Car design depends on teamwork, in sharp contrast to the social distancing the coronavirus pandemic has imposed. How does smart working change creative activity? What consequences will it have on the form of tomorrow’s cars? Auto&Design has asked these questions of carmaker design chiefs and independent style centres, starting with Robin Page, Volvo’s Senior Vice President Design.

How have you organised your work during this period of lockdown?

The style centre team hasn’t stopped working at all – in fact, we’re all in our own homes and using the company’s work tools, such as computers and drawing boards. There is no lack of comparison: we see each other several times a day in video using Microsoft Teams. Obviously digital work has increased a lot, but this is positive because it trains us for a future that goes in that direction and thanks to video conferences we can share, comment and compare results. In Volvo the exchange of opinions between people remains a main point.

Do you think this way of working will influence the products of the future?

At Volvo we have long been used to designing and producing drawings digitally and this is a great advantage, especially in situations like this. The guys on the design team work most of the time with digital tools even during normal periods, but this experience will certainly have an impact on all of us not necessarily negatively. In fact we will learn that often working from home is a good solution and can be even faster and in some cases easier. That is why we will continue to work digitally more and more in the future.

Do you think creativity can suffer from a lack of inspiration from the outside?

On the one hand, human contact and the external environment are certainly essential to develop a complete creative education. As for the first aspect, we try as much as possible to keep it alive with video calls. Inspiration, on the other hand, is often born today by looking at images. And on this I believe that the internet is an inexhaustible source of different materials. So I don’t think that creativity will be totally affected by the coronavirus, at least not the one of my team. Unfortunately, however, for an indefinite period of time, we won’t be able to travel, attend the various architecture, furniture and car shows. Now everything is delegated to images.