Ex. Saab designers to Geely/Volvo – Who designs Saab?

Designer Simon Padian who was with Saab Automobile from 1998 to 2012 has moved to Geely Design in Göteborg/Gothenburg where he will be the Interior Design Director. At the same time Simon Lamarre takes the helm at Geely as the Exterior Design Director. Lamarre has according to his LinkedIn account been with Saab Automobile as well. My sources in the automobile design world where hoping that NEVS would hire Simon Padian but since he is now with Geely that is not possible. But there are some other guys near Trollhättan who are more then qualified to run the future design department at NEVS.

My personal short-list  of names to run the NEVS/SAAB design department would be: (in no ranking order)

– Eduard Gray at GrayDesign in Vargön who has proven his talent to design not only cars but super-yachts and motorcycles. Now also with LeanNova as a consultant. We have seen some of Eduards stunning 9-5 generation III designs here at SaabsUnited last year.

– Victor Holmquist at Volvo Construction Equipment is a hard core gear-head with the right mindset and radical ideas on car design. I have seen the designs he sent to Saab when he applied for a job some years ago. His design of an  upgraded 9-3 and fighterjet inspired racer Sonett where mindblowing. Victor had his AlfaRomeo GTV “Modifcatizione” in my carage in Stockholm for some years before moving to Göteborg. That car has so much carbonfiber stuff made by Viktor.

– Ola Granlund, he runs his own design studio in Göteborg. Long time with Saab and according to ex. design chief at Saab Björn Envall, one of the most talented “young” designers he has seen at Saab. His name Granlund is of the Saab family in Trollhättan, his dad Olle was product manager. I met Ola in the military way back in the 1985.

Design is I would say and stick out my chin, is the most important asset for a smaller or boutique car manufacturer. Design must take the lead in front of the mechanical engineering (sorry boys and girls in that engineering field). The competition is so hard today so why not make a design that stands out. Give You a fresh exampel. Mercedes is about to launch new vehicles with “older” design chassis components. The mechanical engineers grinds their teeth, but carry on the new order. Most cars are good on the road and the average buyer does not crawl around on the showroom marbelfloor to inspect if the car has a 3-4-5-6 link rear axle. But the design of the car body, lines and curves is crucial. And just not to mention how the buyers are greeted and taken care of by the sales staff, but that is another write-up here at SU.

saabboy1
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Eduardo Gray is on my list as well. I hope the new 9-3 face lift looks a little like the Mark III. Also the guy that went to Porsche I forget his name.

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Any chance of outsourcing the design? Are places like Pinninfarina still around?

Joe
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

To amplify the notion that automobile business is global;
“In 2006, Hyundai hired Thomas Bürkle as head of the company’s design center in Russelsheim, Germany. Burkle had previously worked for BMW, having designed the 3 Series sedan and wagon, and the 6 Series.”

I think there are few individuals that will argue with the market success of Hyundai, and their current designs.
Their success and designs are not coincidental.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Lots of people like their designs. I find them repulsive. I’d say Hyundai design represents the antithesis of Saab design.

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Yes, and Hyundai’s profits and growth represent the antithesis of Saab’s bankruptcy and failure.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Certainly true. However, Saab didn’t fail because of its design and Hyundai is not triumphing because of its design. Hyundai is doing well because of their phenomenal warranties and good marketing strategies. Those were two perennial weak points at Saab.

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

True to an extent—but I do think the Sonata for example, took off because of the exterior design and interior comfort. My co-worker had one—-great huge sunroof, nice leather interior, very affordable. They knocked off Mercedes and did a good enough job that people noticed and that drove the sales spike as much as the warranty coverage—-which has existed for a long time now.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I had a 2012 Sonata as a rental car for two weeks whilst on vacation. It unfortunately had the standard cloth seats and they were the most uncomfortable seats I have ever experienced. Sounds like the leather ones are much better.

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Patrik: They are not up to the standard of my 2004 Saab—-but her car cost her about the same in 2011 as my Saab cost in 2004. It’s an affordable car that has styling that resonates with younger buyers—lots of features—very adequate performance and a ridiculously long warranty. NEVS is in for a wild ride if they try to take the Muller path.

saabyurk
Member
2 years 10 months ago

+++ (to what Patrik H said)

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Well, the good news is that these nicely designed Saabs can be had cheap—-resale has collapsed and there’s plenty of them. As long as Orio can supply parts to keep them on the road, you can buy a well equipped Saab for a lot less than most anything else, including fast selling Hyundai.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

It’s definitely a buyer’s market. I’d say in about two years I will be picking up a top-of-the-line NG9-5 Aero for well under $20k.

dcpattie
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I know Jason Castriota got mixed reviews on SU but I feel this lost Saab Concepts were fantastic and captured a design language that would have propelled Saab forward for the next decade. In case you missed his Road & Track feature – here it is: http://www.roadandtrack.com/photos-saab-9-1-9-3-sonett-concepts?click=main_sr#slide-1

IMHO, hire Jason back!

