Life & Culture

Talking Sustainability and Classic Cars with Polestar’s Head of Design

“I wanted to help change the industry to think more sustainably, and I believe you have to do that from within,” says Maximilian Missoni, head of design at Polestar, speaking to Another Man as the company launches its new all-electric car

In Partnership with Polestar.

The Royal College of Art’s vehicle design course has long been seen as one of the most forward-thinking educational and training degree programmes for the automotive industry. Now known as the Intelligent Mobility MA, alumni of the London university course have carried exceptional design skills and ideas into the world of car design. One such alumnus is Maximilian Missoni, head of design at electric vehicle brand Polestar. 2019 has seen Missoni and his wider team reveal Polestar 2: developed alongside Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar’s CEO, the car is the Swedish company’s first entirely electric model. Technological innovation, sustainability and covetable design come together in Polestar’s latest car. 

In the age of climate change and increased needs for environmental sustainability, what can a car company add to the conversation? “Car design and the industry itself are such powerful forces. I wanted to help change the industry to think more sustainably, and I believe you have to do that from within,” says Missoni. The designer sees working at Polestar, a fledgling brand, as an opportunity to engineer change in the world of cars. “That is one of the most exciting aspects of having joined Polestar. Here I have found a home of like-minded individuals, working together to accelerate change and a more sustainable future.” 

Missoni had his early sights set on boats rather than cars, but recognised the greater impact of the automotive industry. “As a teenager I spent all my time drawing,” he remembers. “It started with boats, but soon cars captured my imagination. I was lucky in that I was generally on top of all my subjects, so I didn’t get into too much trouble when teachers found me scribbling instead of paying attention in class.” Just ten years after he graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2002, Missoni joined Volvo (the storied Swedish company owns Polestar) as exterior chief designer, now holding the titles of head of design at Polestar and vice president of exterior design at Volvo.

Polestar, as a young, experimental brand, has allowed Missoni to challenge traditional design concepts. Polestar 2 is rooted in a highly modernised take on Scandinavian design: interiors are crafted from a vegan PVC alternative to leather and feature repurposed wood accents, and its silhouette is a particularly sleek take on the classic sloping fastback shape. Polestar 2’s clean, simple aesthetic belies its myriad technological advancements (the car’s Android-powered ‘infotainment’ system, for example, is the first of its kind and comes with a range of smart services like Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Play Store and Spotify). 

“Its design is polarising and provocative, a clean silhouette, with tight but playful lines that has real presence on the road and truly stands out from the crowd,” says Missoni. “We’ve tried to give it a stance that, while not overtly aggressive, is confident and stylish.” For Missoni, the drive of a car should be “efficient, engaging and dynamic” – just, as he says, like Polestar 2. Befitting the Polestar ethos, Missoni’s own gaze is set firmly towards the future – but he hopes that Polestar cars have the longevity of his own favourite classic designs. “I tend to spend my time looking forward, but of course there are vehicles that really impress – for me the Citroën SM [1970–1975] was one such vehicle. If the Polestar 2 is considered in a similar way in the future – as having sat ahead of design trends – I would be extremely proud.”

Find out more about Polestar 2 here