To shape the future,
Together with chief designer Michael Mauer and Markus Auerbach, head of interior design, van Hulten experiments every day with what will meet these needs in a few years’ time. The designers keep their minds fresh with the “first principle thinking” method. In doing so, they move away from familiar analogies and break hypotheses down into their smallest components. They focus not on familiar forms but on functions that might be of interest in the future. They ask themselves what a
Interior of the future
“We thought about how we could still give a distinctly
The overall UX, when it comes to interior design, is dedicated to the digital lifestyle and the relationship between driver, passengers, and vehicle. “In the
The side windows are designed asymmetrically. “One side is closed; passengers can retreat there,” explains interior design chief Auerbach. “The other side enjoys a large window bank for an unobstructed view outside. When we close the doors, the interior feels like a protective capsule.” A feeling of security and comfort dominates the modular interior. The passengers in the first row sit offset to the right and left in ergonomically shaped bucket seats. They can enjoy an unobstructed view of the road ahead and of their own dashboard screens. The rear seat headrests are installed in a floating position, which allows a clear view through the rear window. The luxury of adaptable space is made possible by the powertrain: fully electric and hidden in the underbody.
“Far removed from the classic sports-car interior, yet still with a distinctly
UX as a success factor
Ivo van Hulten deals with the clientele of the future—the smartphone generation. “In the past, the hunger for something new was satisfied with the purchase of the product. Today, many young people are no longer just fascinated by the aesthetics of a product, but by the opportunities it offers them.” The aesthetics of the interior therefore depend on many more factors than just shapes and materials. “The questions are: Is the interior modular enough to adapt to changing circumstances even a few years after purchase? Will I be able to run updates remotely and around the clock?” He is confident of finding answers in the form of a new aesthetic: “We are building on an impressive brand history with the UX department—and are boldly looking far into the future.”
His colleague Markus Auerbach adds: “A digital journey can open a gateway to a universe for us, but it can never replace the physical experience. A car is a space that moves whether I’m driving it myself or not. The seats in this van have been designed for movement; they hold and support the body.” He points from the sports seat in the second row to the back bench seat, which resembles a lounge. “The bench seat allows a different sitting angle due to its curved sides—we can turn towards each other. It is a particularly communicative area that invites relaxation, offering alternative seating positions for talking, working, and relaxing.” For the fifty-seven-year-old, the materials of the future include renewable resources such as wood, reinterpreted and combined with metals or sustainable plastics. Wood was once banished from vehicles, but could soon make a comeback. Auerbach also relies on what are known as smart materials, which can do something special—for example, respond to external factors and light up without being directly illuminated. Or materials that repeatedly change their shapes to perfectly fit the ergonomics of the occupants.
“Seen from the outside, a
A sense of space with a soul
The visions on which the specialist departments in Weissach work together are complex because they design spaces where people sit. “Seen from the outside, a
In the next step, van Hulten wants the Renndienst to gain a soul. He remembers the American TV series Knight Rider, which he enjoyed watching as a child. “K.I.T.T., the talking car, fascinated me. The strong team of the protagonist and his vehicle really captured my imagination. I connected with the car because it had a soul.” Referring to the study, he asks the question: “What kind of daily interactions do we plan—in thirty years, will we call our car and then it will come around and pick us up?” From this grand vision of the day after tomorrow, the design team is now moving backwards in time to get the specific answer for tomorrow. With the best of the brand DNA: its soul.
By Christina Rahmes
Photos by Stefan Bogner