How Volvo U.S. design chief Nick Gronenthal is inspired

A graduate of the ArtCenter College of Design, Gronenthal is based north of Los Angeles at the Volvo Design Concept Center in Camarillo, California. Opened in 1989, the studio is credited with his design of the original XC90 SUV exterior, among other designs, and collaborates with the Volvo Design Studios in China and Sweden.

Gronenthal, 41, sat on the sidelines of CES to speak with staff reporter Jack Walsworth. Below is an edited excerpt.

Q: How big is your design team in California?

Ah: About 20 people. We are a small concentration studio. We are an advanced concept studio. As you can see here, it’s not just production vehicles going through the normal product cycle that we’re always designing. [points to EX90]but sometimes advanced programs decades ahead.

From where you stand in California, what does your role entail? Do you work with locations in China and Sweden?

we are a big team. Each teammate has a specialty. We are an advanced studio, we do production work as well as advanced work. Robin Page is the Global Director of Design based in Sweden. Robin is my boss and is in charge of interior and exterior design, just like in Shanghai and Gothenburg. We participate in those competitions and exchange designs. Give them an overview and then work with them. I speak with them every week. have weekly meetings, Beginning of the sketch stage. we will send them. Discuss with our design leadership team in Sweden to select designs to move forward.

How many designs will come from the US location as opposed to the other two locations?

it depends. Automotive design is largely based on competition. Multiple designers working on the same program. Each of them worked on their own proposals, and further, further, further, until they became one vehicle. Clearly, no one person designs their own car. We work as a large team. It depends on who is chosen and what moves forward.

What is your design inspiration?

all sorts of things. i love airplanes I’m a huge aerospace guy. I look at aerospace all the time.they tend to be far ahead of us [automotive design], sometimes 30, 40 years ahead. For example, some of the planes we see today were designed in his 80s and are still coming out as new. We think of them as new, but they are already old technologies.I am always intrigued by how advanced the sector is [and] that industry. Creatively, I am a big fan of furniture. Collect furniture and redo yourself. I’m always really intrigued by the amount of creativity that comes out of furniture design.

Can you imagine design elements from the EX90 being incorporated into other Volvos?

I think there’s something we’ll see across our brand range… I wouldn’t say it’s going to be exactly like this, but I think it’s going to be a coherent lineup. Discover the identity and brand language common to all vehicles.

From a design perspective, is the implementation of technologies such as lidar a challenge?

Something like that is a big challenge. We put a lot of thought into where you put it and how you get there. Trial and error, dealing with all sorts of real failures to find the right position for such things at run [EX90] where is it [lidar] Perfect for any position you need for safety. In my opinion, if it saves him one life, it’s worth having such technology.

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