Polestar is an exciting new name in premium sustainable transport. The Swedish brand was created by the Volvo Group largely to explore the possibilities of design and technology in the age of electric cars. The Precept here is the latest in the family of cars that includes the Polestar 1 and 2. It is also the most significant product in the trio since it sets out visualize Polestar’s objectives in design and sustainability, digital technology and user experience. The company literature refers to the Precept as “a manifesto of things to come; a declaration”.
The Polestar Precept’s technical design language
The Precept design continues the clinical, electronic gadget theme of its siblings with its sharp front headlights and slender wraparound rear light bar. A camera and two radar sensors replace the traditional grille, the rear-view mirrors are digitalized, with a Lidars pod (light detection and ranging) and 3D laser scanners above the windshield offer driver assistance. It is inside though where an exciting design story reveals itself. The Precept cabin is a testbed for imaginative sustainable material use in vehicle design: recycled fabrics feature widely, 3D-knitted plastic bottles, cork and fishing nets surface the seats, headrests and carpets, while lightweight Bcomp flax-based composite materials form the seat-backs.
The exterior shows sharp front headlights and slender wraparound rear light bar
As Polestar reveals these first images of the physical car, I catch up digitally with the Swedish marque’s head of design Maximillian Missoni to understand more about the car and its design language.
Nargess Banks: The Precept, although following a traditional car layout, visually reflects its sustainable power. How do you define progressive design in the context of Polestar?
Maximillian Missoni: At Polestar design we are focusing on technology and sustainability – and more importantly the combination of the two – inspiring us to an entirely new approach to luxury. We are not looking back in history to find references in traditional materials, designs or automotive heritage but rather letting these new influences guide us to a new design language.
Polestar head of design Maximilian Missoni
NB: How far can you push design towards the radical?
MM: I believe that every radical step in design should be triggered by a shift in technology. We have already reached this point in the car industry with electrification, sustainability and infotainment. I believe the next step that could follow is autonomous driving. It is indeed an exciting period to be an automotive designer.
It is inside the Precept where an exciting design story reveals itself
NB: I’m hugely excited by the new wave of sustainable materials you’re exploring with the Precept, especially the Bcomp flax-based composites, for a fresh approach to what defines progressive luxury. Tell me more about your material strategy and how far you’re willing to explore this?
MM: We’re seeing a big shift towards sustainability in the industry and in the world. So, it’s only natural that we have been committed to finding solutions for our brand. In terms of the product we start with the materials, their origin, their production process and their recycling capabilities. We wanted to find a way to give these natural materials such as flax fibers a modern and technical context, but still reveal their natural textures and structures.
The Precept cabin is a testbed for imaginative sustainable material use in vehicle design
NB: There is interesting contrast happening here between these natural, tactile materials and the highly polished and technical advanced aspect of the Precept.
MM: These natural materials create a beautiful contrast with the combination of (technology) systems we are providing in the car, which we consider the new premium. The general task, however, is much broader than that. We have to look into the supply chain, the transport of components and even down to the individual’s behavior in our teams. How much do we travel, how we travel and so on. Sustainability is a challenge for all of us but it’s the right thing to do.
The Precept offers an interesting contrast of high and low tech
NB: What do you look for when hiring designers for your team?
MM: One of the things I’m most proud of in my career is my team. We are extremely international and that is not by design, but by who fits into the team best in terms of taste and personality. Ours is such an intimate, trusting process and if you want to be creative together, it is important that everybody is looking forward to coming into work every morning.
The slender wraparound rear light bar on the Polestar
NB: What inspires you from outside the auto word?
MM: I find my aesthetical inspiration from contemporary art and architecture. It is the purity of the message that excites me the most. I translate that into design by making sure there is clarity in the first read of a product which – bit by bit – reveals its countless stories that are connected to its functionality. Our job as designers is to break highly complex technological objects down into layers for our customers to discover – never too much but always engaging.
The Precept represents the future of Polestar
NB: What are the possibilities for you, a designer working with Polestar, a brand with no history, no baggage to hold it back?
MM: We are in a unique position. We do not have the legacy or the customers who expect a certain behavior from us like many other established brands. In my opinion we have to take bold steps in technology and design to underline our raison d’etre in the industry.
We have a chance to start from a clean sheet of paper in terms of what our products should be and build on our belief that the automotive world will change dramatically. At the same time, we have the production experience and the dealer network that comes from being embedded in the Volvo Group. It allows us to focus on innovation while providing great safety, quality and customer service from the start.