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

That Sonett! Gorgeous! Modern and sexy, yet oh-so Saab!

ingvar
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Yes!

Mark
Member
2 years 10 months ago

The 9-3 replacement still needed a little refinement but Jason’s other concepts are indeed worthy.

saabyurk
Member
2 years 10 months ago
I agree, but unlike most others, I think his 9-3 was the most worthy design. I really regret not being able to look forward to buying one. I look at his 9-1 and Sonett designs and I see a little too much “me-too”. I look at the 9-3 and I see strength, beauty, and functionality all in one. The car seems to be saying, “Let the boys play their silly games, I’ll stand proud and be what a car should be.” I see a bold stance, great aerodynamics, roominess, and a timeless design. Sure it needs refinement but I see… Read more »
Jeff
Member
2 years 10 months ago

We have more pictures from this, and interior shots, but are still waiting on permission to publish them from JC. Interviewed him 6 months ago, posted the draft here, and then lost the ambition to even publish after he kept delaying sending images. I’ll try to follow up with him again.

Bernard
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Congratulations to Simon Padian for moving to Volvo. They can sure use the help, their exterior designs have been good lately, but the interiors aren’t worthy of a premium car. That waterfall theme wasn’t pretty when it first came out (especially in Volvo’s preferred grey-on-grey colourways). Now it’s both ugly and dated. Let’s hope that Geely gives him the resources to get Volvo back in the game.

MeanSabean
Member
2 years 10 months ago

NEVS should give Jason Castriota a go at it! Giugaro design would also design a beautiful car. I’m sorry to say that Swedish designers are no match to Italian designers! If you want a beautiful design and to have an Impact and make the auto world talk then it must be Italian design, they are simply the Best!

baas900i
Member
2 years 10 months ago

NEVS are pretty good at keeping things under wraps so we are all grasping at straws trying to figure out whats going on but the Italian’s are pretty good at automotive design for the masses….

JoPlSe
Member
2 years 10 months ago

No, way. Keep Castriota as far away from Saab as possible.

Joe
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Wulin Gao Wa !
She will out-design any European or Scandinavian for the modern era.

http://www.carbodydesign.com/gallery/2012/01/interview-with-wulin-gaowa/6/

Her designs are homogeneous, smooth, muscular, but classic.
Best in the business.
Whoever gets her, wins the styling and design war hands-down.
Bigger question…will she want to work for NEVS?

OddJob
Member
2 years 10 months ago
Ola Granlund has been a much underestimated designer at Saab for a long time. Among other things he made the 2008 facelift for the 9-3 which I think still is a very nice and Saabish design. He also made the design transformation of the Subaru WRX – into the Saab 9-2 (still one of the best looking subaru’s). I believe Ola has at least a decade of experience from the Saab Design department, he’s born in Trollhättan and as Trued said his father has among other things been project manager for the development of Saab 9-5, so Ola sure has… Read more »
Ian Glenday
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Ola gets my vote!!!

Emmanuel
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I think that Anthony Lo together with Simon Padian have worked extensively at SAAB.

To the best of my knowledge
Simon Padian was a SAAB Brand Design Chief and
Anthony Lo was a GM Europe Advanced Design Director

JoPlSe
Member
2 years 10 months ago

True, if we could get them back it would be fantastic!

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Einar Hareide led my favorite Saab designs: first-generation 9-5 sedan and wagon and 2003 9-3. Just the right blend of the classic Saab aesthetic with contemporary sensibility and lots of nice compound curves. What is he doing nowadays?

JH
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I’m also very fond of Einar Hareide’s Saab designs. The original 9-5 from 1997 has really nice lines and has aged beautifully and the same goes for the OG 9-3. That Hareide has his own design studio makes it easier to contract him as well. Otherwise I really liked Jason Castriota’s designs, especially the new 9-3 which unfortunately never made it into production. Bring back the hatch! 🙂

Joe
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

“Bring back the hatch” . JH: wisest words spoken here in a long time.
I believe when SAAB gave up the hatch design, they lost some of their competitive advantage and identity in the marketplace. The market-death spiral began.
I’d love to know (impossible) how many SAAB’s were purchased due to the cavernous and well designed hatch implementation vs. competitive units.
Anyone want to venture a guess?
“Bring back the hatch”…, alas; is it too late?

