Virgilio Fernandez

Virgilio Fernandez – The Designer of the New 500L

Virgilio Fernandez presented his work at Belgrade Design Week

B92 web portal, Serbia, 11.07.2013.

New models of Fiat are currently in the spotlight of the Serbian media. A few days ago, Fiat Automobili Srbija unveiled Fiat “500L Living” in its factory in Kragujevac, and at this year’s Belgrade Design Week, Fiat introduced its new model, the 500L, but from a different, creative perspective.

At the Conference „Innovation Squared“, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art from 6 to 8 June, the Chief designer at Fiat Centro Stile, the Spaniard Virgilio Fernandez, talked about the process of designing the interior of one of the most popular new city cars by Fiat (produced in Kragujevac), which seems to have become even more appealing after this interesting presentation.

“It’s difficult to restore something that is part of the past, and that no longer exists. Of course, some things need to be recovered, but some things that we think are lost, have actually changed. That’s why we are trying to recover the elements that could not be changed, preserving the most important ones, but modernizing the model, in terms of functionality. As for returning the value of a brand that has the kind of history that Fiat 600 had in Serbia, it is a challenge because in every culture, for example in Italy, Serbia or Spain, that car had a different significance and because these experiences are different in every culture. They need to be restored, without being distorted and brought into the modern era in an honest way” says Virgilio.

The company strives to stay innovative and in that respect it has a special approach.

“For Fiat, innovation means creating a car that is very modern, but also user-friendly. That is why we introduce innovations that are almost hidden, which offer benefits of better functionality without being intimidating. We are very dedicated to making the innovation accessible, so that it offers additional content but that it doesn’t cause stress in a sense that the user has to learn to do something new, which can sometimes make people shy away from technology. The car technology used in Asia may not be the same innovative technology we have in Europe, so it is also important where the car is produced, because based on where you produce, you can introduce certain innovations. i believe that Serbia is one of the main reasons why this car has stayed in Europe, as a part of an innovative production context”.

What is particularly interesting in the story of Fiat is about inspiration and creative process of designing this car. According to the designer, Fiat actually never produced cars, but “architecture on four wheels”, therefore cars are designed as more than just dynamic objects that serve a purpose, which led the company to produce some very distinctive models, in terms of design, like the Fiat 600 Multipla.

“The idea of drawing inspiration from architecture is the starting point, because it allows us to explore in dynamic objects the same things that architecture explores in the static ones. The loft we have been inspired by the case of 500l has helped us make a similar interior of the car, trying to translate it into dynamic context. We have also tried to use some of the key elements of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye. We tried to apply what he called “free plan” to the car body and interpret it through the 360 degrees view, so we got a big glass surface that lets a lot of light into the interior”, says Virgilio.

He claims that often the car interior doesn’t convey emotion, as the whole process includes a lot of technical elements, but working on Fiat 500L, the team managed to make an absolutely functional automobile that can inspire certain emotion, enabling the user to drive with ease.

“Serbia was chosen because it has become an ideal place to produce this kind of technology and innovation that we needed, also because we wanted to create that sort of “emotional functionality”. I found that Serbia has many periods in its history that are very much related to Fiat (the old model Fiat 600, for example). That’s why we believed Serbia was capable of reinterpreting very well the interior of the new model, which needed to maintain the essence of what it was all about in the past, in various countries, Serbia, Italy, France, Spain…” concludes Virgilio Fernandez.

Read the original article here.