Peter Zec, initiator and head of the prestigious Red Dot award, knows a thing or two about design. He is an expert on its function, right down to the kind of people who want to get behind the wheel of a ŠKODA Superb. So what kind of person does drive a ŠKODA Superb, then? “Someone solid who knows how to appreciate technical quality and aesthetics,” he says. And he should know. He has assessed the aesthetics and impact of all aspects of car design and can draw some clear conclusions.
“Studies show that between 80 and 85 percent of the purchasing decisions in the automotive sector depend on the car’s design. Customers switch brands if they no longer like the design,” he says.
His claims resonate with ŠKODA Head of Design Jozef Kabaň, who is fully aware of how increasingly important design is to stimulate an emotional response. “Nowadays, everyday objects are not only looked at as functional, but they are also viewed with emotion. The creative realisation of emotions is increasing in importance and influences purchasing decisions.”
Regardless of the pull that design can exert on the customer, the new Fabia also greatly impressed the Red Dot jury. Drawing on their extensive experience and awareness for signature design, they found the Fabia’s clean and neat silhouette compelling. But it wasn’t all about the outside. The interior was also judged to be outstanding and spacious. The new model’s combined features helped it win the prestigious award.
According to Kabaň, designers sometime have to second guess consumer wishes, too, and make sure that they are a step ahead to deliver what people don’t even yet know they want. “Sometimes only the experts can recognise the potential. An example: we never could have brought the internet into cars, if we had only asked our customers. A few years ago, they didn’t want it. I didn’t know myself that I would need mobile internet. Nowadays, I’m constantly with my mobile phone when I’m on the move. I have ‘the entire office’ with me at all times. Had someone asked me 20 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have considered this development possible. New things take time,” says Kabaň.
And while Dr Zec could happily categorise a Superb driver as “a solid person who knows how to appreciate technical quality and aesthetics. Someone understated who doesn’t overdo things,” Kabań had something more to add. He expressed what goes into designing a car. “I expect us designers to define dreams. I need to know the direction we’re heading in. The strongest car with a full tank doesn’t help me if I don’t know where to go. Cars from ŠKODA will in the future set themselves apart from the competition thanks to their convincing balance between functionality and aesthetics.”
Design, then, that has a direct appeal. “When you look at a ŠKODA, you should have the feeling of looking into a person’s eyes rather than looking at a high-tech product,” adds Kabań. “The mindset of our brand is very close to the mindset of people.”