phermansson
Member
2 years 10 months ago

+++++

Troels, Denmark
Member
2 years 10 months ago
Hmmmm…… Might be a challenge…… Good – and needed – for Volvo, maybe not so good for Saab. To design a SAAB is not just to design a car. It is so important that SAABs identity – and not at least; integrity will be kept and progressively developed. What has been – and should be – so strong and extraordinary about SAAB-design is: – Integrity between the technological progressiveness and “out-of-box-thinking” and the design itself (Shape, lines. aerodynamics). – An understanding of the “wholeness”, the main-lines, the body-stance etc as being more important than “smart” or trendy details and the… Read more »
100%Saab
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I like Simon Padian. Maybe I will reconsider Volvo.

Baver
Member
2 years 10 months ago

That’s exactly what I was thinking.

JoPlSe
Member
2 years 10 months ago

For the interior design only? Maybe if he also did exterior design 🙂

saabyurk
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Well said.

saabonaut
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Too pity Simon’s gone, however,
a clear vote PRO J A S O N C A S T R I O T A ! !

He’s inhaled the SAAB virus and history and proved it through marvelous phoenix-designs. He could even go a step further with the next generation based on his phoenix concepts and create a truly unique, “corky” saab. He’s the man !

JoPlSe
Member
2 years 10 months ago

-1000

Johnny Johansson
Member
2 years 10 months ago

The former Saab designer, Andreas Barbunopulos, who was a designer at Saab for many years, is now, as a consultant from LeanNova, responsible for design at Nevs.

Emmanuel
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Bård Eker, Designer (and Part-owner of Koenigsegg).

zippy
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Einar Hareide, Simon Padian and Anthony Lo most definitely understood what a Saab should look like. The original 9-5, 9-3SS and AeroX were timeless as was the NG9-5 which regretfully had its life cut short. Saab needs to continue the design revolution that was started by the NG9-5 which is, IMO, timeless. Forget the JC 9-3 which was a total mess that would have been a disaster saleswise.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago
Agreed! All of their designs are timeless, like a Saab should be. I drive an ’03 9-3SS and I am amazed at the number of people who think it’s practically brand new. Regular washing and waxing helps a lot, but I think that speaks volumes about Saab design. With a minor facelift and some reworkings to the interior, a NEVS 9-3 can do well, from a design perspective at least. The NG9-5 is a stunning design and I think many of its wonderful qualities could easily be transferred over (or at least inspired) to a facelifted 9-3.
Jan Ivarsson
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

+1 , those cars are imho also the best designs there are.
JC:s designs are brave and forwards thinking but they don’t capture anything of Saabs prior design language.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago

+++

JoPlSe
Member
2 years 10 months ago

++++++

OddJob
Member
2 years 10 months ago

One hero from the Saab design department whom I forgot to mention in my previous post is Matias Cindric. He has been playing behind the scenes, but was responsible for the overall co-ordination of Saab design iwhen the design headquarters moved to Russelheim (Opel) for the 9-x concept cars and the 9-5 NG – must have been tough work to fight with those GM people.

Matias is currently working at Yovinn AB

GerritN
Member
2 years 10 months ago
OK, so with the risk of sounding overly negative, sorry for that in advance. Guys, face it, NEVS is designing cars for China. If you have seen all the Frankencopies of main stream Western cars driving around in China then you know that NEVS doesn’t need any high flying designers. A high school kid with a nice box of crayons will be sufficient to fill Padan’s and all other escapees old shoes. Yeah, sorry again, that sounded pretty negative after all. I decided to stay out of the discussions for most of the last year, but this feeling of doom… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Welcome to the dark side Gerrit. I actually have less doom and gloom than you do about what type of cars NEVS/Saab is capable of building. I have plenty of doom and gloom though, about the fact that they seem incapable of running a business.

Baver
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Well, Gerrit, with Padian going to ovloV, perhaps it’s time to jump ship.

Sergey Malinin
Member
2 years 10 months ago
I agree with Trued. Mechanical parts innovation is not my worry I prefer stuff reliability and cheap parts available in short time including aftermarket like it is with my 9-3 2009 at the moment. The same chassis, proved turbo engine and Aisin auto 6 gears or more enough to restart and show up sales numbers to assure investors that project is effective. Many my friends share it is a trend product cycle decreasing every year. All carmakers have to show up completely new model every 5-6 years so design is only the key to success. Look at Korean manufacturers whos… Read more »
saabluster
Member
2 years 10 months ago

My Saab design dream-team would be Niclas Palm and Anthony Lo.

