Car design is going through something of a renaissance, particularly in the area of interior design. Automakers know that successful design contributes significantly to the competitiveness of a product as emotional and brand-differentiating design attracts a market of increasingly design-literate car buyers. It’s one of the keenest indicators of a vehicle’s future sales success.
This trend has seen automotive suppliers becoming more and more involved in the design development of automotive components and systems, opening new possibilities as well as challenges for suppliers.
Aunde Group is such a supplier. Evolved from a textile manufacturer to a systems supplier to the global automotive industry, Aunde has transformed from a single enterprise to an international group of companies incorporating three brands – Aunde, Isringhausen and Fehrer.
The Group has more than 100 years of experience producing a broad product portfolio including spun solution dyed PES yarns, technical textiles, textile and leather seat covers, complete seating systems – for buses, trucks, construction equipment and LCVs – and armrests, consoles, composite components, storage modules, seat foams and technical springs.
With an international design and development team of more than 500 engineers and designers working in 25 countries, Aunde Group is able to call upon a huge amount of expertise. Through collaboration, international team workshops and innovation forums, this capacity has enabled Aunde Group to develop innovative design concepts with its customers to realise advanced, cutting-edge solutions to modern 21st-century automotive design and engineering challenges.
Audi, BMW, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, FIAT, Volkswagen and Tesla are just some of the customers Aunde’s designers work with to develop leading-edge products for specific applications. The design development of composite parts including the rear-seat bench structure in the BMW i3 and the super-lightweight roofing system for the Smart Fortwo produced from composite materials are just two examples of recent applications. Other premium products include intelligent consoles, and fully electric pneumatic seats with integrated safety belts.
This requirement has led Aunde Group to undertake tri-annual design tours, travelling the globe to its worldwide customer bases to share creative and innovative ideas and developments within or near to the OEM design centres, including products from ‘yarn to driver experience’.
Called the Aunde Group DesignLAB, Aunde’s team travels exclusively to evaluate how best it can meet the needs of its customers using the fundamental capabilities of its Design/Development Network Aunde (DNA) of design studios located in North and South America, South Africa, Europe, Asia – including China and India – and Australia, in both industrial heartlands and the urban centres of Shanghai, Paris, Melbourne, São Paolo, Turin and Barcelona.
“The workshop space will be divided into four areas: Speed, Space, S-Cape and Scuba,” explains William Franke, Colour and Material Design Manager, Aunde Group. “Each demonstrates different technologies, design and craftsmanship to enable innovative ideas to flourish and become production possibilities”.
“The presentation of ideas and product concepts are made exclusively to the OEM design and development teams and associated departments, in or close to their design centres with the goal to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with the aim of building advanced design and development partnerships.”
TexGreen, which utilises sustainable materials with enhanced passive comfort, and TexBlue, which uses recycled materials including PET bottles and carbon fibre, are now in production with leading automotive brands as a result of the Aunde Group Design and Innovation events.
“This ability to work with customers to engineer surprising and innovative combinations of new materials is possibly Aunde Group’s biggest strength,” explains Franke. “It can lead to real and tangible design and competitive advantage for our customers.”
The DesignLAB will be taken to all of the Aunde Group’s international automotive customer design and development centres across four continents over the next 18 months.