Brand Dna distilled into a car with athletic, elegant forms, an aesthetic-formal manifesto for the next generation of production models: this is the mission of the Essentia, the concept car presented by Genesis at the New York show and then paraded in the congenial environment of the Concorso d’Eleganza of Villa d’Este. It is there that we meet Luc Donckerwolke, Vice President Hyundai Design and head of Genesis design since 2015, responsible for the project carried forward by his design teams in Korea and Germany. “A new premium brand makes little sense in itself if it doesn’t contribute something new”, says Donckerwolke, who has plenty of experience in the luxury sector given his past as design chief at Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley. “We intend to introduce a new concept of Korean luxury, marked by dynamism and a youthful spirit”.
Having set proportions and silhouette, here are the basic somatic features: “On the front we have an evolution of the Crest Grille, which is something of a noble emblem for the Genesis brand. It is flanked by the Quad Lights, another brand “signature”, four very slender, high-tech horizontal light elements. We want to be innovative and represent that advanced technology expected of Korean products”. The Quad Lights are repeated on the tail and this view also gives advance notice of the shapes and styling cues of future models in the range: “The rear is concave and is characterised by an oval element that combines bumpers and spoilers, which will be fundamental on all Genesis models. We used it for the first time on the GV80 concept unveiled in New York in 2017, which is scheduled to go into production next year”.
Just like the exterior, the interior of the Essentia is marked by formal purity. “Once the theme had been defined, we worked a couple of months just to get rid of elements we considered superfluous, both in the cabin and on the outside,” Donckerwolke points out. “We wanted the geometry to be clear, a good-looking but not aggressive environment, with intuitive interaction. My idea was that you could take one of the seats and put it in the living room. It’s an almost non-automotive more of a domestic interior, the GT must be relaxing, not aggressive like the supercars”.
To speak only of exteriors and interiors, however, would be reductive in the case of the Essentia. “Between these two aspects there is a “grey zone” that usually nobody cares about, then there is an engineer who makes the connection between outer skin and inner skin. Here we decided to make a complete concept, in which the structure of the car becomes a multi-purpose, multifunctional area, for lightness and rigidity”, Donckerwolke explains, lifting the door in whose thickness a honeycomb pattern of considerable aesthetic impact can be seen.
The chromatic combination inside is also unusual, with Cognac brown leather for the front and Oxford Blue leather for the rear seats, “a bit like in the 1930s, when the driver’s seat was covered with sturdier materials while more delicate upholstery was reserved for the passengers”, continues the design chief, who has a weakness for another material used shrewdly on the Essentia, copper. “It is a “warm” material and conducts electricity. In this case it has a two-fold symbolic value: it is an electric car and the official Genesis colours are black and copper”.
The whole project was carried out in record time, Design’s proposal to create an electric concept received the green light last October and in December the design was already defined. Construction took place in Germany between January and April and with the exception of two models of the volumes to show management what they were doing, Genesis designers worked completely digitally, taking advantage of the Korean-European time difference and in effect proceeding 24 hours a day.
(Full article in A&D no. 232)