The Living Room On Wheels: An Interview With Nissan

We here at Unplggd really love our home electronics and so forth, but what happens when your home is more mobile? In this day and age, we spend so much time in our cars that it would seem that we should start outfitting them with the same technology and living accomodations that we are used to at home. Ok, we are not talkiing about the rebirth of RV's exactly, but we are talking about taking all of our usable space seriously... or not so seriously, as would be the case with the all new 2009 Cube from Nissan. We caught up with Bruce Campbell, VP of Nissan Design America recently and asked him about the new Living Room on Wheels...
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As you can see here, Nissan is advertising the Cube as a living room on wheels with an advertising campaign that highlights interior details that draw direct influence from home interior design, including "sofa-style" seating, shag rug accessories as an option, and mood lighting in 24 colors to bright interior accents.

The Interview:

Unplggd: When did boxy become cool? Certainly it's been done in different eras- the 80's come to mind, but when did it become the trend that it is today?

Bruce: The 80’s definitely can coin the “boxy” era (square and hard lines)….but, today’s expression is something like a “round – box” (friendlier and less aggressive). The 2nd generation Nissan Cube is a good example, along with the iPhone and many examples in modern architecture.

Unplggd: I am sure there are earlier examples of this but I remember what an uproar the first Mitsubishi Eclipse caused by having an offset "lump" on the hood back in the 90's; how is the asymmetry of the Nissan Cube being received and what do you see happening in the future in regards to asymmetry? (Also, is the asymmetry opposite in RHD {Right Hand Drive} countries?)

Bruce: It has a clear signature, with a memorable image. Functionally, it is perceived very well. Drivers understand there is great rear vision - where you need it. This motif is so powerful, it is applied very carefully, too much and it becomes a cartoon. Yes, the asymmetry will be reversed for RHD.

Unplggd: How do you see this car influencing future models? Let's say it does well, and frankly, how could it not... then how much and what type of DNA will be spread out to other models?

Bruce: The Cube is full of “wit” and makes a simple/clear statement. These elements are a couple of the elements that are found in all Nissan Designs – from the GTR (with a unique “kink” in the sail-panel) to the front aspect of the Murano.

Unplggd: When was the Cube conceived and how early on did the interior become more geared towards spending a lot of time inside?

Bruce: The most recent version of the Cube began about 2.5 years ago. The concept of a “room on wheels” was a key element from the beginning. The interior design is intended to be an oasis and a social space.

Unplggd: Following up on that; why is the interior the way it is? The ripples on the ceiling, the freeform stitching on the seats, the unusual cupholders, the rear seats... maybe talk a bit about what makes the interior special and how this fits in with your program.

Bruce: Most of the elements that you noted were deeply considered. Everything has meaning, the ripples can represent sound waves, or serine ripples in a pond. The whole design processed was turned upside-down. There was an attitude of “what-if?”…..

Unplggd: What do you see people doing in their cars in the next ten years?

Bruce: More and less activities…………more using their ears- listening to information, communication and entertainment, less things with their fingers (texting , controlling, manipulating), more relaxing, less eating and drinking, more calming, less road rage (changing lanes to get ½ a car ahead).

Unplggd: How can the Cube play a role in improving workflow or social interaction?

Bruce:The Cube provides a calming driving experience (great vision, comfortable and roomy, simple-clear controls), with the hope that when you reach your destination – you will be fresh to tackle work, or engage in great conversations.

Unplggd: Right right, multitasking=bad- must focus on the road... wouldn't want to encourage people to break the law:) ...What kinds of electronics are being incorporated into the Cube that might not have been present in cars before?

Bruce: At this time – nothing out of the ordinary, due to the aggressive price point. Yes, you can still plug in your iPod/iPhone and place it on the recess on the IP, and access maps and information – using your NAVI.

Unplggd: How does the interior of the Cube inspire a casual vibe?

Bruce: Soft, friendly – rhythmic forms that set the “tone” of the interior. Flexible and convertible space to accommodate your activities.

Unplggd: In what way did small apartments or homes inspire the design of the Cube?

Bruce: Modern Living Room on Wheels – was the one of the key descriptors (for the design development). This was to be an extension of your modern life- for you and your friends – who are traveling with you.

Unplggd: Any hybrids/ high efficiency powerplants coming down the pike?

Bruce: As related to Cube, nothing beyond the standard 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine at his time.

Unplggd: Does this car share a platform with any other Nissans?

Bruce: Yes, Cube resides on Nissan’s B-platform which is shared with a number of other Nissan’s, including the Versa, March, Micra and Tiida to name a few.

Unplggd: How many different markets is this planned for and what is the order of rollout?

Bruce: Cube will roll out in many markets in addition to the U.S, including Canada, Japan and European Countries.

Unplggd: What would you like people to know about this car that they might not have heard elsewhere?

Bruce: In a frenetic world, driving the Cube might put the concept of “time” into a new perspective…….and a nice smile on your face.

Thanks very much Mr. Campbell!

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