Mobility technology – symbolized by electrification, autonomous driving, and connected technologies – is bringing innovation to automobiles. Its interior, which is evolving into a living and resting space, is a representative example. The ample space realized by the dedicated platform and the driver’s seat, which became unnecessary due to autonomous driving technology, serve as the basis for future mobility interiors that support rest and leisure. Therefore, many automobile manufacturers are presenting blueprints that maximize the value of space based on these technologies.
Hyundai Motor Group has also introduced mobility using the characteristics of a home interior reminiscent of a living room - Hyundai Seven Concept, a mobility ondol concept of sitting ondol heating using battery heat, and a Kia EV9 electric SUV with three-row seat arrangement seating, etc. But while the line between home and car interiors is blurring, is there anything we should be concerned about? Can’t we predict the future of mobility through home interior trends? With Sang-Hoon Han, a space designer of the interior lifestyle platform ‘Today’s House’, we looked at what kind of link between home interior trends and future mobility.
Han is in charge of interior design research and home furnishing space styling. What is the biggest characteristic he picks up in the home interior industry these days? First, he explains that people’s interest in interior design has increased significantly due to COVID-19.
“As we spent more time at home due to social distancing, interest in home interiors has also increased. Whereas in the past the house was a place to rest after work, the house of today should be a space where work and hobbies are possible as well as rest. The keyword that represents this is ‘layered home.’ Layered home represents a home furnishing trend that allows for various activities in a limited space. Just like a layered look where you wear multiple clothes, you style it in consideration that the house can fulfill multiple roles. ‘Home Cafe’ and ‘Home Gym’ are good examples.”
The concept of Layered home can be sufficiently applied to the mobility interior. This is because it is a design philosophy that multiplies the utility and function of mobility. Han then said, “due to the centralization of the metropolitan area and rising house prices, the residential area occupied by one person is gradually getting smaller. Therefore, the interior of the car can be a partial alternative to the residential space in that it is a space that is entirely my own. When fully autonomous driving is implemented, various activities such as work, leisure, and rest will be carried out while on the go.”
In fact, the concept of a layered home is already partially reflected in the interior of Concept Seven, unveiled by Hyundai last year. The Seven is a large electric SUV concept with a spacious 3.2m wheelbase and a flat interior floor as a platform exclusively for electric vehicles. The most eye-catching thing about Seven is that it has two swivel lounge chairs that can rotate 180° and move forward/backward, not to mention the ‘B’-shaped lounge bench seat, allowing free space according to the driving/autonomous driving mode.
In Seven’s cabin, the seat is fixed toward the front to suit the purpose when the driver drives it. And the electronic transmission control stick stored in the driver’s seat rises up and transforms into a cockpit shape. On the other hand, in autonomous driving mode, it is transformed into a living room where the whole family can sit around, talk face to face, and relax comfortably. For this reason, a rotating swivel lounge chair is housed in the first and second rows.
There is also a mini-refrigerator to keep drinks cool under the lounge bench seat, and an adjustable console universal island with a 27-inch display is installed in front of the passenger lounge chair. A large 77-inch vision roof display is also placed on the roofline. It is designed as a space where you can comfortably stay or work for a long time. This is a part that gives a glimpse of the concept of a layered home that gives various values to a single space.
“Actually, wouldn’t car camping already include the meaning of a layered home? I think these outdoor activities using mobility will become more convenient in the future. The V2L function of the latest electric vehicles is a good example. Thanks to V2L, you can use various electronic products outside. Wouldn’t our lifestyle be more diverse if we could enjoy various activities, such as cooking, sleeping, leisure, and work wherever we want?” As Han said, the space of the car is expanding to the outside. The electric SUV concept EV9, which Kia unveiled last year, introduced a new seat layout that was not seen in current cars, and reinterpreted the space utilization.
There are three seat layouts for the Kia EV9 depending on the situation: Active Mode, in which all seats in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rows face forward, Pose Mode, in which the 1st and 3rd rows face each other while the 2nd row transforms into a table, and Enjoy Mode, in which you can stretch your legs in the 3rd row and relax while looking at the back. The third row offers enhanced convenience as a magnetic rail for attaching various items such as cup holders, Bluetooth speakers, and a power outlet. Thanks to this convenient design, Enjoy Mode allows you to engage in leisure activities such as sitting in the third row, fishing, or appreciating the surrounding nature.