Jeff
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I’ve been told who’s designing the facelift as of May. He’s not mentioned above, and he’s not from one of this community’s favorite companies if you catch my drift. He also has experience designing cars to appeal to the Chinese market, which obviously makes sense. It just so happens that cars for that market appeal to me, like compact SUVs and premium compacts (except the long wheelbase compacts, gag). I’m actually not worried, he’s good. Haven’t seen a damn thing yet that he’s done for Saab yet, that should change soon.

baas900i
Member
2 years 10 months ago

source?

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I’m not worried about the designs we will see, in time. I am worried about whether all of us will have a chance to buy one of them—-that is, unless we all move to China.

Troels, Denmark
Member
2 years 10 months ago
Does not sound to good in my ears, I am sorry to say…. Designing to “appeal to the Chines market” (or to any “common taste” ) is not the right way, IMO. Design is – or should be – an honest expression for a true attitude and philosophy, integrated with a general approach to life. That, IMO, SAAB has done through the years, but only very few other car-manufactures. Design or art made to satisfy a general (lack of) taste will never be true and therefore uninteresting…. But let us see and hope for the best: New generations of SAABs… Read more »
Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago
I like the way you expressed that and maybe that’s the reason I love my Saab. But think the trick will be to keep people like you and I as customers by doing things just different enough—-trying to keep with the spirit you just laid out beautifully—-but on the other hand, making the full product line more accessible to more people than the old Saab ever did. The reason I say that is because while that philosophy you described served us well as buyers, it did not serve Saab well as a company who must sell a lot of cars… Read more »
RS
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Troels, I sure hope common taste equals to people with families and not just some modern day green yuppie trendsetter who wants to drive the latest fashion statement which he or she can flip as soon as someone else offers more bling…
The future ‘Chinese influnced Saabs’ might even have RWD, enormous back seat leg room, but no cargo space to speak of?
Better take good care of your 9-5 SC’s boys.

Patrik H
Member
2 years 10 months ago
Saab design is “my thing” so I love these kinds of discussions. You are absolutely right that Saab has a long, proud history of unique design and unique engineering solutions. I hope the future of Saab will continue these traits. However, to build upon what Angelo says, I think the key will be to use design and engineering to emphasize why Saab is ‘better’, not merely to emphasize why it is ‘unique.’ The difference is subtle, but it’s critically important. Saab needs to be different because it’s better, not just for the sake of being different. Many have suggested this… Read more »
Troels, Denmark
Member
2 years 10 months ago

I agree completely! 🙂 I M O design, like tech. innovations etc., is not just about taste but also about quality…

RS
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Form and function!
If NEVS offers at least one big enough high quality Saab model with hatchback and wagon variants that is truly made for the winter roads and extreme temperatures I don’t care what they manufacture for Asia.

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

But I’m assuming you DO CARE if they ONLY manufacture for Asia???

3cyl
Member
2 years 10 months ago
SAAB traditionally did not design things just to be different. Their airplane heritage affected the design and engineering and this contributed to the cars being different. Later, that heritage became diluted because the cars had to be based on global platforms for reasons of economics. This resulted in the the owners/managers of SAAB insisting that these generic based models had to have the ignition key on the floor for the cars to be real SAABs. This missed the point entirely. It wasn’t the key on the floor that made the older SAABs different, it was the thinking that put the… Read more »
Troels, Denmark
Member
2 years 10 months ago

++

Joe
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Google: Wulin Gao Wa
She is an up and coming Chinese car designer.
Expect her to make waves in the market, and NEVS would be very lucky to have her in studio.
Angelo would like her too!

Angelo V.
Member
2 years 10 months ago

Joe: Please. You are trivializing what Rachel Pang and I had, by making it seem as though I would also fall for Wulin Gao Wa. Besides, it would be easier for me to introduce my family and friends to my new girlfriend Rachel, than to my new girlfriend Wulin Gao Wa.

Joe
Guest
2 years 10 months ago

Angelo;
Did you see Wulin Gao Wa’s photo?
Like I said, NEVS would be lucky to have her.
Keep Jason C, I’ll take her any day.

ALX
Member
2 years 10 months ago

The NG Saab 95 was completely designed in Opel Ruesselsheim . No Saab designers were involved. Same goes for the Saab 94 which was designed in the US. The Saab brand studio was involved in colour and trim and some interior detailing. If the 9x Air , bio hybrid , Ng 95 , Aero x were key designs then the ultimate Saab team would be Mark Adams, Malcolm ward and Anthony Lo.

Original 9x – Michael Mauer who has gone on to make an amazing job at Porsche.

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