Turin, 2008's official World Design Capital, played host to the highly successful Interior Motives Europe conference at the Santa Stefano Hotel from the 17 - 19 June. Former Lancia design chief, Michael Robinson gave one of the most impassioned speeches of the event, focusing on the forces shaping the future of automotive design. Among his predictions was the startling claim that, by 2050, cars will be driving themselves.
According to Robinson, who is also the founder of start-up design firm Crossover Creative Consortium, advances in automotive technology will allow OEMs to create cars that are able to drive autonomously. Such innovations will allow for a massively reduced physical safety kit count, translating into lower weight and therefore lower emissions, as well as a reduction in traffic accidents, which usually occur due to human error.
The biggest issue to emerge from the event was the industry's move towards zero-impact cars, with lighter materials, better aerodynamics and fewer elements in vehicles all representing steps towards designing the ultimate ecological vehicle. The majority of car manufacturers are now developing low emission vehicles, as well as continuing research into the integration of sustainable technology into car interiors.
Interior Motives has established its reputation as the leading forum for the automotive design industry, bringing together senior executives from across the world to debate some of the major issues facing the sector. Speakers such as Adriana Monk of Wally Yachts, Dr Manuel Simas of Microsoft, Fiat's Roberto Giolito and GM's Anthony Lo presented to an audience of 100 delegates, representing OEMs, tier 1 suppliers and the automotive design media.
The question and answer sessions between the speakers, chairmen and audience at the conclusion of each of the seven sessions proved as popular as ever and provided ample opportunity for delegates to join in with what proved to be some highly thought-provoking debates. Topics under discussion included the influence that iconic product designs will have on the future of automotive interior design, and the need to avoid preconceptions when designing vehicles for emerging markets.
The conference was supported by some of the most respected names in the automotive design industry, including gold sponsors Alcantara, Kiska and DC Group and silver sponsors Bridge of Weir and PDD.