DEARBORN - Lincoln is purposefully rebuilding its brand image, and as part of Lincoln's rebirth, designer Max Wolff has joined Lincoln to lead the Lincoln Design team in a new, dedicated Lincoln studio.
Like many on the new Lincoln team, Wolff possesses global experience, including working in Australia, Europe and Asia. The position Down Under isn't surprising given that Wolff is grew up in Australia and is a graduate of Monash University in Victoria. Before moving to Lincoln, Wolff previously worked at General Motors, where he was Design director, Cadillac Exterior.
@Ford caught up with Wolff at the Lincoln design team's current digs in the Dearborn Product Development Center. He shared his insights candidly about working with the new Lincoln team.
@Ford: You used to design for Cadillac. How would you differentiate the Cadillac and Lincoln luxury brands?
MAX: Cadillac is a brand people tend to choose for what it is. It's an externally driven thing. Lincoln is headed a different place. It's the idea of finding something a little off the beaten path and doing something just for you, not because it looks good to somebody else. The new Lincoln luxury is self-expression, not something you do to say, "Hey, look at me, I'm successful." I think the path we're taking is definitely an emerging trend, particularly for luxury buyers.
@Ford: The 2013 Lincoln MKS debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 17. What can you tell us about its new look?
MAX: The first round of MK vehicles, particularly around the front-end, were, in some ways I think, deliberately provocative. The exterior of the new 2013 MKS, people will find a little more refined. The new look visually lowers and widens the car. Plus the new S has an elegant continuous chrome graphic around the grille and headlamps. It's a very nice design element and complements the S's perfect line work and its subtle and refined surfacing.
Inside, the 2013 MKS gets MyLincoln Touch. To work that in, we developed a whole new instrument panel with a new center stack and the capacitive (touch sensitive) controls. The dashboard's shape has now been transformed. It was very linear and horizontal. Now, it's more flowing. The new lines move upwards through the center of the car and then sweep away toward the doors. This is a design theme, a design motive, that you'll see more of in future Lincolns. Beautiful.
@Ford: What does the new 2013 MKS say about where Lincoln design is headed?
MAX: At this point, I can't give you specifics without giving away too much. But I can tell you that the new MKS is an evolutionary step that's headed in the right direction. What you'll see at the auto show in in Detroit in January is a fairly substantial departure, a much bigger movement.
@Ford: Are you excited about the new dedicated Lincoln design studio space that you’ll be moving into?
MAX: The new studio is so important. We've got 30 passionate designers and twice that many design engineers and sculptors working together. I think, as much as anything, the new studio is an effort to get us together in one spot that is conducive to collaboration about ideas and thoughts. For us, that's really important because we are in the process of building a design language and product language that ties in with our customer focus.
@Ford: In terms of design, do you have a favorite Lincoln?
MAX: It has to be the '61 Continental. What an amazing car, it's amazing as much for what it didn't do as for what it did. It was just such a clean statement of proportion, design and detailing. And, of course, it had amazing doors which nobody else had. Plus, it's just cool, super cool.