Before Saab made cars, they made jets. The very first Saab car was designed and hand built by 16 aircraft engineers. Only one of these guys had a driver’s license.
Still Saab always has an uncommon design philosophy. Citing their own words a Saab design differs by the following essentials: ‘Clean, aerodynamic lines, efficiency and functionality, and innovations beyond what people would expect from a car’. As user interface designer I have been always been interested in developments in the automotive industry. More so since many user interface developments started with the development of fighter planes and spacecraft. Saab develops both.
The Aero X is a good example of Saab’s design approach. What strikes me professionally is the design from inside out. Of course this is intended to tip a hat to Saab’s aviation heritage, with those fighter-jet cockpit doors, and no standard buttons and knobs. Yet don’t let the smooth, clean, and aerodynamic design make you think that it is just a branding statement.
Let’s take a look at the doors and windscreen. These are connected. Instead of using conventional doors or even gullwing doors, it uses a cockpit canopy where the entire top section of the car is opened. There’s no A-pillar, which offers the Aero X’s driver a full 180 degree vision. Secondly it facilitates entry and exit from its low-slung cabin. Intelligent choices.
In my humble opinion Saab comes close to an honorable purpose. The Aero X seems a good candidate to become the iPod in the automotive industry. Implementing the strong underlying concept into the user interface might take this design to that next level.