Thomas Ingenlath is probably the most talented and influential car designer you’ve never heard of. Yesterday, making his first public appearance as the head of design at Volvo, he also unleashed a brilliant – if politely delivered – broadside against the prevailing Germanic view of luxury and premium design language in the global car industry.
Ingenlath and his team (including interior designer Robin Page, recently recruited from Bentley) rolled out the Volvo Concept Coupe, a clear signal as to the shape of future Volvos.
Within a few seconds of Ingenlath unveiling the Concept Coupe at Volvo’s studios, the penny dropped: this was classic Ingenlath. Beautifully measured, with big, sophisticated surfaces and restrained and super-tight detailing. A few murmurs about the Audi A5 ran among the gathering. Indeed, maybe this is what the A5 might have looked like if Audi had not cleared out the thinkers behind the ’97 A6 and TT?
I got to know Thomas a little back in 1990-91, when he was a car design post-graduate student at the Royal College of Art. I used to visit friends at the RCA studios and was in awe of Ingenlath’s student work. Sponsored by Audi, he was clearly a rare, possibly even generational, talent.