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Fiat Tipo DGT dash.jpg

Fiat Tipo interior

How UI design can define the wider interior theme

The 1988 Fiat Tipo was always the bridesmaid: it replaced the Bertone designed Strada, a defining first generation hatchback with distinct theme and expressive detailing (if still in many ways an unsung hero of Italian design); and it sat in the Fiat range above Guigiaro’s Uno that was critically and commercially a big design. But the Tipo elevated its more recognised siblings’ rationalist Italian design approach further, particularly in its interior, in a way we now see rarely.

Designed by the proliferate Ercole Spada during his time at I.D.E.A Institute, the Tipo debuted with a dashboard / instrument panel (IP) design that on higher specification versions featured an exclusively digital display. Going further than the Opel Astra, Chevrolet Corvette and Audi Quattro had done a few years previously, the Tipo not only had pure digital display, its entire design theme stepped from this new approach with horizontal slots in which shallow recessed screens were shrouded to ensure they could be seen even in bright light. This linear and rationalist approach was consistent with the rest of the interior, and exterior, as was its packaging design that realised more space in its footprint than any contemporary competitor. 

Today digital instruments are increasingly the norm, but the vernacular of the interior rarely steps from them as emphatically as it did with the Tipo. Whilst it’s from another time, and features displays a long way from the TFT and OLED screens of today, the original Fiat Tipo interior still shows better than most contemporary designs how interior design can more closely embrace User Interface (UI) design as a central theme.