Ahead of his presentation on Day 1 of Automotive Interiors Expo Europe (December 5, 6 & 7) in Stuttgart, Germany, Steve Crijns, senior design manager at McLaren Automotive, reveals more about the auto maker’s interior design philosophy.
What will your presentation be about?
I will be speaking on McLaren’s interior design philosophy. McLaren supercars are known for their engaging driving experience. But what makes a car engaging to drive, and how can design help with this? How do we make the driver feel one with the machine? My presentation will also expand on the unique challenges that come with designing a McLaren interior, such as the specific ergonomics requirements for driving at high speed on a track. The talk will then conclude with insight into the future challenges for supercars with regards to electrification and legislation, but also the future opportunities that autonomous driving and augmented reality can offer to make McLarens even more engaging.
Would you say McLaren views interior design as form following function or function following form?
We prefer to say at McLaren that form and function are interwoven rather than form following function.
McLaren says “the cockpit of a McLaren is an incredible place to be. Because every last element of our interior design is developed with one person in mind – the driver”. What is the importance of ergonomics to McLaren’s interior design vision?
Ergonomics are top priority: from ingress and egress to driving position, seats, steering wheel and HMI. For a car that is driven at high speed, ergonomics must be optimized at all levels.
What makes a car engaging to drive and how can design help with this?
As a driver you want to feel at one with the machine. The interior is where the driver can truly experience the car and engage with it. Interior design plays an important role here to maximize the connection between the driver and the car. There will be more of that in my talk.
What makes designing a McLaren interior challenging?
The limited available space is usually quite challenging: McLarens must be compact to be lightweight, agile and aerodynamic.
What specific ergonomics are required for driving at high speed on the track?
At high speed only so much information can be processed. So a reduction of information and inputs is required to make sure the driver is totally focused on the driving with the minimum distraction. The HMI must be effortless.
What challenges have electrification and legislation provided for supercars?
Electrification for supercars is challenging because the excitement from changing the gears and the associated noise from the engine is lost. There will be a need to compensate for this loss with other attributes that make an electric supercar equally as exciting to drive as an ICE powered supercar.
What opportunities do autonomous driving and augmented reality present to make McLarens more engaging?
Lots of opportunities here! There will be more of that in my talk.
McLaren says “How can you break new ground if you never dare to look beyond what’s around you?” What has inspired you that goes beyond the norm?
Exciting innovative show cars always inspire me. And at McLaren, because of the appetite for exciting design and innovation, it is possible to design a car like a show car but not just for show – a car that will go in production.
The McLaren Speedtail is described as a “pure fusion of science and art in automotive form”. What levels of innovation and elegance did you incorporate in its interiors?
We are always looking for innovative ergonomics concepts, innovative lightweight designs and for new technologies and materials that open up personalization opportunities such as digital craftsmanship.
What are you hoping audiences will take away from your presentation?
That McLarens aren’t just about the numbers, about the top speed, acceleration and lap times, but that also a lot of effort goes into the interior design.
Who are you hoping to meet in Stuttgart?
Some exciting new suppliers with clever ideas!
Hear from Steve Crijns in the morning session at the Messe Stuttgart on Day 1 of Automotive Interiors Expo Europe 2023 on Tuesday, December 5, at 12:30pm-12:50pm
Steve joined McLaren in 2014 and was responsible for the interior design of the 720S. He was the lead designer on the McLaren Speedtail. Before joining McLaren he was at Lotus Cars for 20 years, where he was responsible for the minimalist interiors on the Lotus Elise and Opel Speedster. He mixed interior with exterior design and was also responsible for the exterior designs of the Evora, Elise mk2, Exige mk2 and Exige mk3 V6. Steve had a background in product design and ergonomics before gaining a master’s degree in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art in London.