Motoring Insight Magazine Online Subscribe About Us Contact Us Motoring Insight Home Finance Reviews Under The Hood Motorsport Business Profiles Archive Jobs I am looking for in Get your business listed Related Tags: ernst reim, ernst reim car designer, ford of europe, ford interior design INTERVIEW: Ernst Reim, Chief Interior Designer for Ford of Europe reveals how future looks more 'premium' By: Danny Hewitt Ref:A0707 Published: 7 October 2013

He's overseen the interior designs of the latest Fiesta, Mondeo, Focus, B-Max and C-Max. Ernst Reim is the Chief Interior Designer for Ford of Europe - the company behind some Britain's best-selling car, a global automotive brand with an exciting vision of the future. 

Ernst Reim shares his views on the future of interior car design with Motortrades Insight. 

What is the most challenging aspect of designing new cars suitable for the production line?

As the consumer electronic market has a big influence now on the automotive market, the complete HMI (Human Machine Interface) systems are changing completely, so we automatically expect that what the customer has at home is a device – an iPhone – that he wants to see in the car and he wants to use in the car in a way that allows him to be flexible with his own device in the car.

Now, the big challenge is: how we can bring this step into the automotive business? In general, there is a lot of what is very positive so by getting these new technologies and the components, it means we have the chance to get more space and a more roominess feel into the interior. 

How important is the emotional aspect of designing for a designer? And to what extent does emotion affect the design of the car?

It’s a very new car where we are able to design it. It’s a new challenge. Coming in total with the design development process, it gives you a lot of emotion during the development.

Take a steering wheel, there’s a new way in how you grab it, how you adjust all these components on the steering wheel and the functions you want to integrate on the steering wheel. This family connection with what the steering wheel has is also needed in the centre stick area where you also have the other components, so you always have to find a formula which is connected to all these elements and bring them into the interior. 

In the past, we said the architecture itself should be very expressive. The customer was more linked to this expressive main architecture and the details didn’t get that much focus. 

Now, with these new technologies, we said ‘okay, what is the next step of what do we want to achieve?’

As you can see from the new cars, we are trying to get the main architecture a little bit more quiet so it’s very expressive and has some nice contours. 

But then, the eye is focussed on the detail or the detailed elements because the detailed elements are automatically connected to technology.

When you look at the Samsung, this latest generation of consumer electronics, you always see that they use premium materials with the latest technology. This is the same as what we are doing now in the interiors of the cars. When you look at the centre stick now, there is a very nice finish on this area. 

And then you have premium details and this, together with the technology, is giving a really premium feel. 

How do safety regulations affect how creative you can be as a designer?

There are positive and negative consequences. The positive aspects are that there are all the airbag solutions coming on the market. They are cheaper. They are not that expensive anymore so we can bring them into a lot of areas in the car. 

This automatically means, for example, take the passenger side – when you look at the passenger side, there is a lot of volume in front of you and still you are not using a lot of space or the storage is not that much in front of you. 

So now, with new technology in the airbag system, we are able to shrink the volume and storage on top because the new airbag system allows us to create new volumes in the whole architecture. The same, for sure, for safety with the seats, we are able to get a better room experience using this new technology and these airbags. 

Where do you feel you can make improvements to the design of car interiors?

With this new HMI (Human Machine Interface) component, we are able to work closer with suppliers who are able to deliver better materials for the interior and go in a far more premium direction with the complete interior scenarios. 

We are able to deliver something absolutely unique. And when you think about an upper middle class car, with this experience, you can lift it up into an absolute high region of premium. 

What pressures and challenges are you facing as a designer over the next few years? And is fashion playing a greater role in influencing Ford’s designs?

Oh yeah, this is a big influence. Normally, designers are linked to architecture and industrial design, but now the fashion industry is also having a big influence so there are the trendy colours and we also have the fabrics. 

Generally, new technology for fabrics is coming in. We can tweak them in a completely historic way so that there are different fabrics and leathers on top. We really can experiment with new materials and create completely new scenarios so it is completely open now. 

For every young designer, he can express himself by throwing everything into the development of a built or un-built truck. 

Do you feel synthetic leather is an environmentally friendly alternative to real leather?

No, no. I think you always have to have a good compromise. There are big differences in the quality of leather itself. There are different suppliers. I don’t want to mention names. But there are big differences in the real leather quality and with some vinyl suppliers, they are delivering some vinyl textures and new fabrics in a way that you think, ‘even experts will not believe that this is vinyl’. 

So the pressure for us now is ‘in what areas do we want to place it?’ 

For example, the areas where you touch, where you sit and where you grab. On the steering wheel, you definitely want real quality leather. It’s a premium feel and it will always be. So you’ll never have vinyl leather in these areas but in the deck of the seat, for example, where you don’t have this contact with the material, I think there’s some compromise possible. Sometimes. 

So there’s always the progression of why do you want to use it. But in total, there’s nothing better than the real leather quality with a good supplier. 

Do you think that’s the future for Ford? Going the premium route to appeal to customers?

Yes, definitely. We are really working with suppliers to try to get the best quality inside our cars. 

What specifically in relation to architecture tends to inspire you?

