DETROIT — Automakers use a variety of methods to insert plastics into their lush interiors while avoiding that dreaded “plastic-y” look — painting, chrome-plating, leather wrapping. General Motors' Buick division has found a new approach, and it doesn't involve covering up the material.
Buick's newly-debuted Avenir concept car includes a large polymer dash panel that's making waves — literally. The panel, glossy and smooth to the touch, is designed with a deep wave pattern carved into the back of the material. It has the appearance of depth while the surface remains flat.
“We took inspiration from the way that the ocean meets the shoreline … and also when you get deeper into the ocean, you get this depth and drop-off,” said Rebecca Waldmeir, a color and trim design manager for GM in North America.
Designers also took cues from how furniture and jewelry makers combine materials like poured glass and Lucite with other materials, she added.
The concept car is a result of collaboration between studios in America and Australia and was built Down Under. Jenny Morgan-Douralis, Waldmeir's counterpart in Australia, said choosing the right material involved “looking at plastic, but not thinking of it as plastic.”
“The pattern comes from behind so you see through it … there's a very smooth, clean surface but behind, it emerges, and it's got that depth and the movement,” she said. “It's very clear, very clean, and in contrast to the wood [in the car's interior].”
The wave pattern is repeated in the center console and in other design details throughout the vehicle.
“The surface, too, is very polished,” Waldmeir noted. “That detail that was put into the plastic really gave it that luxury aspect.”