Stahl on Automotive Interior Design in the Age of Autonomous Cars

carolinehartmann
Contributor: Caroline Hartmann
Posted: 05/14/2018

Following the interview covering Stahl on Automotive Design Trends of the Future, Automotive IQ once again met with Caroline Hartmann, Fashion Team Designer of Automotive at Stahl, this time to discuss Stahl’s participation in the Rinspeed Snap concept car project.

Caroline, Stahl recently showcased the Rinspeed Snap concept car together with its interior group partners at the Milan Design Week and you were there too. Could you take us through the experience you had at the event and some of the key takeaways?

We had the pleasure to have a showroom in the Superstudio Piu in the Zona Tortona in Milan for the first time. It all started with Stahl sponsoring the Donna e Mobile event, an event for automotive designers that takes place every year during the Milan Design Week. During the Donna e Mobile event, the idea was born to introduce the Rinspeed Snap concept car to the people visiting Milan Design Week. Many visitors have connected with Stahl by experiencing the car of the future in our inspirational, futuristic booth. This year the Snap concept addressed the new demands that come with megatrends such as autonomous driving. Our presence has been very successful. By attending the Milan Design Week we were able to inspire the audience, and it was a good networking opportunity as well. 

Autonomous cars and mobility certainly are some of the mega trends within automotive, which role does Stahl play in the automotive market as these trends continue to move forward and progresses?

As a car interior surfaces expert, partnerships are very important for us which is why we are very happy to be part of the Rinspeed Snap Interior Development Team. It was very interesting to share knowledge with different material suppliers and to develop the best technologies and solutions for this interior together. We have been enjoying cooperating on the creation of all the different materials like textile, leather and synthetics. These partnerships also keep discussions going about the needs for new mobility. 

Besides these partnerships we are investing heavily in the development of new sustainable technologies. Stahl unceasingly works together with partners to be on top of the game. We incorporate these new technologies into our collections to share with our customers. We prepare appealing leather and synthetic trend collections every year.

Which role will the interior of a car have as we face fully autonomous systems, and what is Stahl’s vision for this trend? 

In the new mobility world the car interior will develop into a “third living space”. As the time we spend in our car increases, attention to details become more and more important. The “Snap” has a two-piece structure comprising a “skateboard” chassis and a passenger cell “pod”. The pod can be “snapped” on and off for updates – or to be used as a fully-connected stationary cabin, camping hut, workspace or for example a shelter for an outdoors coffee shop. The Snap interior we developed looks like a comfortable meeting room. A place where you feel at home. An interior where all materials and colors are in perfect harmony, luxurious yet practical. 

Stahl focuses highly on sustainability in their solutions. What were some of the noticeable sustainability projects initiated by Stahl in 2017, and what can we expect in 2018?

I would like to highlight Proviera® - Probiotics for Leather™. With the use of Proviera® - Probiotics for Leather™ in the early beamhouse stage of the leather process, the amount of traditional chemicals to clean and prepare hides for tanning is reduced significantly. Biobased polyurethanes for coatings is another example. Both are based on renewable resources and represent lower environmental impact for the user. For an overview of sustainable solutions I would like to invite you to take a look at our 2017 Sustainability report

Stahl also strives for eco-friendly interiors in their portfolio. Can you mention some of the VOC-free solutions Stahl works with?

Stahl has been a pioneer in water-based solutions for automotive coatings for many years; we introduced water-based polyurethanes to the automotive market in the 1970s and 1980s. These products, although already free of organic solvents in most cases, still had some volatile content. Now our research has evolved to the point where completely VOC-free products can be conceived and these are being introduced into the market already.

With the high focus on sustainability and eco-friendly solutions, partnering up with the correct organizations seems to be a must?

Absolutely. In fact this is an important element of our corporate strategy: creating initiatives that promote transparency throughout the supply chain. This can only be done via strong partnerships, but it’s much more than focusing on eco-friendly solutions. It also means being a member of the ZDHC foundation in order to work together on eliminating restricted substances from the supply chain and in the Leather Working Group to ensure good practices are applied throughout the leather industry. It means teaming up with international NGO’s like UNIDO, PUM Netherlands senior experts and Solidaridad to reduce pollution levels in effluent streams or working alongside the University of Northampton to provide certified training qualifications to graduate students in the industry. By promoting transparency in this way, Stahl is convinced that better decisions about sustainability can be made and the whole supply chain will benefit.

For any business enquiries, who should be contacted in your company?

Stefan Buri, Global Director Marketing Automotive | Phone +49 172 585 93 02 | Email stefan.buri@stahl.com

carolinehartmann
Contributor: Caroline Hartmann
Posted: 05/14/2018

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