Steve Mattin will soon be relocating to his new home – Russia. The former Vice President and Design Director of Volvo Cars has been tapped by Avtovaz Lada to lead its design operations into the future, designing a new era of passenger vehicles for the 40-year-old brand. He will start his new role October 1 this year.
"I'm happy to get back into the industry and be creative again," Mattin told Car Design News in an exclusive interview. "I'm planning for the future and open to the challenges of recreating the brand. It's got a fairly long heritage and is a key player in the Russian market. It's an interesting time."
The British-born designer will be based at the company's headquarters in Togliatti, where all the design, engineering and production for Avtovaz takes place. The company currently has the capacity to produce 1.2m vehicles.
Opening a new design center in Moscow is one of the first tasks on his list of priorities, as is hiring a team of new people. "We're going to open a small studio in Moscow this Autumn," Mattin said, "It will serve as a creative center."
Mattin, a graduate of Coventry University, explained that he came about the new role after being contacted through Renault at the beginning of the year regarding a new opening at Lada, part of the Renault-Nissan alliance. He began speaking with Anthony Grade and later Laurens van den Acker – the two have known one another since both worked for brands once owned by Ford. "We would get together for program reviews and feedback to ensure the brands were aligned but separated," Mattin said.
A meeting with Igor Komarov, president of Avtovaz, followed at the Geneva motor show this year, Mattin said: "The meeting progressed and developed, and I went for a visit to the main plant six weeks later."
Mattin's career has been well documented (read all about it in our previous interview with the designer). He has worked on several seminal projects over the course of his career, both at Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen – where he worked for 17 years – and at Volvo in Gothenburg, but his tenure as Volvo's design chief was cut short when Peter Horbury returned as the brand's Vice President of Design.
Since then, Mattin has been working as an independent design consultant on several branding projects as well as reviewing programs and projects for an Asian OEM. He has also been teaching at Umea University in Sweden, where he still currently resides.
"I'm looking forward to a new culture and a new part of life," Mattin told CDN. "It's going to be an exciting but challenging experience."
Interview: Steve Mattin, Design Director, Volvo Cars
Design Development: Volvo S60
Design Development: Volvo C30
Design Review: Mercedes Vision Grand Sports Tourer
Who's Where: Peter Horbury replaces Steve Mattin as Vice President of Design at Volvo Cars