Simon Padian works for Einar Hareide again

Many of you have repeatedly asked what is currently Mr. Padian doing. I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing, but Mr Padian started working for a Swedish Design Studio from June 5.

But it is not only Simon Padian. I get the impression that the Saab design is clustering around this design studio that based in Gothemburg, which means that those former Saab employees may work on projects for Volvo, but it also means that they are there and any new owner of Saab Automobile could have access to them as well as they could have access to those former Saab engineers that have been clustered around engineering consultancies based in Trollhättan.

Read moreSimon Padian works for Einar Hareide again

Car Design News on Jason Castriota and Saab Design

I hate it when your feeds don’t work. I have an RSS feed for CDN but this article hasn’t crossed it and it was written around 10 days ago.

What we’ve got here is a good article that outlines who is doing what in the new structure at Saab Design.


Castriota’s new appointment marks the shift from Saab’s former position – where the brand was an integrated company within GM – to its newfound placement as an independent automaker, with Castriota essentially filling the role previously occupied by Mark Adams, GM Europe’s Vice President of Design.

Perhaps befitting of Saab’s leftfield nature, the arrangement between Saab and Castriota is far from conventional: it is the first time an external consultant has been hired to fill an executive role within an existing design structure. We spoke with Castriota earlier this week and asked him whether he had himself been hired as the company’s new design director, or whether his company had been hired as an external consultancy to advise and work on the next generation products. “It’s actually a blend of both,” Castriota replied. “They have hired my consultancy to design the next generation of cars, but they have also given me an internal role of design director, as part of the leadership team, which is going to help define the future product strategy and the brand.”

CDN understands that Simon Padian, Saab’s current brand design chief, is still currently leading the internal design team and working alongside Castriota’s consultancy. Padian, who has headed Saab’s design studio since 2005, will report to Castriota while continuing to manage the internal team and running of the studio day-to-day. Castriota will sit on the company’s board and advise on the future design direction of the brand, reporting directly to Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson.


Thanks to Perry for this link, in comments overnight.

My 2cents on the Jason Castriota appointment as head of Saab Design

Oh boy. I feel like I’m biting the hand that feeds here, but Saab like this website to be independent, so independent and opinionated it will be.

Saab appointed a new Design chief yesterday. Jason Castriota comes with a fine pedigree and a range of striking and beautiful designs in his personal portfolio. Under normal circumstances I’d throw my arms wide open and say welcome to the family.

But these don’t feel like normal circumstances to me. So whilst I’m excited that Saab has someone like Castriota on board, I also feel uneasy.

Victor Muller has often commented on the fact that Saab has the most loyal customers of any car brand, bar none. I happen to agree. However, in the more focused enthusiast world, I think that loyalty extends a little beyond just the cars. Many of us also have some amount of attachment to the company and the people therein that we get to know over time.

It’s hard to hear this announcement about Jason Castriota and not wonder about what might have happened to Simon Padian. Simon has been described as being the head of Saab Design for the last few years. He’s been the face of many Saab films and design-related releases and his work has been valued to no small degree by the fans of the company. He did all this through some very difficult times for the company. I guess you could say he’s been as loyal to Saab as what many of the fans have been over the difficult years.

In writing all of this, I have to say that I’m completely unaware as to Simon’s fate in light of this decision. He may be staying on at Saab and continuing his work there. he may be moving on. I don’t know, but I do know that he was a notable absentee from the 9-5 launch event I attended in Sweden just over a week ago.

Simon Padian is a Brit, but he’s worked for Saab for 20 years, lives in Sweden, speaks Swedish and has led a team of dedicated Saab designers. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he ‘gets it’ when it comes to Saab.

It should be noted that the Castriota appointment appears to be the outsourcing of some Saab Design. Castriota’s entire design company will work on Saab and his offices are in New York and Turin. Saab’s origins in Sweden and the functional design implied therein are crucial values in the fabric of the company. There’s no word on how much time Castriota or his people will spend in Sweden, but the other question that must be asked in light of this corporate appointment is what will it mean for other members of Saab’s Design team? Will it still remain the size that it is?

The answers to questions about Simon Padian and the size of the design team may not involve negative answers, but in the eyes of someone who values loyalty to the Saab brand, they’re questions that are worth asking. Maybe design needs some new blood, as some have suggested, but the question is still worth asking.

There is no doubt that Castriota is a young star of the design world. Like the appointment of Adrian Hallmark, this is a move that’s a great coup for Saab, but at what cost?

