Volvo’s design manager on how new material Nordico reduces the CO2 footprint in all their electric cars

The head of the design team, Robin Page, also has more on the company’s recent report on the rise of conscious design.
January 26, 2022

The UK-born Gothenburg-based Robin Page is head of design and responsible for leading the Volvo design team. The car company recently created a collaboration with 3.1 Phillip Lim (pictured above) based on what Page describes as a common philosophy into the importance of future luxurious sustainable materials.

— We have developed a new material called Nordico, which is based on a blend of recycled PET bottles, biomaterials, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry. It has similar properties to high-quality leather in terms of feel and touch. In terms of emissions, it has a significantly lower CO2 footprint (2.4kg CO2/m2) compared to leather, which means it is 74% lower than that of leather materials. Its CO2 footprint is about 27% lower than that of a standard fossil-based vinyl from the same company. The reduction comes from using recycled PET backing instead of primary PET (9%) and using wood waste as raw material (major impact, 18%). It is also 15-40% lighter than leather, depending on where it is used in the car. The weight saving varies across car models — about 3-6 kilos may be saved in each car, tells Page. He continues:

— We then worked with 3.1 Phillip Lim to create a bag design that works with this new material and embraces our common design principles into a beautiful bag that would sit in harmony in a Volvo interior. We created a limited number of bags and they’re more of an inspirational piece and not available to purchase.

Volvo has also created a report with facts, data, and insights from experts from different industries.

— We made it to create a conversation around a very important topic, which is how the rise of conscious design will fundamentally transform our society. My personal reflection on the report is how quickly conscious design is developing across the different industries and that it is not only ethical and important for designers to think in this way, but it also makes good business sense if long-term sustainable and circular thinking is applied to the creation of all products, Page concludes.

5 takeaways from Volvo Cars’ report The rise of conscious design

— Global demand for new textile fibres is forecast to increase by 150% by 2050 (source: Axfoundation)

— Almost a third of Gen Z (30%) and Millennials (32%) in the US say they’d pay more for products that have the least negative impact on the environment (McKinsey & Co)

— Germany is home to the most vegans in Europe, with the number having doubled from 1.3 million in 2016 to 2.6 million in 2020 — a total of 3.2% of the population (Veganz)

— 83% of Swedish consumers say that animal welfare is important to them — a higher percentage than in any other country in Europe (Welfare Quality)

— In the UK, younger generations are significantly more likely to follow a meat-free diet, with a fifth of Gen Z already doing so (20%) and a further 26% planning to adopt one in 2021 (Finder).

The full report is available here