Thomas Lienhart: Expert for autonomous and electric interior design joins inktank.academy

Design Schools 27 Nov 2019


With Thomas Lienhart, an Interior Designer with a special background on autonomous and EV interior, joined inktank.academy. By designing the interior for the Volvo 360c, part of the Polestar 1 design team and the Volvo S90 Ambiance Concept, he has already distinguished himself as an expert for the mobility of tomorrow.

Volvo 360c: a fully autonomous, fully electric concept

In September 2018, Volvo presented the 360c Concept, its first concept study on future mobility. The fully autonomous, fully electric vehicle is designed to offer an alternative to rail and jet on medium distances of up to 400 kilometers. But what do you do with all the room, when the car drives on its own?

Theme development of the interior for Volvo 360c by Thomas Lienhart

Theme development of the interior for Volvo 360c by Thomas Lienhart

Since the answer is manifold, the 360c shows up with four different interiors. “The idea was to describe a complete day with an autonomous car: Commuting and relaxing in the morning, working during the day, partying in the evening and sleeping at night”, Thomas Lienhart explains. He is responsible for three of the four interior designs.

Lienhart states: “We wanted to have a feeling of being in a living room, being at home while you go to work.” That’s why the main interior focus is on the relax mode. The possibilities for each modus are smartly accommodated. For example, the windows serve as a display and the table as a touch screen. With its sleep function, washbasin and alarm clock, the 360c even replaces the hotel room.

Lienhart designed three interiors for the Volvo

Lienhart designed three interiors for the Volvo 360c

Overall, the 360c makes traveling much more attractive than going by airplane. You don’t have to catch a flight early in the morning. You can spend the time-traveling useful, relax, interact or even sleep. “It has been more or less the same for many decades. But now, it is the first time when we don’t have to face the road while driving.“ So according to Lienhart, and as the 360c shows, autonomous driving is a great opportunity to rethink interior design.

New experiences: Volvo S90 and Polestar 1

Lienhart has previously proven that he can create a personal atmosphere with the Volvo S90 Ambiance Concept. Designed as a chauffeur limousine, the ambiance provides seven visual themes and thus coordinated sounds and scents. The concept focuses entirely on the passenger and provides a contrast to the hectic pace of the cities.

The luxury interior of the Volvo S90 designed by Thomas Lienhart

The luxury interior of the Volvo S90, designed by Thomas Lienhart

With the Polestar 1 hybrid coupé, Lienhart has proven that he can not only design for the future, but also for today. The interior is perfectly suited to a sports coupé: Pureness provides the luxury feeling and loving details provide the sporty look. The discreetly recurring yellow in straps and design lines, the embossing “since 1959” on the strap buckle and the projection of the Polestar logo on the glass of the panorama roof refer to a well-thought-out concept. “We worked on the headlining with the mindset of creating something that hasn’t been done before”, Lienhart explains, why he came up with the airplane shape. He also emphasizes the electric power cables in the trunk. “I like how different brands try to push the design forward to show that the car is electric. It goes through little details.” The Polestar 1 was the first car of this new brand. To Lienhart, it was something special to be part of the design team, working on the very first product. “That made me learn how to be a designer, I would say.”

Sketches for the Polestar 1 interior by Thomas Lienhart

Sketches for the Polestar 1 interior by Thomas Lienhart

Defining a brand’s DNA: Lynk & Co.

After two and a half years working for Volvo, Lienhart moved to its sister company Lynk & Co. Today he likes to remember his first job after his studies: “Volvo was a great experience. Extremely good brand to start your career.” Lynk & Co is a completely new experience for him. The difference: “At brands like Volvo, there is a heritage, so you can create your design based on all the classic cars.” Lynk & Co, on the other hand, is only three years old and still a start-up. It is still working on finding the language that defines this new brand. Lienhart sees an advantage in this, however: “You start from nothing and create a design. It’s challenging but there are a lot of opportunities. It’s a very interesting challenge.”

Thomas Lienharts is working for Lynk and Co

Thomas Lienharts is working for Lynk & Co

Sharing experience: inktank.academy

Thomas Lienhart now makes this bundle of experience available to the members of inktank.academy. With his knowledge, we can offer two completely new course series: one about electric interior and one about autonomous interior. Both pose their own challenges to design. The courses focus on the changed conditions, but above all on the new possibilities offered by such future mobility concepts.

Interior Design Sketches by Thomas Lienharts

inktank.academy offer the courses of Thomas Lienhart for the members of their e-learning platform www.inktank.academy. There you can learn car design from a whole range of professional car designers.

If you subscribe until 31st December you can make use of a Christmas Special: for three months you will get a discount of 33% per month for basic and premium membership.

(Image Courtesy: inktank.academy for Car Body Design)

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