Simon Padian and the Saab Design team understand the brand. They live it. I’m very keen to see what Castriota will bring to the table but I hope the Saab Design appointment means more to him than another feather in his cap. I’m pretty sure it meant more than that to his predecessors.


Part 3 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

A few weeks ago in Frankfurt, I was fortunate enough to sit down (in a Saab 9-3x) and have a good long chat with Simon Padian about all things to do with Saab Design. We covered a lot of different subjects over the course of around 45 minutes and this is the second part of that interview.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Simon Padian
Again, my thanks to Simon for the interview and insights. This is the final part in a three-part transcription.

Saabs United: What was the first Saab you ever drove?
Simon Padian: Let’s see…..the first Saab I ever drove?
SU: Was it prior to you starting with Saab?
SP: I don’t think I ever drove one before I started at Saab, no. I’d been in Saabs before I worked for them but I don’t think I’d ever driven one, thinking back. Or did I? Yes, yes I did. The first one I ever drove was a 99. It was about a year or 18 months before I came to work at Saab. I didn’t own it. It belonged to a friend, but that was the first one.
SU: Was it a turbo?
SP: No. It wasn’t.
SU: I’ve just bought one so I’ve got turbo fever.
SP: Inca wheels?
SU: Yeah, with a spare set of Incas to go with it.
SP: Fantastic!
A bit more crapping on from me about 99 Turbos……
SU: So, the 9-5…… We’ve heard the press talk, that’s it 80% Swedish. We’ve come to accept that it’s a conglomeration between Sweden and Germany, but what was the main focus of the Swedish work?
SP: Well we’ve been involved with the car right from the start, of course. The main focus for us, in location terms, was probably the interior. That was developed, physically, in Sweden. Bus as I said, we’ve been involved throughout the whole process. Being part of the GME (GM Europe) design organisation, and it’s been a large project, so [head of GME Design] Mark Adams has been the person overseeing the project in its entirety.
SU: Do you tend to put more emphasis, personally – whether it comes down to the ownership experience or driving experience or just getting attached to the car – do you tend to think more in terms of exterior or interior?

Read morePart 3 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

Part 2 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

A few weeks ago in Frankfurt, I was fortunate enough to sit down (in a Saab 9-3x) and have a good long chat with Simon Padian about all things to do with Saab Design. We covered a lot of different subjects over the course of around 45 minutes and this is the second part of that interview.
Part 1 is here.

Simon Padian
Again, my thanks to Simon for the interview and insights. This is part 2 of what will most likely be a three-part transcription.
Saabs United: Can you run us quickly – if it can be done quicky – through the design process? So for example, “we’ve going to build X class of car” – is that where it starts?
Simon Padian: The starting point is, I suppose, what we call the portfolio dicussions, it’s where we say “OK, what kind of cars are we going to need in X-number of years?” What kind of role they should have, what should it be built on? And obviously we’re involved at that point, because design’s all about looking ahead and we’ve obviously got a lot to say about that. So then when a car’s been identified and it’s like “OK, we’re going to do that kind of product” then you start looking at the architecture and there’s a lot of discussions backwards and forwards in terms of “well, from a design perspective, we want to reduce the front overhang as much as possible… we want to widen the track… we want to get the proportions right” because that’s the starting point, really, the proportions. Once you’ve locked in some of those parameters, then you’ve got to live with those proportions, basically. It’s very difficult to do a good design if you haven’t got good proportions. They’re the building blocks. If your overhang’s too long at the front and your track’s very narrow and it’s tall – it doesn’t matter how good the design is, it’s never going to look right. So you try and establish all those parts. There’s lots of discussion – detailed discussions around the architecture, the position of the windscreen, for example. We’re working a lot with engineering and what tends to happen is that you at least try and narrow it down to bandwidth. So there’s a little bit of freedom because of all the packaging and components…..
SU: …everything’s got to fit in….
SP: Yeah, everything’s got to work. So usually you can say, OK, the touch-down point for the windscreen, for example, that can come anywhere within, say, a 100mm bandwidth, and that way you know your limits in terms of how the design can be or where the surface is going to go. Things like roof height, we’re always trying to push the roof down, of course, because it makes the car look more dynamic, but you’ve got a limit to how low you can sit in the car, how much headroom you need so that people can fit in it. So all these kind of things. The biggest one at the moment, which is effecting everybody is the front end, in terms of the pedestrian protection. All the regulations are getting a lot tougher now….

