Volvo — Scandinavian standard
It might have been a coincidence or not, but during Fashion Week Stockholm the automobile company Volvo had one of their greatest launches ever. The brand, founded in Sweden 1927, presented the Volvo XC90 to the world.
The location was set at Artipelag, a wonderful private art initiative that opened its doors in 2012. Overlooking the Stockholm archipelago and in the middle of a pine tree forest, I had a chat with Maria Uggla, head of Interior design at Volvo, on the importance of heritage in design.
With many European Car companies now owned by Asian motor companies, like Jaguar and Tata for instance (and now Volvo with Chinese Geely Motors), do you think that it is more important than ever to display the almost century-old Swedish heritage in the design and interior design of a Volvo? “The Scandinavian form langue is a strong identity that has been important for us at Volvo Designveven before Geelys. But we communicate it in a stronger way today.”
Could you give me a few examples of Inspiration that you have drawn from Sweden in this new vehicle?
“The interior is inspired by contemporary Scandinavian lifestyle. We want to make our customer to feel calm and well taken care of in our new vehicle. You should feel special.”
In the all new Twin Engine XC90, the gear shift is crowned by a large crystal from Orrefors, one of Sweden's oldest glass works, founded in 1898,howdid thatidea come about?
“We always try to find those things in the design that strengthen our Swedish brand identity. One of our designer Anders Bergstrom designed it for one of our concept cars, the Concept Estate, and it was such a great success we decided to put it in our production car.”
An interesting aspect in the new vehicle is that the audio is said to be mimicking the exact acoustics of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, how do you as an interior designer work together with innovative tech on a project like this, what does that process look like?
“The interior design doesn't need to worry about this as we use the latest and greatest sound processing software from Dirac Live which adjusts the sound profile of the interior electronically. So we just concentrate on making the most beautiful interior.”
You mentioned that one of the color schemes in the vehicle was a typical Swedish LIGHT. Not a beige and not a grey. Are there any more typical Swedish features in the XC90? “The whole car I would say is filled with typical Swedish features, like the matt wood which shows the natural wood structure and the Flame Birch wood that has grown up in the northern Sweden where the climate makes the birch grow quite slowly and with a characteristic pattern on the veneer.
We in Sweden have a special way of treating our materials, we want to have them quite clean, pure and honest with as little finish as possible.”