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 Q&A with Lincoln's Director of Design, Max Wolff

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DEARBORN - As Lincoln continues its reinvention, Max Wolff is at the helm of the design studio that will create world-class vehicles for a new generation of luxury customers.
Today, Lincoln dedicates its new design center, inviting media in for the first time to see the new facility. They will hear from senior executives and the Lincoln Design team about how this investment is key to the reinvention of Lincoln.
Wolff, 40, Lincoln’s director of Design, has been designing and drawing cars for most of his life. His aptitude for creating coupled with his natural curiosity served as the catalyst for his career as a designer.
The first vehicle created by Wolff and the dedicated Lincoln team in the new design studio, the all-new midsize sedan, the 2013 MKZ, will be on sale later this year.
The MKZ will introduce a new reinvigorated brand that has moved away from traditional luxury cues and embraced a new refined and elegant premium experience.
Wolff brings a unique voice to Lincoln with distinct ideas and thoughts built from his international experience in Australia and Asia before coming to North America.
Q. How old were you when you discovered that you are an artist? And, when did you realize 'Hey, not only do I enjoy doing this, but I could probably make a living at it?’
A. I have loved drawing ever since I was a little kid. My mom has things from when I was eight…I was brought up to be inquisitive. So, when my dad bought me a car magazine when I was about 12, it clicked that I could have some sort of career designing cars.
Q. You graduated from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And, from there you worked your way up through the automotive ranks and earned lots of experience both internationally and here in North America with Cadillac. Lincoln just announced that it will be sold in China in 2014. How important do you think an international perspective is to a luxury brand?
A. The most successful luxury brands are successful internationally whether that is automotive, fashion or product design. I think some sort of international outlook is important. However, we want to get ourselves established in North America because I think it is important that you are successful in your home base. But, we want to have an eye out to be a more international brand.
Q. What is luxury today? The world has changed so dramatically over the last five years. What role does it play in 2012 and beyond?
A. One kind of luxury is self-expression. It is not something that you do to show everybody else, and I think that’s a significant change you see across all sort of facets of luxury now. We’re seeing less of that sort of gaudiness or showmanship associated with luxury. There is still that sort of ‘bling-bling’ luxury, but there is also this movement to something more restrained.
Q. How does the new Lincoln MKZ point the way forward for Lincoln?
A. We wanted the new MKZ to be inviting and approachable. We moved away from traditional luxury cues and complex designs. We came up with something warm that is rich, yet still intentionally restrained.
Q. What role does the new Lincoln design studio play in the evolution of the brand and taking it into the future?
A. Being able to fit the entire design team in one space is very important. They are often separate because they all have different workstreams and sensibilities. But, everyone can learn from each other. So, I think having everyone in the studio together is vital as we evolve the brand and focus on what Lincoln should be.



10/18/2012 3:00 PM