DMTV Milkshake: Jeff Hammoud on How Rivian Balances Luxury + Grit

04.24.24 | By
DMTV Milkshake: Jeff Hammoud on How Rivian Balances Luxury + Grit

You know you’re winning the design game when your brand’s followers spend hours on YouTube guessing the color palette of your upcoming launches – and as videos like “ALL The RIVIAN COLORS Compared!!!” attest, the electric vehicles company has earned close and constant assessment of its most minute design elements. Irvine, California-based Rivian made its name with the launches of the R1T (a truck) and R1S (an SUV). They’ve expanded upon that vocabulary with the March reveals of the lower-priced R2, R3, and R3X – adventure vehicles that, Jeff Hammoud (Chief Design Officer at Rivian) says, were designed to get dirty. (And clean easily.) “We’re an EV brand that creates adventure vehicles – so when you think of what adventure means, adventure can mean many things,” he says. “We looked at the equipment and the gear that people use and really tried to incorporate that into our design language in terms of our form but also the color material usage. One of the things that’s great about lifestyle brands, especially within active lifestyle, is that you can get something that feels very premium, but still invites you to use it and get dirty. That’s really important for us at Rivian. It feels premium, but you’re not afraid to get dirty.” The adventure aesthetic pops up in other, unexpected ways – a carabiner featured on a color materials table, for palette inspiration, ended up influencing the design of a headlight.

Also in this week’s Milkshake, we asked Hammoud what it was like moving from Rivian’s debut vehicles to its new ones. “The R1 was our first vehicle – our handshake with the world, and number two is our second album,” he says. “For the second album, we have to build off of what everybody loved with the first album, but it has to have its own unique character and its own unique feeling.” Part of that was making adjustments influenced by the R2’s lower price point. “With the R1, because of its price point, we were able to get a lot of our cool features and design because we weren’t that restricted on price point as much as we are on R2,” he says. “We want R2 to reach a lot more customers – so we really have to think about what we’re going to say no to, without the car feeling cheaper or diluted, but still having the Rivian brand essence. How far do we push our second product? Do we want it to be completely different, or do we want it to be similar to and build off of what we have? With R2, we purposely made a conscious decision to make it feel like a smaller R1S, but when we showed R3, it showed how we can actually stretch the brand in a very different direction.” For more, tune in!

A person approaches a modern gray suv parked beside dense green shrubbery

A person's hand plugging a charger into an electric vehicle's charging port, indicated by a glowing green light

A man loading luggage into the trunk of a modern silver suv parked by lush greenery.

A teal suv parked on a grassy area with hills in the background during twilight

A person in a helmet loading bicycles onto a rack attached to the back of an suv in a mountainous area at dusk

Interior view of a car with a digital dashboard display, steering wheel with logo, and tan leather seats, facing a wooded road

details of car's dashboard with the name Rivian

details of tan car seat

back of passenger seat in a car with a blanket rolled and strapped in

Interior of a modern car showing rear seats folded flat, increasing cargo space, with a view of the front dashboard

A modern electric suv parked on grass with a backdrop of green hills under a cloudy sky

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators, and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life, and passions.