A tempestuous and unpredictable surge of creativity marks the advent of a new wave of forty-year-old designers all ready to take on the world. Robert Cumberford analyses the current ferment among the motor manufacturers following the recent retirement of such dominant figures as Bruno Sacco, Art Blakeslee, Wayne Cherry and Hartmut Warkuss.
While its true impact will not be revealed for a year or two, when we shall be able to judge the performance of all those newcomers, the process is already in full swing.

Adrian van Hooydonk, the new Director of Design at BMW was already a vastly influential figure as Chief Designer of Designworks USA, the company’s California Style Centre; Verena Kloos who succeeds him in that role, arrives on the crest of a wave of a successful past in Mercedes. Elsewhere, Citroen’s Jean-Pierre Plouè will be presenting his first production model this year and we are all expecting major changes from the new Volkswagen team headed by Murat Gunak.

Freeman Thomas, Vice President of Chrysler’s Advanced Design Center, who previously designed the Audi TT and the New Beetle, is ideally placed to create other milestone models. Meanwhile, Luc Donckerwolke at Lamborghini, Dick van Braeckel at Bentley and Henrik Fisker at Aston Martin have already demonstrated their ability to revamp traditional brands.

Other key players on the international automotive stage include Andreas Zapatinas, the Greek design supremo in the Japanese Subaru, the Japanese Ken Okuyama, Director of Design at the Italian Pininfarina, the American Frank Stephenson, Coordinator of Maserati-Ferrari Design, and Scot Moray Callum in charge of Mazda Design.

All of them belong to the same “Roaring Forties” age group and all will be making a significant contribution to future trends in automotive design.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 148