“Like an arrow”. This is how SEAT Design director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos summarizes the sense of speed and dynamism he wanted to convey when creating the 20V20 show car. Sitting on a beach terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, sketchbook and pencil in hand, he traces the first broad strokes. This is how we witness the birth of an idea, the notion of what will become one of the most highly anticipated concept cars, the one that will shape the future of the company.
Then we take an intense journey into the development of this model and realize the beehive of activity that goes into it. It takes a swarm of professionals, each one in their field of expertise, to meticulously handcraft the ultimate expression of car design into a work of art.
Close to 15 people dedicate five months to working almost exclusively on “creating a car from scratch”, says Ángel Lahoz, the engineer who is responsible for the 20V20 show car, who points out that one of the most particular qualities of a car with these characteristics is that every single piece of it is “unique” and painstakingly handcrafted.
Day after day, Mesonero-Romanos scrutinizes every detail and supervises each element. He carefully considers the front end, sweeping lateral lines and striking, triangular rear light clusters, and is satisfied that his creation “looks well-groomed, but is evocative of high performance”. Another element the designers manipulated is tension, and SEAT’s Design director uses a sports metaphor to illustrate this: “We wanted to capture the coiled tension of an athlete in the starting blocks and convey a moment of maximum physical and mental alertness”.
Barcelona is “our home and our inspiration”, adds Mesonero-Romanos. In fact, the SEAT Design Center in Martorell is the epicenter of the company’s design activity, and spreads out to include several locations in nearby Barcelona, especially where the Mediterranean Sea is the backdrop. Members of the Color&Trim design team make frequent trips to the city to get ideas for colors and surface finishes.
The light of Barcelona is a great source of design inspiration to the company, especially when defining colors. Jordi Font, who is the head of Color&Trim at SEAT, maintains that “the dynamism of our city reflects our mood”. In order to create the “Ultra Orange” of the 20V20, we used innovative pigments to design a captivating orange shade that mirrors “the special moment of sunlight over the Mediterranean at dawn”, adds Font.
He and his team came up with 96 different paint formulations before making the final selection for the exterior color, which ultimately defines the character of the car and heavily influences the interior colors and trim. The desired overall effect is a harmonious balance between color shades and interior finishes.
Meanwhile, head of Interior Design Jaume Sala maintains that the entire inside of the vehicle has been created with open space in mind, without any dividing elements, “giving a loft effect, but retaining its personality and driver-focused layout for greater driving pleasure”. The well-appointed dimensions include use of “top quality innovative materials, attention to detail in every element and groundbreaking communication and interaction technologies”, he adds.
“The most satisfying aspect of my job is that I get to follow the process of creating the car at every stage, and pay close attention to every detail”, points out Lahoz. “First you see it on paper, then as a virtual mockup, and when it finally takes shape is the moment of greatest satisfaction“, he concludes. It is really amazing to find out what goes on behind the scenes that takes an initial sketch drawn by the seashore all the way to a show car, a model that is unique in the world.
Designing a prototype is quite different from engineering a production car. The designers have a lot of freedom and can freely express their art. However, a lot of frustration appears when the engineers bring their constraints into the process. What do you think is the way of working and collaborating between the stylists and the engineers when designing a show car? And when designing a production car?