BMW, Polestar Designers Say Big Screens Could Be on the Way Out

At some point in the past decade, huge screens became synonymous with luxury. However, they might have already peaked.

byMay 5, 2022 8:58 AM
BMW, Polestar Designers Say Big Screens Could Be on the Way Out
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When GPS navigation became commonplace in cars, there was suddenly a need for fully fledged graphical screens in cars. Over time, everything from HVAC controls to the radio became tied up in these screens, which evolved into the infotainment systems we're familiar with today. There's been an arms race as manufacturers fight to have the biggest and prettiest screen on the market, but top designers say that this era may be drawing to a close.

The comments come from a live stream hosted by Car Design News, discussing the luxury car interior of the future. The event brought together some of the best and brightest to talk about trends in the industry, including design leads from BMW, Polestar, and more. Moderator James McLachlan raised a viewer's question on vehicle interior design: "Today, premium luxury and UX seems to be synonymous with the big screen, will it still be the case tomorrow?" He added, "Have we reached Peak Screen?"

Blended screens that span from the instrument cluster area to the center dash have become popular in recent years. Credit: BMW

Head of BMW i Interior Design Matthias Junghanns had plenty to say on the matter. "Is it the big screen that counts? I'm personally convinced that these black glass surfaces in the car interiors are... we will leave that behind, sooner or later," said Junghanns. The designer cited a belief that the future will deliver new designs "where you have all the intelligence of your car at your fingertips, but interfaces that just appear when you need them, and when you want them."

Conny Blommé, interior design manager at Polestar, had similar thoughts on the matter. "Everything has its peak, and probably screens have," he said. "Most of the time, you're traveling in a car, and you enjoy the view more than you enjoy the screens."

As recently as CES 2021, many automakers were still proudly showing off bigger and fancier infotainment designs with what felt like acres of screen real estate. Interestingly, though, a handful of recent concepts have featured more smoothly integrated screens, often blending neatly into the instrument area and center of the dash.

Of course, the comments of two designers aren't representative of the entire industry. However, they show that the "big screen is king" design ethos isn't universally subscribed to in the industry as of late, and there's some feeling from leading professionals that there may be a move to smaller displays or other interface paradigms. We've seen similar murmurings from companies as diverse as Jaguar and Honda as well in recent years, so don't be surprised if the screen wars abate in due course.

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