Name: Stephen (Steve) Mattin
Present position: Senior Vice President, Design
Joined Volvo Car Corporation: 1 May 2005.
Born: 29 October 1964 in Bedford, England
Education: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree Industrial Design 1983-1987, Coventry University, England
2003-2005: Senior Design Manager, DaimlerChrysler. Exterior/Interior Design S-, M-, R-Class, SL, SLK, SLR, Maybach (DE/P2E).
2000–2003: Senior Design Manager, DaimlerChrysler. Exterior/Interior Design M-, R-, G-Class (DE/P4).
1993-2000: Design Manager, DaimlerChrysler.
1990-1993: Senior Designer, DaimlerChrysler.
1987-1990: Designer, DaimlerChrysler.
1997 Designer of the year - Autocar Magazine
1987 Winner – Royal Society of Arts Design Bursary competition (automotive section)
1986 Finalist – PRI Plastics on the Road competition
1979 Winner – BP Style It competition
Languages: English and German
Hobbies: cars, driving, travel, design & art, photography, cooking, relaxing with friends.
This is the man who, after eighteen years with Mercedes-Benz, he will set his stamp on the Volvo cars of the future. Steve Mattin is patently passionate about cars and design.
“A car is a sculpture on wheels,” he says.
Steve Mattin is quite unassuming about his role. He points out that designing a car is always a team effort, calling for commitment from all concerned. He describes himself as a something of a perfectionist, anxious to see the design process all the way through – from first sketch to finished vehicle.
Before his appointment, he was contacted personally by Hans-Olov Olsson, the previous CEO and President of Volvo Car Corporation and J. Mays, Chief Creative Officer at Ford Motor Company. But he reveals that it was no easy matter to decide to switch firms, given the fact that he had been with Mercedes-Benz ever since he graduated from Coventry University in 1987 with a BA (Hons) in Industrial Design (Transportation). Although England is his native country, Stuttgart had become his ‘social home’ . But as soon as he had accepted Volvo Car's offer, he suddenly started noticing Volvos more and more.
Ten years later he was to be named “Designer of the Year” by the British motoring magazine Autocar. In the course of his career at Mercedes-Benz he was responsible for the exterior design of a whole series of models, including the A-Class, the S-Class, the C-Class sports coupé and the SL. He had the overall design responsibility for the new M-Class, concept cars for the Grand Sports Tourer and the production version of that vehicle, the R-Class. He gets a real kick out of seeing the finished product on the roads.
“A car is an object constantly on the move, to be found in all sorts of different surroundings. You can be anywhere in the world and see one of your cars. You spread your own personality and creativity onto the rest of the world.”
The car industry is very prone to changing trends, but a judicious approach is essential. A designer needs always to have an eye to the appeal a vehicle will have in five or ten years’ time.
“I try not to follow trends. It is best to be a trendsetter yourself," he says and points out that you need to avoid blandness.
He thinks Volvo needs to maintain its independence and preserve the uniqueness of its brand.
He is conscious of the designer’s share of responsibility for ergonomics, safety and environmental aspects, and believes that good design is essential to enhance a brand’s core values.
“Good design will last well and still be seen as fresh and new, years later. Design and quality go together – not just fit and finish, but also visual quality.”
Steve Mattin grew up in the village of Wootton, in Bedfordshire, England. Fond of drawing for as long as he can remember, he thought at first that he wanted to be an architect. His father, an electrical engineer, was fascinated by cars, and he soon started taking Steve and his younger brother to England’s biggest car show each year.
“It was the highlight of the year. From the age of eight onwards, I thought about nothing but cars.”
When it comes to inspiration, everything is grist to his mill – buildings, furniture, and consumer products in general. Above all you need to keep your eyes open. Even the tiniest detail can etch itself somewhere in your memory and come in useful at a later date.
“Design is a passion I have, so it is difficult to screen off. It is never an eight-to-five job,” says Steve Mattin.