Heritage Sight : We talk to Ivon van Hulten, Director Interior Design Style at Porsche

By davidkhoo, 04 July 2020

TopGear Singapore (TGS): Have you worked on any other Porsche Heritage Design Edition (or HDE for short) apart from the 992 Targa HDE?

Ivon van Hulten: Yes, we definitely have. This is why we have the advantage and expertise to launch the new 911 Targa Heritage Design Edition. We are already working on the next one and we do hope there will be a couple of customers who will be tempted to collect them all.

(Click HERE to find out more about the Porsche 992 Targa Heritage Design Edition)

TGS: Nostalgia is experiencing a big renaissance, and prices of air-cooled 911s are skyrocketing. How does Porsche see these modern HDEs as tapping into the zeitgeist?

Ivon van Hulten: People tend to go back to things that are familiar to them when there’s a lot of uncertainties in the world. As you’ve mentioned correctly, nostalgia is experiencing a big renaissance now and Porsche is definitely tapping into this as well by bringing things back from the past eras.

However, we do not just want to make a clone of something we did before. Instead, we are doing a modern reinterpretation of the past eras, such as the 50s and early 60s.

TGS: How did you decide on this interior colour combination?

Ivon van Hulten: We did a mood board by laying out several colour combinations, with different fabrics and materials inspired by the 50s and 60s. We finally decided on the current direction because we thought it will be cool to do a reinterpretation of the past.

For example, the current red colour of the exterior is a Pascha Red we added in the early 50s. From 1950 to 1953, we had the colour Pascha Red which looks great with the beige colour. In the early days of the 356, Porsche used to have similar colours like beige.

We do not just want to make a clone of something we did before. Instead, we are doing a modern reinterpretation of the past eras, such as from the 50s and early 60s.

TGS: What other elements were considered that didn't make it to production?

Ivon Van Hulten: As designers, we'd like to offer a wide range of colours or ideas. However, we also need to narrow our ideas down and make sure that the project will be crystallised at the end of the day. While we will love to do more for 992 Targa Heritage Design Edition, we are very happy with the outcome.

TGS: Was a fabric plaid/houndstooth/chequered pattern ever considered for this? Also, the 997 Sport Classic had a beautiful retro-inspired execution. Unfortunately, it was built in very low quantities, so only 250 owners got to enjoy this. Was an evolution of its leather/woven yarn interior trim also considered for the 992 HDE?

Ivon van Hulten: Yes, we did consider those patterns during our initial brainstorm process. Our goal has always been to add more lifestyle to the brand – the idea was to bring back certain themes from the past and take on a modern interpretation.

We looked into the different eras, from the 40s all the way to the 80s, to nail down the concepts for each decade. We then decided to focus on the 50s and early 60s, which ultimately led us to conclude that corduroy was the best fit.

However, we do have plans to bring in the other fabrics, such as the houndstooth and chequered pattern, at a later point in time – this already gives you a hint that there are more cool things that will be coming from us!

TGS: There is over 70 years of Porsche history to call upon, so it must be difficult deciding what to pick/drop. How is this decided?

Ivon van Hulten: It’s always about teamwork. We work with different designers and other teammates to brainstorm for ideas. My role serves as the art director which is to steer my team to the right ideas and discussing it with the wider team. There is a lot of people involved in the decision-making process and it is definitely not by me alone.

TGS: What are your favourite Porsche models? (both past and present)

Ivon van Hulten: For me, I love the G model from the past, which is one of the greatest car icons out there. Today, I would say the 992 and the Taycan.

Our Porsche fans are not your typical customers as they are very knowledgeable about our cars. They know our products very well, from the colour, history, all the way down to the smallest details like the diameter of the screw.

TGS: Today, the difficulty is combining retro-infused aesthetics with cabins that are becoming increasingly digital. How do you reconcile this to create a cabin that isn't too 'poseur', and is modern without feeling 'old'? For instance, even the Fuchs-look rims have been evolved in the 992 for a more modern look.

Ivon van Hulten: Yes, I think that is one of the main challenges of modern design. For us at Porsche, it is important to find the right balance between making sure our interiors and cars are modern while maintaining our fantastic heritage. To do so, we try to do a modern reinterpretation of certain themes from the past. It is a great advantage for us as there are many competitors out there who do not possess such a rich heritage.

For example, if we look at modern houses – while there are furniture equipped with the newest technology, there are also furniture from the mid-century which blend very well together to create a cool combination. This is a modern combination by itself, and I thought it is great to use the strength of the Porsche brand and bring a couple of features from the past to make our current cars even more modern.

TGS: Knowing that Porsche purists are a tough bunch to please, were you worried about the results and how the 992 Targa HDE would be received?

Ivon van Hulten: Yes, definitely. We are very happy to see the positive results and reactions from our customers when the 992 Targa Heritage Design Edition was launched.

While it’s a great honour to be able to design for Porsche, it is also a challenge to make sure our fans will be able to relate to our new launches. Our Porsche fans are not your typical customers as they are very knowledgeable about our cars. They know our products very well, from the colour, history, all the way down to the smallest details like the diameter of the screw.

To ensure that our final product is a credible heritage-designed car that is modern and not just a copy of our past, we consulted with various experts such as our colleagues at the Porsche Museum, who are dedicated to Porsche’s rich heritage. They were able to provide good insights that were very helpful to the entire design process.

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