Mention automobile design, and most people think of someone drawing a sketch of the exterior. But the interior must be styled and created as well, and it requires the same level of attention to detail, as well as practicality and comfort, as anything on the outside.
“We do a lot of technical research into innovations,” says Kerstin Schmeding, interior designer for BMW and Mini. “We look at the latest trends in materials, in colour and trim. The car has to be fun and nice, but it also has to be functional.”
As with exterior designs, the interior begins with sketches. These are first done on paper, and then with computer-aided design (CAD). The most promising proposals are then rendered in clay. Although clay models date back to the 1930s, they’re still considered essential, even in the age of computers. “We need clay because it’s a physical car,” Schmeding says. “Once you see it in reality, you see things in the proportion that you don’t recognize in a virtual model. Then you tweak it, and it’s like a dialogue between the digital and clay processes, going back and forth.”