Car Designer

How did you first become interested in design? Was there a moment when you knew or did it happen gradually?

Interestingly enough, I was not originally interested in design. My high school art classes actually drove me towards sketching and developing shapes. I laugh now, but it also framed my opinion that designers were the “black sheep” of the art world. But “form follows function” was a no-go for my ideological mindset that “art exists because of itself” and my collegiate study of industrial design was the moment when I finally crossed over to the design side. It was the idea of semiotic connection (not only in words but also in sculptures and form) combined with function that made it interesting for me. For example, I like having the ability to create a new hierarchy of functions or a new environment for functions that impact how people interact with or react to something.

What sort of design work did you start out doing? Was it a lot of different types of design or were you more focused?

Product design, specifically some products for a hospital and some cameras, was the first design work that I did intentionally.

What sort of design education did you receive? If you were self-taught, how did you go about doing it? If you went to design school, what are some of the important things you learned there that you still use today?

I studied transportation design at Pforzheim University where art, anthropology, semiotic art, and aesthetics were my favorite subjects.  I appreciated the environment at Pforzheim as it allowed me to be surrounded by creative people with different directions (fashion, product, exhibition, game and many other kind of design fields) as provided a solid overview and an inspiring environment to take my first steps in the design world.  After a design student’s third term, Pforzheim requires an transportation design internship which is where I was introduced to car design. It was during my first internship with Volkswagen that I learned what car design meant and developed a passion for cars.

How did you first become involved in concept car design? 

     The same way most designers get their start: I participated in internal design-competitions.

As a designer, when you were first starting out, how did you try to build a name for yourself? Did you market your own work? How?

 To be honest, despite the today’s trend of having a blog or online portfolio, I have never felt a need to do that. Perhaps I should have dedicated more to it, but many of my sketches for the Iosis Max have been released by Ford and shared publically so they have still ended up online.  That said, I do post some art-sketches on Facebook occasionally.

You recently designed the face for Ford Evos, tell me about that process. How long did it take? How do you start? Where do you look for inspiration? Was it difficult? 

  Designing the face of a brand doesn’t happen overnight. Typically good ideas just come straight to you at unexpected times, and it is your job to take the next step to develop them further.  In a sense, you have to help them “grow up”.  Developing a face for a car that represents the future of a brand with a strong history like Ford requires significant research of past trends as well as awareness of the brand vision because all of those elements need to be captured in the design – the face of a car is one of the main attributes that consumers will associate the brand with.

Like every job, there must be some benefits and some drawbacks to your line of work. What about design do you love? And what might you change about the industry? 

    Once in a while my college friends and I will be working at the computer or taping a model and be struck with the reality that we get paid for designing cars!  It is a feeling that is easy to forget, but really nice to realize and be reminded of. The knowledge that you are developing, creating and improving a product creating something is amazing because you know that it will impact someone’s life.  Even though I’m not a doctor, I like to think my contribution to design helps people smile a bit more often.

  Overall the industry is driven by profit, which is fine, but I think a bit more risk would give a the industry a chance to create something extraordinary (similar to what Steve Jobs did with Apple products) .The ability to think and develop out of the box ideas, where you might fail but also might create something truly new and unique would establish a more revolutionary spirit for our time.

Lastly, do you have any advice for young designers who want to follow in your footsteps? What should they know that might help them succeed down the road?

  • Delete the words “good enough”, “finished”, “done, not so bad”, and “interesting” from of your vocabulary. To push the boundaries you have to go further!
  • Verbal design is not competitive with a sketch or model.
  • Stay individual, but don’t believe that you are Mr. Gandini himself from day one. The design industry needs to realize your talent on its own.
  •  Very talented designers can still learn a lot from more experienced professionals (especially modelers). Take advantage of the opportunities you have to learn from them.