Good design is a convergence of senses. It brings together sight, touch, sound and even smell in a quest to tap in to an individual’s psyche and appeal on an emotional level. Nowhere is this more obvious than in car design, where the perception of a product is influenced by ergonomics, tactile quality and its overall aesthetic.
Gilles Vidal is well familiar with this fact. Since becoming Peugeot’s Design Director January 2010 – having transitioned over from his previous role as Citroen’s Head of Advanced Design – he has elevated perceived quality and pushed the French company’s newfound design ethos forward.
While Vidal led the development of some of the most lauded concepts during his tenure at Citroen – the C-Metisse and C-Cactus to name a few – the designer’s role at Peugeot has been to steer the brand in a more premium direction. Vehicles like the compact BB1 concept and the production 508 – created before Vidal’s arrival – showcased the brand’s new aesthetic direction, which was further developed with the SR1 concept and the HR1 compact SUV concept and eventually evolved into production designs like the revamped 208 and the more recent 308. Both clearly show that he is up to the challenge.
In the video above, Vidal talks about the intuitive nature of the new 308’s cabin and its ergonomic layout, which has been baptized i-Cockpit. The 308 is the second model in the range to receive Peugeot’s revised instrument panel, which places the cluster in front of the driver’s sightline allowing for a greater focus on the road ahead. He talks about how the innovative driving position and the small steering wheel helps drivers feel more confident behind the wheel, and how the minimalist IP and touchscreen interface bring the car’s functions close to hand, creating an ergonomic triangle that minimizes driver distraction.
Good design is about finding solutions to problems and enhancing a person’s relationship with a product. The look, tactile quality and sound of a vehicle combined with its ease of use elicits an emotional response, which ultimately drives people to dealerships. And given the success of Vidal’s team so far, it would appear they’re on to something.