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10 questions with Volvo interior design director Lisa Reeves

08 May 2020 - 11:43 By thomas falkiner
Lisa Reeves is the director of interior design at Volvo Cars.
Lisa Reeves is the director of interior design at Volvo Cars.
Image: Supplied

Lisa Reeves gets to oversee and design the interiors of Volvo cars for a living.

Thomas Falkiner chats to her about why she got into the game, what effect electrification is having on the industry, and how Volvo makes their interiors stand out from the rest. 

1: What steered you towards a career in designing car interiors?

I enjoyed drawing from an early age and throughout school my favourite topics were art and design.

My interest in cars came through my childhood experiences. My father is a car enthusiast. I accompanied him when he attended and competed in motorsport events, and developed my own interest in cars 

It was when I visited  universities to apply for product design and car design courses that I realised the creative potential, and that my greater interest was in car design.  

2: What do you want people to feel when they are inside a Volvo product?

We want people to feel special and comfortable in a calm environment created by good, clean design and  use of beautiful materials, and reassured by a refined quality, 

They do not need to be worried or confused by overwhelming technology and features. Controls are minimal, logical, easy to find and intuitive. 

3: How has automotive interior design changed over the last 10 years?

Opportunities for interior design have increased over the last 10 years. Technology progression such as screens, touch controls and the ability to combine technology into surface materials can give more freedom to interior design themes.

With electrification we can change the platform and layout of components, and engineer new components giving more flexibility in space and layout of the interior design.

Reeves wants Volvo customers to feel 'special and comfortable in a calm environment created by good clean design'.
Reeves wants Volvo customers to feel 'special and comfortable in a calm environment created by good clean design'.
Image: Supplied

4: What makes Volvo interiors stand out over those made by rival manufacturers?

In my opinion, Volvo's Scandinavian design roots of elegant, clean design, enhanced by beautiful natural materials, and combined with thoughtful human interface solutions, help Volvo interiors to be unique. 

5: What effect, if any, is electrification having on the way you design a car’s interior?

Electrification enables new configurations of new components on new platforms. This can provide more space and change layouts in the interior, for example more floor space and bigger storage opportunities. 

Electrification is combined with sustainable energy, so we are conscious to reduce weight and explore new processes with more sustainable and lighter materials, combined with smart use of components in design.

New opportunities will enable a more progressive shift in interior design.

6: Is there a difference in the way you design a Volvo interior as opposed to a Polestar interior?

In design we use inspiration to influence the feeling we want to capture in our designs, so we will have different inspiration and design language for the different brands. Both brands are progressive in sustainability and technology for optimal customer experience.

Polestar is pure, progressive performance, and avant-garde in design influenced by technology. Volvo is the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable and safe way and therefore takes influence from nature and a more 'humancentric' approach.

The Volvo Sensus infotainment system. Volvo will increase digitisation in future models.
The Volvo Sensus infotainment system. Volvo will increase digitisation in future models.
Image: Supplied

7: What are some of the biggest challenges currently faced by an automotive interior designer?

The rate of progression of technology is a challenge, especially as the car takes years to develop. There's the need to be flexible when new solutions are available.

There are always packaging challenges with so many components that want to occupy the same space within reach of the passengers. Also to capture the wide needs of a global market within a single product.

The opportunities for interior design for the future due to advances in technology, materials, electrification and autonomous drive are really exciting.

9: Let’s touch on Volvo Sensus. As an infotainment system it has often been criticised for not having enough mechanical buttons for simple functions such as temperature or fan speed control. Is this something you might address in the future, or will you stay with this digital-focused approach?

A lot of research has gone into Volvo Sensus to provide a great user interface for the customer, providing a logical and hassle-free experience.

Customers are becoming increasingly familiar with the progression of digital products on the market. A digital interface can offer great opportunities to personalise and learn frequent preferences for customers to improve their daily experience.  

Our aim is to provide a calm interior, avoiding too many physical buttons for functions that can overwhelm and confuse the driver.

We instead focus on an easy to use, hassle-free system that can adapt to customer preferences. The digital system is synced with the additional options of voice control and physical buttons in easy reach on the steering wheel. With a digital system we have the ability to embrace change, adapt to customer feedback and upgrade to provide the latest technology.

10: Sustainability is a big industry buzzword at the moment . How is Volvo bringing this into the realm of interior design?

Volvo is a 'humancentric' brand with responsible values: sustainability to minimise our environmental impact and protect our planet is at the core of the business values.

In interior design we can be innovative to provide smart solutions in the number and use of components, and understand new manufacturing processes to design surfaces for the new properties of recycled  and natural materials.

Volvo has a mission to have 25% recycled plastics in new cars by 2025.