TORONTO (October 2, 2006) – The exterior of the highly anticipated 2007 Volvo C30 coupe, which made its public debut September 28 at the Paris Mondial de l’Automobile, was the responsibility of Canadian Simon Lamarre.
Born in a suburb of Montreal in 1968, Lamarre studied Pure and Applied Science at College Jean-de-Brebeuf and Environmental Design at Université du Quebéc. He joined Volvo in March, 1995 as a clay modeler just as the company was beginning to adopt computers as an essential design tool. He’s fluent in French, English and Swedish and has a “working knowledge” of Italian, Spanish and German.
As a Studio Chief Designer for Volvo Car Corporation, Lamarre first entered the automotive design spotlight with his role in the interior design of the company’s successful XC90 sport utility vehicle. The launch of the XC90 in 2002 extended the Volvo vehicle line-up to a new segment and represented one of the largest passenger vehicles in company history.
This time, Lamarre has taken Volvo Cars in the other direction: to the premium compact segment. The four-passenger C30 is a full 22 cm shorter than the five-passenger Volvo S40 sedan.
“I definitely enjoy working on something that isn’t mainstream,” says Lamarre. “But the C30 was extra fun because it was stepping away from what people would normally perceive as a Volvo.”
Lamarre explains that Volvo Cars has typically been a family-focused company with vehicles designed to accommodate both parents and children. The C30, on the other hand, is designed to appeal to the single crowd or couples. He says this new direction not only created excitement and high expectations for the car within the company, it also fed his enthusiasm for the project.
“I wanted to create something that’s different, but would still be perceived as a Volvo,” he recalls. He says it was a mandate that required a delicate touch and adds it’s a reason why he feels the automobile represents the ultimate design challenge. “Designing a car is all about finding a balance between many different aspects,” he says. “You have to consider manufacturing capabilities, it has to look good, be useful and be economically viable. On top of that, you have government regulations to consider.”
But the biggest challenge to automotive designers is how people interpret their work. “You can quantify engineering, but you can’t quantify design,” he says. “To me, good design makes a statement without screaming at you. So I try to keep my design work simple with simple shapes, no excessive folds in the sheet metal and no ornamentation.”
Indeed, Lamarre’s views on design mesh well with Volvo Cars’ Scandinavian-influenced form-follows-function design philosophy. With his North American perspective, Lamarre feels he was at an advantage while learning that philosophy. “When I moved to Sweden, I had to learn Scandinavian design and values. That led me to view them with a different eye without taking anything for granted.”
Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 43 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company’s product range includes the elegant C70 hardtop convertible, the versatile V70 wagon, the S60 sport sedan, the compact and sporty S40 and V50, and an XC-line of vehicles that includes the rugged XC70 and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For 2007, the company is introducing two new models: the second-generation S80 luxury flagship sedan and the stylish and sporty C30.
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FACTS: SIMON LAMARRE
Studio Chief Designer
Volvo Car Corporation, Göteborg, Sweden
October 29, 1968 Ste Thèrése, Quebéc
College Jean-de-Brebeuf CEGEP, Pure & Applied Science
Université du Quebéc à Montréal, Environmental Design
French, English, Swedish
Göteborg, Sweden, with Annette, a son and twin daughters