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What is Car Interior Design?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Car interior design refers to the looks and placement of the features inside a vehicle. Car companies have a head interior designer that manages a team of people that follows the head designer's concept to complete the inside of a vehicle. A functional, yet attractive interior is an important selling feature for all vehicles, but buyers of expensive luxury cars especially expect well-designed car interiors.

Interior design for cars includes everything from the type of fabric used to cover the seats to the location of gauges on the instrument panel. Safety must be a prime concern in car interior design. Car interior designers must be sure all elements follow safety laws and guidelines. For example, carpeting must be low pile enough so that brake and gas pedals can't catch in it. Not considering such an important design detail could lead to drivers having serious car accidents.

In terms of the look and feel of the car's interior design, it should coordinate well with the vehicle's outer style and overall price point. For instance, a car buyer looking at economy family cars would expect to find a basic, purely practical interior, while a person seeking to buy a trendy sports car would expect an innovative car interior design in a sporty, modern style. An expensive luxury car wouldn't sell well if it had cheap vinyl seats rather than seating made from quality leather or a rich fabric. No matter what type of car, vehicle designers must keep their ideas in line with the times. Decades ago, small ashtrays located on the armrests in car interiors were much in demand, while today many car buyers prefer good cup holders.

No detail can be overlooked when it comes to car interior design — especially where safety is concerned. The center console and instrument panels must be easily accessible to the driver. A global positioning system (GPS) used to navigate the car to find a desired location must be mounted on the dash board to be easily seen by the driver. The location of the mechanism to turn the windshield wipers should be easy for the driver to reach. Even small decisions such as whether the air conditioning vents are better left stationary or positioned to swivel for increased cooling effects on the driver and passengers must be made by head designers of car interior design.

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Discussion Comments
By empanadas — On Nov 08, 2010

@ellaesans - I think interior design ideas can come from literally anywhere. I look mostly to and at the architecture found within a space, but I'm not sure that you would be able to incorporate or translate a car's interior into a home's interior. I bet it would be a lot of fun to try though! I have never seen a gray leather couch, really, and I think that any room designed after a car's interior would probably end up being very modern.

By ellaesans — On Nov 08, 2010

This was very enlightening. I own an Interior Design Business and have never once thought about the aesthetics or all of the thought that goes into designing the inside of a car. I really like that certain aspects were pointed out and will most likely pay better attention to the inside of cars from now on. In fact, I am a little inspired to look harder and find ways to incorporate the aesthetics and ease of access in my own designs. It seems like a great idea!

By win199 — On Nov 08, 2010

I must admit that I read the title of this article and immediately picture purple shag carpeting all over a low rider truck. Please don't ask me what I was thinking! After reading, though, I am glad that I better understand the interior architecture and all the thought that goes behind designing the inside of a vehicle now. Thanks for the great information!

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