappa leather and Open Grid textile. The Contour seats also get contrasting stitching and piping.
Robin has previously worked for luxury car brands such as Bentley, Bugatti and Rolls-Royce. “I learnt a lot,” he says. “And one of the main lessons was to use the best natural materials, respect them, and use them in the right way. As soon as you start using materials in an unnatural way, it stops looking real. Premium materials such as leather and wood must look, and feel, real. Used properly, these materials contribute to the sense of wellbeing that is so important to Volvo cars.”
In the new S60 that sense of wellbeing is part of a unique driving experience. While Volvo Cars’ engineers have focused on creating a car that’s rewarding to drive, Robin and his team have crafted an interior that builds on those emotions.
The Defiant Pioneers
Alchemy of leather
For more than thirty years, the interiors of Volvo cars have been graced with the finest leather from Bridge of Weir Leather Company in Scotland. Because behind every luxurious piece of Bridge of Weir leather, you’ll find over a century’s worth of craftsmanship, knowledge and expertise. In fact, many consider it to be the finest automotive leather in the world. Well, why else would it be in your Volvo?
Designer’s notebook: how I designed the XC40
The story behind the XC40’s bold, youthful exterior design, as told by its lead designer