Q+A SI­MON LOASBY Con­nect­ing past and fu­ture with clas­sic de­sign

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS -

Volk­swa­gen Open Day was held on Dec 9 to mark the fi­nal stop of the 2013 rally in Guangzhou. Fea­tur­ing de­tailed and in-depth dis­cus­sions, the event al­lowed in­vited guests to share their thoughts on the lead­ing car­maker’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy and its sus­tain­able mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions. Dur­ing the ses­sion ti­tled Volk­swa­gen De­sign Salon, Si­mon Loasby, di­rec­tor of de­sign at the Volk­swa­gen Group China, spoke to China Daily reporter Li Fangfang to elab­o­rate on the com­pany’s well-es­tab­lished de­sign phi­los­o­phy as well as its out­look for the brand’s fu­ture.

What is Volk­swa­gen’s de­sign phi­los­o­phy?

Volk­swa­gen de­sign lan­guage is sim­ple, prod­uct-based, uni­ver­sal, sym­pa­thy and iconic. Through its de­signs, Volk­swa­gen con­veys sim­plic­ity, func­tion­al­ity, per­fect pro­por­tions and el­e­gance.

Our brand’s val­ues and iden­tity are ev­i­dent in each of our de­signs, so that for con­sumers, Volk­swa­gen cars are al­ways im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fi­able.

Fur­ther­more, Volk­swa­gen’s prod­ucts in­te­grate an artis­tic look with ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, and they fea­ture the blend­ing of dif­fer­ent fac­tors, such as brand val­ues, tech­nol­ogy and com­fort, which need to be re­flected in our de­signs.

Volk­swa­gen’s ex­pres­sive de­sign lan­guage en­ables con­sumers to ap­pre­ci­ate Volk­swa­gen’s dis­tinc­tive de­sign themes and their un­der­ly­ing long his­tory and rich le­gends.

The idea of a fam­ily look is not con­fined to Volk­swa­gen or the au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try, but is ex­ten­sively found in other in­dus­tries, such as elec­tron­ics and lux­ury prod­ucts. It is about con­sis­tency and a high de­gree of recog­ni­tion. In the con­text of glob­al­iza­tion, the fam­ily con­cept is be­com­ing a trend.

Mean­while, Chi­nese con­sumers are now look­ing for a greater “diver­sity” of prod­ucts, some­thing that Volk­swa­gen de­sign will also de­liver in the fu­ture.

How does Volk­swa­gen ex­press Chi­nese el­e­ments in its au­to­mo­bile de­signs?

First of all, in spite of its Ger­man ori­gin, Volk­swa­gen has de­vel­oped quite a few mod­els specif­i­cally for the Chi­nese mar­ket, and th­ese mod­els fea­ture many Chi­nese el­e­ments.

The Lavida, San­tana, Jetta and Bora, for ex­am­ple, are de­signed in light of the aes­thetic pref­er­ences of Chi­nese con­sumers. They have been well re­ceived in the Chi­nese mar­kets, show­ing that the mod­els we are bring­ing to the China mar­ket have ex­cel­lent unique char­ac­ter­is­tics and at­trac­tions.

Volk­swa­gen’ de­sign center boasts a truly global de­sign net­work, with eight de­sign cen­ters world­wide, in­clud­ing two in China. They play an im­por­tant role in en­sur­ing that Volk­swa­gen de­signs keep pace with and lead rel­e­vant trends around the world.

Of course, Volk­swa­gen also cre­ates de­signs that cater to the needs of Chi­nese con­sumers. If you pay a visit to our de­sign center in Shang­hai or Changchun or our de­sign of­fice in Wolfs­burg, you will find that many on­go­ing de­sign projects are qui­etly catered to the needs in the Chi­nese mar­kets.

In your in­tro­duc­tion about the pro­por­tions of de­sign, you men­tioned the em­pha­sis on ba­sis, bal­ance and de­tail. How are th­ese con­sid­er­a­tions re­flected in Volk­swa­gen de­signs?

