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Ford Designers Find Inspiration for Less Is More Interiors

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 9:48am
Ford Motor Company

Ford Designers Find Inspiration for Less Is More Interiors

  • Ford designers advocate simplicity as the essence of great design
  • Today’s best designers conceive solutions that offer consumers the products and technology they want and love, but with seductive simplicity
  • Ford-exclusive SYNC® offers an example of a “less is more” solution, providing efficient, state-of-the-art technology in an intuitive, engaging package

DEARBORN, Mich., May 17, 2011 – Ford Motor Company designers believe less can be more. Using the Ford SYNC® in-car communications system as an interior design differentiator, the company is moving to reduce manual controls by increasingly replacing them with voice commands.

Part of the solution for today’s automotive designs can be found in insights taken from other industries, says Scott Strong, Ford global director of Interior Design and a participant today at Ward’s Auto Interiors Conference in Dearborn, Mich. Strong advocates providing more with less.

“Modern architects and designers employed this minimalism aesthetic of arranging the numerous components of a building or piece of furniture to create an impression of extreme simplicity,” says Strong. “We’re seeing a renewal of that philosophy but with a 21st-century twist – inspired not by the machine age, but by technological revolution and a virtual world of artificial intelligence led by companies such as Ford.”

Now, Strong says, that philosophy has come to vehicle interiors.

The world at our fingertips
The enhanced in-vehicle connectivity options available today means automotive designers must tread carefully.

Today’s designers have the world at their fingertips, and consumers who want it all – and less, Strong says. People want more comfort, more safety, more connectivity and more functionality. But they also want less cost, less complexity, less anonymity.

Technology and design innovation has provided a steppingstone to change. For instance, the hardware of the six-disc CD changer, at one time a must-have for audiophiles, no longer takes up space in the interior or trunk, and yet Ford has found more ways to bring music into the cabin, including via USB, SD card, Bluetooth streaming audio and satellite radio – all of which can be accessed by voice command.

Navigation hard drives are also a thing of the past in Ford vehicles. Using the simple SD card to store navigation data rather than a hard drive installed in the dash, Ford has been able to convert that space into practical storage while again giving consumers voice command for directions and other travel information.

“Think of the smartphone and its extreme functionality,” Strong said. “Its individual components could fill a library, yet this compact little gem is a perfect example of the 21st-century philosophy of less is more.

“The technology attracts you – it doesn’t overwhelm,” he explained. “That’s how we are designing future interiors around SYNC.”

SYNC, launched in the fall of 2007, has since been installed on more than 3 million cars, trucks and crossovers and the available features continue to increase, from 911 Assist™ to Vehicle Health Report to AppLink.

“We’ve added features to SYNC that people want,” Strong said. “You have the power of voice commands, you have the power of all these apps, and they’re all packaged in a little software chip that resides behind a clean, efficient touch screen interface in our vehicles.”

Designer challenge
Strong says that ultimately the challenge for 21st-century automotive interior designers is to envision their customers within the context of a new, rapidly emerging world, and then to determine and deliver what is meaningful to them.

“The intent behind less is more is simply about getting to the essence of what is really important, and then expressing it with seductive simplicity,” Strong said. “It’s about quality of life – about achieving more with less.”

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

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