Volvo Concept Universe: Blending Scandinavian Design and Chinese Philosophy

Today, April 19, at the Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo Cars unveiled its Volvo Concept Universe, the first concept since Volvo was acquired by Chinese automaker Geely. This is a luxury segment car that bears the dual cultural identity of its creators: on the one hand, it features Scandinavian luxury and approach to design, on the other hand, it is largely inspired by Chinese philosophy, as the designers were tasked with creating a car «with the depth of the universe and just as welcoming as the sun rising over a calm ocean.»

This is a fresh and unexpected answer of Volvo design team to the question ‘What is a beautiful car?’. Speaking of its exterior looks, that is to say it is based on sculpture rather than mere graphics. Obviously, in the process of concept creation, the designers were playing with sculptural shapes and light, which has resulted in creation of an utterly new design direction for Volvo Cars.

At the same time, the concept traces its roots to Volvo design tradition as its round and sleek shapes are inspired by Volvo Amazon and Volvo PV 444.

Jonathan Disley, Strategic Design Manager Advanced, at Volvo Cars tells the secret of how Volvo Concept Universe was born, «When we set out to create this concept, one of the first things I told the designers was not to draw cars for a week. With a pencil, one automatically draws hard lines, and that’s not what we wanted here. Instead I asked them to design sculptures. That way, we brought fluidity and a sculptural gracefulness to the Concept Universe. We reduced the number of lines, and took away all visual noise, to make it as simple and elegant as possible. Without the edges, all lines are infinite, marking distinctive inspiration from Scandinavian furniture design as well as Chinese writing. The Concept Universe is entirely built by hand and took a strenuous 8000 hours to finish.”

This luxurious car is created for a modern day businessman, who is sophisticated and elegant, a man with the refined taste and attention to detail. That’s why, as you open the door, you will see its interior is inspired by a luxurious business suit, made of natural materials: seats covered in aniline leather, backrests made from first-class wool. Interestingly, the centre stack and panels are made in walnut and feature fine details in hand-painted china, which is another link between the unity of Swedish and Chinese cultures in a single car.

If visual design of the car originates from cultural and brand traditions, the inside techological base of Volvo Concept Universe is all about innovation. The driver’s in-command environment is very intuitive and features display that approaches your hand as you reach toward it. The full-color 3D head-up display provides data pertaining to the speed, and other navigation characteristics directly on the windshield. So, there is no need to get distracted in case you need to take a look at the speedometer.

To see more of Volvo Concept Universe graphics, please visit Volvo Designer Blog.