Coming up with the perfect car design isn’t easy – you just have to jump in and get started! We hear the story behind the design process of Lynk & Co’s first car, the 01, and the adventure of designing cars for a new brand.
Behind the success of Lynk & Co’s first car, the 01, lies years of hard work, adventure and cooperation. We spoke with Simon Lamarre, Vice President of Exterior Design at Geely Design Sweden, who spoke to us about what it takes to design an iconic first model that can pave the way for the cars that will follow.
“It is like jumping off a five-meter platform,” says Simon. “In the beginning it is scary and you hesitate. But then you take the first step and things start to happen. You jump, you fall, you hit the water and then you swim. Innovation is about taking a concept and putting it with another and seeing what happens. It is a lot about playing around with ideas. Trial and error. That is the base of our work, trying and failing until you find that combo that works.”
Simon was one of a handful of people that came on board the Geely Design Sweden team from the start with nothing but a blank sheet of paper. He talks about the sense of adventure in the team: “We were all thrown into this situation where we had to create something. That was exciting. There was a special feeling and atmosphere, and we were such a small team creating something together. It was a very organic process; we didn’t really know where this was all going in the beginning before we started to structure our thoughts and put some rationale into it. It was sense of adventure that was tremendous,” he says.
Simon has been in the business for over 20 years and is still fascinated how these things happen, how you go from loose, “funky” ideas to something more mature; how ideas are reworked and replaced with new ones. The hardest thing, he says, is knowing when to stop designing. So how do you know? According to Simon, timing is important – everything has a deadline, but you have to listen to your gut feeling and combine it with your experiences. You have to know when it is good enough; not simply OK, but excellent. This may mean you should keep some of the good ideas you have left on your desk and use them on a future project – you have to stop at just the right time, otherwise there is a risk you may “overcook” it.
“We had one moment in China. The 01 was basically the mixture of two cars. We put those two cars together and looked at that result and realized that we really had something fantastic here. It was about creating a car that has personality which you will see in a busy street of any big city in the world. It is about having self-confidence, of good sense of design obviously, but also that sense of protection that you need in this big chaotic world. It is like your suit of armour in an urban lifestyle, like your quiet spot in the hectic traffic in New York, Shanghai or similar cities,” Simon says.
He goes on to discuss the China launch of the Lynk & Co 01: “The launch felt great! The positive response was confirmation of our conviction and that our basic ideas had been well received. We are doing the right things. The whole team should be really proud. We are not trying to please everybody but somehow we seem to have really good results with that.”
The biggest challenges are, according to Simon, time constraints. It is important to constantly revise plans and look at how things are being done, and be more effective. He explains: “That is the hardest part. People are normally afraid of change, they like stability. But here we constantly need to reinvent ourselves to be able to meet our new challenges. If you can’t be flexible and if you can’t do things differently you won’t be happy in our working environment, but if you like a challenge and to work differently you will.
“Sometimes we think that the tasks are impossible but it is rather a question of wanting to do it and getting it done somehow. It is a mindset – don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solution. Now we have a team, a facility and a form language, but we still need to push on our form language to make that evolve as well as our working processes, since we keep getting more to do. This is the longest rollercoaster ride of my life, and I like rollercoasters”, Simon concludes.
The Lynk & Co brand has released 01, 02, 03, 05 and 06 models in the China market and has sold over 300,000 cars to date. At the end of this month, the brand will launch an updated version of its 01 in Europe.