Volvo is one of the world’s best known premium car brands with a history of numerous safety innovations. It’s XC range continues to win industry and consumer awards globally.
Volvo has been evolving their brand and range to become more premium under the stewardship of Chief Design Officer Thomas Ingenlath. In this context Door was engaged to explore how to create a feeling of premium in a digital dashboard (HMI) where the typical signifiers utilised in analogue versions are not applicable.
Working closely with Christine Lindberg Head of User Experience Design and the Volvo design team over a series of design sprints we explored a series of different directions to creating a sense of digital luxury. Rather than the project being a “future of…”, the objective was to focus on what could be practically delivered on the next range of XC models due 2020/2021.
We began by developing design principals that felt uniquely Volvo and premium to give our work directionality. These were turned into an inspiration guide for Volvo’s design team to be a catalyst for creating their digital design language and DNA.
As well as a shift to electric power, cars are evolving from passive to intelligent objects as autonomy levels increase. So increasingly we are designing behaviour and things that cannot be seen. For instance, how should an autonomous Volvo behave and express itself? To fold these drivers into our work, we also developed thematic concepts to use as creative spring boards for the UI/UX exploration.
We looked for inspiration and research beyond the automotive world, as consumer expectations are increasingly being shaped out of sector. From the outset we animated all our work to explore concepts such as graceful motion and adaptive UI, and key areas such as functional menus and navigation. As part of the process we were able to review our designs in a car at Volvo’s Studio in Gothenburg to see them in context.
Early animation sketch exploring adaptive UI and the concept of graceful motion.
Early explorations of maps, menus and autonomy
The project generated 12 different design concepts that we brought to life in concept films. We also developed a new way to show driver alerts and display hybrid engine power in a more relatable way. The work was presented to Volvo’s design board which includes the CEO and used to influence the next generation of HMI on the XC models.