Pro­por­tions play a

cru­cial role in all de­signs. Tak­ing the hu­man face as an ex­am­ple — It has a gen­eral ra­tio for length to width, and if the ra­tio is slightly changed, the over­all look will be dif­fer­ent.

Be­sides the over­all ra­tio, the bal­ance of var­i­ous el­e­ments is also im­por­tant. An ad­just­ment of ev­ery mi­nor el­e­ment can lead to a dif­fer­ent ef­fect.

On the ba­sis of a bal­anced ra­tio, at­ten­tion will then be given to the re­fine­ment of de­tails: trim, make-up and color ar­range­ments can help en­hance ef­fects on the ba­sis of well-pro­por­tioned and well­bal­anced el­e­ments, with­out which no dec­o­ra­tion is of any avail.

That’s why, when Volk­swa­gen de­sign­ers start a new de­sign, the first thing to do is to de­ter­mine a rea­son­able pro­por­tion and seek the best bal­ance of many el­e­ments.

There is an ex­cel­lent pro­por­tion in the world, called the golden ra­tio, which is 1.618. The golden ra­tio is not a man­made for­mula but a fact nat­u­rally dis­cov­ered in the process of hu­man de­vel­op­ment.

In Volk­swa­gen’s prod­ucts, the golden ra­tio is ev­ery­where to be found. In the case of the New Golf, the de­sign­ers, rather than sim­ply ap­ply­ing the ra­tio, have the ra­tio re­flected in all as­pects for the best pos­si­ble ef­fect.The sim­ple hor­i­zon­talline front grille, in par­tic­u­lar, brings out a sharp dy­namism and makes the New Golf highly rec­og­niz­able. In fact, the New Golf is in the most per­fect ever state in both body pro­por­tion and bal­ance de­sign el­e­ments. This is an ex­pres­sion of both Volk­swa­gen’s con­sis­tent de­sign phi­los­o­phy and its com­mit­ment to con­sumers and cus­tomers.

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Volk­swa­gen has cre­ated many clas­sic mod­els for con­sumers. What is the di­rec­tion of Volk­swa­gen de­signs in the fu­ture?

For more than 70 years, Volk­swa­gen has al­ways been com­mit­ted to its unique de­sign DNA, which has been man­i­festly ex­pressed by its top-qual­ity cars.

From the iconic first gen­er­a­tion of Bee­tle (1938) to Pas­sat (1973), Golf (1974) and POLO (1975), it has cre­ated many epoch-mak­ing car master­pieces for the world.

The Volk­swa­gen XL1, Tai­gun and Cross­Blue Coupé, on the other hand, rep­re­sent the fu­ture de­sign lan­guage of Volk­swa­gen and open up a new per­spec­tive for Volk­swa­gen de­sign.

In the fu­ture, lux­ury sedans, SUVs and hatch­backs will have their own dis­tinc­tive fea­tures in ap­pear­ance, and the com­pany will move to­ward a greater de­gree of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and diver­sity of mod­els while also re­tain­ing Volk­swa­gen’s core de­sign lan­guage and fam­ily look.

As the Chi­nese mar­ket be­comes in­creas­ingly ma­ture with the deep­en­ing of glob­al­iza­tion, Volk­swa­gen will pro­vide the Chi­nese con­sumers prod­ucts that are more diver­si­fied, dif­fer­en­ti­ated and in­di­vid­u­al­ized.

Amidst the rapid changes that both the mar­ket and the Chi­nese con­sumers are un­der­go­ing against the back­drop of the chang­ing times, Volk­swa­gen is well po­si­tioned in its de­sign to keep pace with the times and lead trends.

The Volk­swa­gen of tomorrow will present global de­signs with re­gional dif­fer­en­ti­a­tions. The world is chang­ing, so is Volk­swa­gen as it lis­tens, adapts and de­vel­ops. Con­tact the writer at li­fang­fang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The Volk­swa­gen XL1

Si­mon Loasby, di­rec­tor of de­sign at Volk­swa­gen Group China

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