When you look at architecture, the way surfaces have this warm and soft execution and also the heart breaks sometimes, this is inspiring us. The main good architecture direction is always in our head but then also simple new little things. A little bridge can inspire us. Or bionic things. When you think what’s going on in bionics, what we can learn from animals or the general structure of a simple leaf, this is giving us a lot of inspiration. 

There’s always something that can inspire you. Furniture is the second big thing – furniture and industrial design products. 

Personally, I get my inspiration from the architecture and the consumer electronic market. Simple things like the iPhone can inspire a lot because it’s a simple black surface, all gloss and it’s got a nice chrome metal frame around it. 

When you think about what premium-ness it supports to your eye, you can treat it in a different way and go for black high-gloss surfaces and then you add some jewellery element on this high-gloss surface to add contrast, giving you a premium effect. This, together with the technology and the screen that’s got a shiny look, is giving you a real feel of the next step into the future. 

So all the consumer electronic products are, for me, an inspiration – including the general architecture in furniture design. 

How important is it to have a team of designers with differing opinions from a wide range of cultures? To be able to question ideas and put other alternative ideas forward?  

This is the most important thing because we are a global company and we need to have the global input from designers. When you have a look at my team here, there are people from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. You can give all of them the same task and you’ll get completely different designs. 

Volvo and Google are really pushing forward with autonomous driving technology and want it on our roads. Do you feel it could take away the fun aspect of driving?

There will always be the niche segment. So the trend, for sure, is going more towards the autonomous automotive direction. But until it is legal, I think it will take another 20 years and then there will be still the chance that you can drive the car yourself. 

The driving will be safer and safer with this technology but there will be the chance still that you can drive the car yourself and then there will be the niche car – the cars that are specially built to go off-road or on the race track. 

So this ‘driving experience’ will always stay because this is in the human... this belongs to the human. 

To what extent would you say car design has become more like graphic design?

Graphic design is getting more and more important. So when you look at the side of the screens, for example, what you have and the general layout on the instrument panel, the general layout and architecture is linked to graphic design. 

But then, when you look at the details and the graphic design of the layout on the screen, you will see that on a ten-inch screen that is in front of you, there is so much going on and you have to have the correct readability and the correct usability. 

It means that when you are driving the car at 200 km/hr, you have to have a good graphic on the screen that when you look at for one second, you have to understand what is going on so that you can adjust anything as needed in the car.

Graphic design is really of high importance. 

How do manufacturing constraints affect your creativity as a designer?

This is the biggest fight for every designer because every designer is exploding with ideas so there are always ten times more ideas than you can get into one car. So how can you shrink it down and how can you make it feasible? This is the biggest question. 

The feasibility loops are the biggest challenges for the designer because this is dictating how the surface has to develop. The usability in the car is a big thing. All this is a big story for safety and sometimes we really have to adjust the whole architecture again so that the requirements can be fulfilled. 

Let’s say it’s the hardest bit of the designer’s part to get a great idea into production – the feasibility process. 

And what specific models have you worked on yourself?

The Focus, Fiesta, Mondeo and all the B cars have been developed under my eyes. I’m only as good as my team. Together with the team, we developed these cars and I think we can be proud of that, so I think we should continue like this and I’m always hoping that new talent is coming in front of my door to create the next generation of cars.

Comments  Sign in or Register to leave a comment Related Articles // More Like This dummyFord Edge Concept revealed with futuristic interior and technology at Los Angeles Motor Show Ford has revealed the all-new Ford Edge Concept to give a strong indication of the technology, design and craftsmanship direction of the company’s new large SUV for Europe.The Edge Concept also show 12     « Previous ArticleNext Article » Subscribe to MotorTrades insight As featured on NewsNow: Motoring news News 24/7 MotorTrades Insight are now official news providers for NewsNow. Top Stories // This Week Show Stories For: > ---2014--- February January ---2013--- December November October September August July June May April March February January maserati-show-off-largest-ever-collection-of-cars-at-goodwood-festival-of-speedMaserati show off largest ever collection of cars at Goodwood Festival of Speed.  Maserati showcased its largest ever collection of cars at Goodwood Festival of Speed over the weekend as part of the Italian brand’s 100 year celebrations.Maserati took over the Stable Yard at the G... new-five-door-mini-rolls-off-production-line-in-oxfordNew five-door Mini rolls off production line in Oxford.  Mini's plant in Oxford saw the production of the first new MINI five-door Hatch earlier this week.The new five-door is a first for Mini production at the Oxford plant and marks another phase in the ...  Company Info // Get in Touch © Motoring Insight Limited 2012 - 2014 Tel: 0844 818 0473 Email: Motortrades Insight Limited trading as Registered Address The Coach House Baddow Park West Hanningfield CM2 7SY Company Reg: 07302221 VAT No: 120173663 Links // On The Web >> >> Subscribe to Mailing List >> Advertise on Motoring Insight >> Motorsport News >> >> Motoring Industry News >> Blog >> Used Car Buyers Guide >> Link To Us >> Ratecard >> Privacy Policy >> Terms and Conditions >> Disclaimer Twitter // Follow Us Cookies on Motortrades Insight

Like many popular websites, Motortrades Insight uses some third party widgets that may set and may have already set cookies, for example the Twitter feed on our homepage. For more information see our cookie policy. By clicking close and continue you agree to our use of cookies.