Read morePart 2 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

Part 1 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

I was fortunate enough to sit down (in a Saab 9-3x) and have a good long chat with Simon Padian about all things to do with Saab Design. We covered a lot of different subject areas over the course of around 45 minutes and I’ve transcribed all the things I’m allowed to 🙂 in the following text.
My thanks to Simon for the interview and insights. There will be a few more parts of this interview to come in the next few days.
Saabs United: Let’s start at the beginning. When did you start working for Saab?
Simon Padian: Back in 1989.
SU: So I imagine you’ve worked on every vehicle since that time?
SP: I have. Pretty much everything we’ve produced since then. There were a few things that I haven’t worked on and there are quite a few things I have worked on that have never come out, as well. The very first project I worked on was the ‘new 900’ as it was then, working for Bjorn Envall….
SU: …and that was completely scrapped, wasn’t it?
SP: The theme was kept, but as you probably know we changed platform at the eleventh hour and we basically had to re-do everything. It became narrower, for instance. We did try to keep the theme but it was a re-start.
SU: How much time would you have lost because of that?
SP: It’s difficult to remember, but it must have been between eighteen months and two years.
SU: You mentioned to me earlier that that new 900 was originally going to be built on the same platform as the 9000.

Read morePart 1 – Interview with Simon Padian from Saab Design

The Saab Sensation Part Two – by Lance Cole

This article is a follow-up to a piece written by Lance back in June – The Saab Sensation (how only design and money can save Saab)

Lance Cole is a writer living in England and has penned several books on automobiles and aviation. Saab enthusiasts would know him best for the book Saab 99 and 900: The Complete Story, which is an excellent and essential volume and available for sale at the SU Bookshop.

Click here to read all of Lance’s previous contributions at Trollhattan Saab.

The Saab Sensation Part Two – why the new design of the new Saab 95, really is a landmark

  • Lance Cole on how design integrity is easy to spot

Ah, another motor show, another new car launch. After years of attending them , it takes a lot to make me lift my veil of cynicism – honed has it has been over the years by listening to shiny corporate boys extol the virtues of their new Bloggs Botox Mk III Gti, ST, face-lift wonder car.

Yet here we have something genuinely worthy, a piece of design that, despite the constraints of its conception and parentage, has actually achieved something – and I was not even there to see it! But I have seen it in the flesh, and it bears discussion – because it is real design – that timeless, hallmarked auto sculpture that I see in the annals of Battista Pininfarina, Giovanni Michelotti, Nuccio Bertone, Robert Opron, Bruno Sacco, William Lyons, Malcolm Sayer, Claus Luthe, Bjorn Envall, and Paul Bracq, to name but a few.

I talk of the new Saab 9-5.

2010 Saab 9-5

A few weeks, ago, after Jaguar premiered the new XJ prototype -for-production, Autocar magazine kindly published my views upon its design.Therein, I asked of the new Jaguar XJ, if its shape was, “a genuinely new design language.. or an amalgamation of varying themes in search of an identity shaped by fashion instead of design integrity?” For me the answer is that, that indeed is what it represents, no matter how superb its execution.
Yet at least the XJ is not a retro-pastiche a la Rover 75 or Mini, or Mustang, or the Porsche Panamerica Halibut…

Read moreThe Saab Sensation Part Two – by Lance Cole

Friday Night Snippets – KoenigSaab edition

Go Vote!
There’s absolutely no point to this poll, but I’m going to invite you to participate anyway, just for fun.
Autoblog are running a poll asking whether people think the Koenigsaab deal is a good thing. As I write this, 91.4% of voters agree with the deal.
KoenigSaab poll.jpg
Head on over to Autoblog to have your say. Let’s see if we can lift it to at least 95%.
Thanks to JuergU!
New Logo??
SAB dropped this in comments and Etienne has it up on his site as well. I’m not sure who got there first (though it looks like one of Steve’s designs) so credit to both!
Simon Padian
There’s a good, quick interview with one of Saab’s chief designers, Simon Padian, at a site called In Design Live.

What are the trends that you are setting with your design and how do these tie in with your design ethics?
I am not so sure Saab design is about consciously setting trends, rather about strengthening the brand identity and offering a clear alternative to the mainstream.
Saab design should be seen to adhere to the philosophy of Scandinavian design and to provide a clear, distinctive and progressive aesthetic that the brand deserves.
As such rather than creating trends I would like Saab design to always be one step ahead and to be respected as a leader in design – much the same way that Apple has become.

A good, quick read.
Thanks to “Me”!

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