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Tuesday Chew: Jens Sieber – automotive interior virtuoso

German-born Jens Sieber is a leader in automotive interior design. He's headed the interior design for the Audi R8, GT, the A1 and the futuristic RSQ for the I Robot film.  He’s currently in New Zealand to launch Audi’s flagship model, the new A8, which comes in at an epic $240,000.

Who are you and what do you do?

I work for Audi as an interior designer. I am responsible for the architecture of interiors.

Tell me about the latest project the Audi A8?

When we talk about the interior, it’s about being spacious. The intention was to create an interior that is luxurious, prestigious and premium,  without being bulky, heavy and opulent. It’s the luxurious way of the future. The interior is lightweight and has an open feel. I aimed to strike a balance between sportiness and elegance.

Favourite project you’ve worked on so far?

The Audi A8 and also the R8. They’re two really nice cars and we’re really proud of them. I enjoyed working with the design team on them. 

How important is the ‘team’ aspect to your work?

I think as a designer it’s really good to have someone at the other end of the table like an engineer. It brings you, as a designer, into the right balance between ergonomics, costs and technology.

What inspires you?

Many, many things because as a designer you have to always keep your eyes open - open to cultural aspects as well as customer aspects. As a designer you look at people and how they use their products. I also look at cultural aspects like art.

When I worked on the A8, I looked to other premium products like yachts and boats for inspiration. They may be different products but they fit customer expectations of a premium product.

What’s your dream project?

It might sound cliché, but the next project is more or less always the dream project. Every new project is an exciting challenge.

I also lucky to be working in my dream job.  I’m doing what I love and I’m getting paid for it.

What are your essential design ingredients?

I’m a fan of strong but simple design themes. When doing an Audi, it’s really important to make a clear design that is not too simple, yet is emotionally engaging. Designing is a very personal thing. You put your own handwriting into the design. The new A8 model has a small amount of my personal handwriting but it also contains Audi’s design DNA.

How has technology changed the way you design?

It makes it faster. And although the tools are changing, I still start off by sketching on paper. You can now sketch directly onto digital screens, but a book with real sheets of paper is still the starting point.

Growing up you wanted to be...?

When I was young, I always knew that I wanted to do something creative – be it graphics, architecture or product design. So yes, I got there.