What is the link between a Swedish train, a BMW concept car and a fabric firm from Denmark?
A chance encounter via my day job led me to to discover the link between the Danish fabric firm Kvadrat and the Bavarian automobile manufacturer, BMW. To my knowledge the two collaborations have not led to Kvadrat supplying fabrics for the production cars. It´s not that it´s not possible. The same firm has supplied material for a Swedish train and if a fabric and survive public transport it can survive life in a car.
The first item here was shown at the Milan International Furniture Show. The resultant design is definitely at the art end of the spectrum, with conical volumes emanating from the car´s apertures like light turned into fabric. The material was designed by Giulo Ridolfo and the arrangement by Patricia Urquiola of Kvadrat. I am not sure who has gained most from this. Quite likely BMW owners are sitting on Kvadrat fabrics in their houses and, more than likely, Kvadrat customers will be in the market for the kind of car BMW is selling.
In 2009 , Kvadrat provided the fabric for the BMW Efficient Dynamics concept car. The fabric has a texture that contrasts with the smoothness of the rest of the forms. It´s hard to believe this is from 2009. As a side note, the images here are much clearer and readable than the print images I have seen where the high contrasts and deep shades make the forms flat and hard to read. I am afraid the print media undersold this interior and the fabric´s quality was entirely lost.
Here (above) is the fabric and interior design of the 2009 Arlanda Express train in Sweden. If you are trying to get from Stockholm Central to Arlanda airport this the way to go (which might not please BMW). The comparison with the Danish rail´s (DSB) latest interiors is startling. DSB went with unrelieved cool colours which, on a dark and cold morning can lead to very depressing feelings. I wish more trains had these sorts of designs.This interior shows how you can use warm tones without making the interior garish. A few orange lamps lift the feeling of the whole space while the underlying forms are simple and easy on the eye. If you can´t decorate, use colour and fabric.
All of this is evidence for me that colour and fabric can have a really powerful impact on how one perceives an interior and thus a whole vehicle. I reckon that if car firms want to lure more customers to their models they need to be a lot more creative with their fabrics than they now are; while a good fabric costs more than a mediocre leather, the advantage of making a sale would justify the extra cost, perhaps more so than spending big on hard trim or certain marginal features that are only there because a spread sheet engineer decreed they should be.