The business of interior car design

Style, comfort and safety don’t stop at your front door

Our homes are so much more than simply being a roof over our heads. They are our havens, which is why we spend a lot of time and effort creating a space that greets us like a big, familiar hug when we walk through the front door. Combine that with a need of functionality and safety, it is no wonder that many of us are turning to interior architecture and design experts who are there to guide us through the process of creating our dream abode.

But great design, comfort and safety don’t stop at the front door. Our cars tend to morph into mobile living rooms, as we ferry around our families, commute to and from the office, and hit the open road for long, relaxing getaways. Thankfully, the business of car interior design has become a lot more sophisticated and innovative over the years, with manufacturers looking well beyond our basic need of getting from A to B.

Choose your own palette

Designers of auto interiors often draw inspiration from home furnishings, architecture, and even fashion, to create an environment that stimulates emotion while answering the need for practicality. Just like with your home, design often starts with a mood board of sketches and fabric swatches to ensure that colours and textures work together with the car’s overall look and feel.

A mood board is the best place to start when designing
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

But they are not stopping there. Jonathan Lam, Product Planning Manager at Hyundai Australia, says “A lot of manufacturers have recognised that one size doesn’t fit all in today’s market, and that an increasing number of customers are looking to express themselves in different ways.” And that includes giving buyers the ability to personalise their car’s interior by choice of fabrics. “Even the new Venue offers three different interior colours with contrasting trim highlights to choose from.” he says.

While the colour scheme may set the mood, the fabrics still have to do their job of providing comfort while ensuring minimal wear and tear. Considering how many times we get in and out of our cars, the hours we spend in them, and the amount of time they are out in the blazing sun, that’s no mean feat. Like our hallways and living rooms, our cars are high-traffic areas (pardon the pun) so durability is a must.

Hey, Siri…

The greatest innovation of the car’s interior has been brought about by the development of technology that has completely redefined the way we interact with our cars. While we may be used to thinking of our them as a second living room, they now also double as an office and social playground, with connectivity through CarPlay and Android Auto allowing us the freedom to send messages, make calls and access our favourite apps all at the swipe of a finger. The good, old-fashioned dashboard with its radio and ventilation fans has been replaced with wide touchscreens and control functions all accessible at arm’s reach, opening the doors for auto designers to collaborate with tech giants such as Bosch, Apple and Google.

Connectivity through Apple CarPlay or Auto Android is becoming standard
(Credit: Hyundai)

Although less visible, our car’s interior has also had to be re-thought to make way for the increasing number of safety features that are being integrated. Forward collision avoidance and driver attention warnings are but some of the features made possible through cameras and sensors that are fitted into the car’s cabin.

With auto manufacturers responding to advancements in technology and customer demand, our cars have evolved beyond simply being a means of getting around. Comfortable, connected, safe and stylish, they have become more like our home on the go.

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