DEARBORN - During the Lincoln Design Center opening Thursday, Mark Fields, executive vice president, Ford Motor Company; President, The Americas, said that Lincoln’s reinvention has a “head and a heart.”
The brand’s reinvention is based on careful research and creating dynamic vehicles inside the all-new dedicated studio – the first for Lincoln in more than four decades. But, it is also about connecting with its new target customers in an emotional way.
More than 50 journalists from all over the country got a behind-the-scenes look into the head and heart of Lincoln during the chic and successful grand opening of the brand’s incubator for ideas and innovation.
Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, explained Lincoln’s approach to creating its vehicle and the importance of the role of the new Design Center, which is in the heart of the Product Development Center.
“We created the Lincoln Design Studio to create a place for collaboration between our designers, engineers, our product program teams, the whole cross-functional team that works together to deliver that holistic Lincoln experience,” said Nair.
J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer stressed the importance of design to Lincoln’s success.
Mays also mentioned the definition of design— “the combination of style and engineering”, and Lincoln’s distinct style language.
“When I think about Lincoln, I think about heart, soul, warmth and humanity,” he said. “And, we tie innovation and style in a nice little bow that is going to be compelling to the customer.”
Lincoln’s director of Design, Max Wolff, gave an overview on the design studio’s layout, which houses 150 designers, craftspeople and engineers solely dedicated to Lincoln.
It was a priority to “fit interior and exterior design teams into space because often they are two separate work streams with two different sensibilities,” said Wolff.
Wolff says having everyone under one roof - from clay modelers and engineers to interior and exterior designers - allows the team to “collaborate on one harmonious vehicle.”
Guests from publications like House Beautiful and Complex magazine to Automotive News enjoyed a tour of the new studio with Lincoln’s design leaders serving as guides: Soo Kang, interior Design chief; Darrell Behmer, exterior Design chief; and Susan Swek, group chief designer, Color & Materials Design. Tour highlights included the color and trim display, the interior design process and craftsmanship and the 2013 MKZ milling and sculpting area.
Following the tour of the 36,544-square-foot design space, Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Sales and Service, talked about the new Lincoln experience. He emphasized that the brand is trying to connect with a very specific group of consumers— “We’d rather have a few people love us than everybody like us.”
The brand wants people to fall in love with the overall experience from the dealership to ownership. Farley compared it to a “neighborhood tailor” who knows everything about you — what you like, and what you dislike. It’s more than just coming into the showroom and buying a car: it’s personal.
Farley spoke of the brand’s aspirations to become like a notable safari tour service he researched a couple of years ago. “People came for the animals and fell in love with the guides,” he said.
Highlighting the event was a panel bringing together thought-leaders from several design disciplines. Wolff was joined by Todd Bracher, industrial design; Marc Kushner, architect; and Timo Weiland, fashion design. Fred Bernstein, noted design critic and journalist, served as moderator.
The panel compared and contrasted their different design sensibilities and answered questions. They discussed innovation and the influences each of their industries has on the others.
Wolff, for example, compared some of the uses of LED lighting on the new 2013 MKZ to Bracher’s work, “Lightfalls” and “Virtual LED” system –a fusion of Bracher’s creative vision driven by 3M technology. It creates the image of multiple LED bulbs; it is actually only one.
For more on the Lincoln Design Center, checkout the below articles:
• Q&A with Lincoln's Director of Design, Max Wolff
• From Idea to Sketch to Clay to Metal: How a Vehicle Comes to Life in the Lincoln Studio
• Lincoln Design Center Opening Marks New Milestone in Brand’s Reinvention