Car designers have a taste for the good life. With suspicious frequency, design studios tend to be in such places as Southern California and the Riviera.
Volvo Car Corp. and Volkswagen AG are riding the trend with two new studios in Barcelona, which is rapidly emerging as a key fashion trendsetter in Europe.
This summer, Volvo will open a new design studio in Barcelona to complement studios in California and Gothenburg, Sweden. The move follows that of the Volkswagen Group, which recently opened a design studio in Sitges, south of Barcelona.
The Spanish city is a good place to draw inspiration for the design of small cars, said Peter Horbury, Volvo vice president and chief designer.
'High-value small cars like Audi A3 and Mercedes A class are very popular in Barcelona,' Horbury said.
The company has rented the top floor of a renovated 1907 modernist building in the heart of downtown Barcelona close to the medieval streets of the Ramblas, a city landmark.
'The idea is to bring in local talent and draw on the inspiration of the city's heritage,' Horbury said.
Establishing studios in sunnier climates has been easier to justify because of advances in telecommunications and computers. California is popular with North American and Japanese automakers, while Toyota's new studio in Nice is due to open this summer.