Volvo Cars takes part in the Swedish Attraction at the Paris Fashion Week, where over 14 brands are showing the world what hot Swedish design is all about. "This is an excellent opportunity to show our commitment to design as a brand value," says Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Cars.
Becoming part of the design and fashion world has been a conscious and long-term strategy for Volvo Cars. During the past year, Volvo Cars has been present at world events such as the Milan Furniture Fair, Future Design Days in Stockholm, and at the sport design show Ispo in Munich. The Paris Fashion Week has now been added to that list.
Paris Fashion Week is the most important occasion in the fashion world; an event which gathers fashion and design interested people from all over the world. This year, fashion and design brands from Sweden have been given a unique opportunity; the Swedish Attraction exhibition showing only Swedish brands.
By last year, Swedish design had already become hot in Paris, so hot in fact that the Fashion Week organisers requested that Swedish brands put together this special show. Together with Volvo Cars, the Swedish fashion and design elite will be participating: both trendy fashion brands such as Whyred and Nakkna, as well as established design veterans such as Orrefors and Ericsson.
"Design is an evermore-important differentiator for our customers, especially the urban city people that are interested in the new Volvo C30," says Steve Mattin, Design Director at Volvo Cars.
The automotive industry and the fashion industry have quite a lot in common. The haute couture
of the fashion world is equivalent to the concept cars: fancy one-offs that will never go into mass production. And the prêt-a-porter of the fashion world can be translated to production cars.
"We always aim to use ideas from our concept cars in production," says Steve Mattin. "As a rather small manufacturer we must dare to be different."
One clear differentiator for Volvo is the floating centre stack that sits like a jewel in the centre of each car. Already today, it comes in a number of variations, from brushed aluminium to i-pod inspired ‘technical white' to organic patterns in brushed aluminium.
Steve Mattin says, "In Paris we also show some ideas of patterns and colours that we are toying with. Some of these might go into production; others may never go any further. What matters are the playfulness and the wide range of choices available for our customers for them to make the car their very own."
Typically the car industry has long lead times: what the design team at Volvo is working on today may not come into production for another five years. Once in the market, each car will be on the streets for at least another 15-20 years. This means that the car designers have traditionally not focused on short-term fashion trends, but looked for more long-lasting tendencies. Until now, that is, when Volvo introduces the exchangeable centre stack. This stack allows you to choose a modern, daring, or just fun centre stack today and still be able to change your mind next month.
Centre stack ideas shown in Paris:
The kitsch art, the forbidden "bad taste", naïve perspectives and strong colours are important elements for Swedish painters like Ernst Billgren, Marie Louise Ekman and Jockum Nordström. They have inspired the younger generation Swedish designers to stretch the limits of what can be accepted by the connoisseurs of fine design.
Volvo's designers see this as a playful questioning of the calm, airy Scandinavian design that has been the dominating trend for decades. The style should provoke you, you either love it or hate it, but it should not leave you unaffected.
An organic pattern that grows asymmetrically from on one corner of the centre stack. This inspired by the board sports: kite board, snowboard, surfboard, wakeboard, you name it.
In the sports design world, pattern is the name of the game. Surf is a limited edition, and you can get this centre stack in your Volvo C30 during 2007.
Dalecarlian wooden horses in this kind of kurbits pattern have been earlier generation's way of showing traditional Swedish Design. This pattern has been a big no-no for any trend aware Swede for decades, as it is very far from the clean, almost minimalist contemporary Scandinavian design.
Here, Volvo's designers play around with this folkloristic design heritage. Maybe it is time to re-value, re-shape and re-play old icons?
Black and white
The ever modern contrast colours, now trendier than ever. These black and white centre stacks are made in Swedish flame birch a special kind of birch common in Scandinavia. The pattern is made in the same colour: black on black and white on white, a very popular technique in both architecture and design. Altogether very contemporary, very chic.
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