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Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Thu 24th March 2016

In late 2015 Keith Adams of Modern Classic interviewed Steve Harper in his Studio about this past...

S80 Theme sketches 2000.04 (image courtesy of Volvo Cars)

Strategic Design Studio

Having recently completed the design for the Science Fiction theme restaurant MARS 2112, long-time associates, Peter Horbury and Jose de la Vega, felt that this was an interesting departure from the conventional, to offer Steve Harper a 3 month contract session in the Volvo Design Strategic Studio. This in fact was to last over 8,5 years in total.

At that time in early 2000, planning for the Y286 generation of S80 and V70, was amongst other programmes developed for new sedans, estates and Cross Country vehicles.

Although at the end of 2000, Steve was offered the position as Chief Designer for the Current Model programmes, he was to develop the Strategic planning process to include all of the vehicles in his charge.

For many years, different project leaders had developed new vehicles with inconsistent content. The headlamps on one car had black bezels for the most expensive version, and on another car, that signified the low line lamp. This was confusing for sales teams and customers alike.

Furthermore the Current Cars team at the time, mostly consisted of the more ‘mature’ designers, and was located way down in the cellar of the Design Studio. Under Steve’s guidance, a blend of the newer young designers were brought in to be mentored by the experienced designers, and so gradually the department grew to be more and more successful.

Even the model year changes were now used to develop Strategic design elements, and help to define a process later to be called, Volvo’s own ‘Scandinavian Design’.