Han says that the impact of COVID-19 on home interiors is not limited to layered homes. This is because, as concerns about health and hygiene drive our daily lives, the need to create a clean living environment has also increased. “Many people are looking for an air purifier and clothing manager. It means that more and more people are concerned about external pollutants getting on their clothes or entering the house through the air. These products have become household appliances that are used all year round, not just in certain seasons when fine dust is rapidly increasing.”
How will interest in hygiene and changes in living space be reflected in mobility? The introduction of interior sanitary materials and sterilization function by Hyundai Motor Seven may be the answer. Seven provides a clean environment by using functional sterilization materials on the seats and floor carpets that come into contact with the body. In addition, a hygiene air circulation system and UVC sterilization mode are provided to minimize indoor contamination. The hygiene air circulation system is an air-purifying function inspired by the airplane’s air circulation system, which controls the flow of air through vents to keep indoor air fresh. UVC sterilization mode eradicates germs and viruses with UVC UV LEDs located under the seat and on the vehicle door after all occupants have disembarked. The shoe care space under the lounge bench seat is also a distinctive feature of Hyundai Motor Seven. Shoe care always maintains comfortable shoes for passengers through sterilization, deodorization, and drying functions.
Han also said that the home interior trend, which seeks to fill the space with personal taste, is likely to be newly expressed as it meets mobility. “When you have a personal space, you will have a desire to decorate the space according to your taste. Recently, in home interiors, Cluttercore, a maximal home furnishing trend that fills the space with furniture and objects that consumers like, has risen rapidly. Cluttercore is characterized by the bold use of colors, patterns, and textures to express individuality. It can also be expressed as small items such as uniquely designed modular furniture, lighting, objects, and poster frames that emphasize primary colors. Since a car is a moving space, wouldn’t it be possible to emphasize the meaning of individuality with attachable mobility interior accessories and objects?”
Efforts for sustainability are also being actively carried out in the home interior sector - vegan leather sofas, interior materials using recycled materials, eco-friendly furniture, etc., to name a few. According to Han, consumers’ awareness of eco-friendly interiors has also increased recently. “The importance of eco-friendly furniture and interiors has increased as large stores of global furniture companies opened in Korea a few years ago. Unlike some domestic furniture companies that made furniture with materials whose chemical composition had not been verified, they used wood with a formaldehyde emission of 0.5 mg or less, and these products were highly popular with consumers. After that, domestic furniture makers also started to use eco-friendly adhesives in general for making furniture. Thanks to the change in consumer awareness, it is now easy to find not only eco-friendly wooden furniture, but also sofas made of vegan leather, rugs, and cushions made from recycled plastic bottles, etc.”
Hyundai Motor Group is also actively utilizing its eco-friendly material technology accumulated over a long period of time in its latest electric vehicle models. Hyundai Motor’s exclusive electric vehicle, the Ioniq 5, uses paint containing bio-oil extracted from plants such as rape flowers and corn for door trim, door switches, and dashboard finishes. For door armrests and seat covers, fiber made from recycled plastic bottles is used. In addition, bio-PET yarns extracted from sugar cane and corn were used for headliners, seat covers, floor mats, and carpets.
The Kia EV9 Concept further emphasizes eco-friendliness by further strengthening sustainable materials; The EV9’s flooring uses waste fishing nets that pollute the ocean, making it suitable for a concept inspired by the sea and water. And for door trims and seat covers, recycled plastics and wool fibers were used. And, by finishing the seats with vegan leather, which is more ethical than the genuine leather and uses less water in the production process, the environmental impact is minimized.
Lastly, Han expressed high expectations for future mobility interiors with autonomous driving technology and an electrification platform. “I think the freely adjustable space of mobility will become a new area where space designers like me can show their abilities. I hope that future mobility that provides the best possible mobility experience becomes a reality as soon as possible.”
Interviewee. Han Sang-hoon
Words. Lee In-ju
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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