In the tradition of hosting compelling discourses about how technology and design shape our lives, the Designing Innovation series continues tomorrow, Wednesday, December 10th, with a panel discussion streaming live from the Cooper Union right here in New York City. Ford and IDSA NY are proud to present this discussion that will explore how design innovation takes place now and in the future, locally and globally. Everything kicks off at 7pm ET so watch this Designing Innovation page for the live feed and join in the discussion on Twitter using #designinginnovation.
We caught up with Craig Metros, Designing Innovation panelist and Exterior Design Director, The Americas at Ford, to ask him a few questions about what he finds innovative in the automotive industry and what part of the panel discussion he's looking forward to the most. Craig has come a long way in the past year; all the way from Melbourne, Australia where he was Design Director for Ford Asia Pacific, back to his hometown of Detroit to take up his new position as Ford's exterior design director of The Americas. Craig shared his excitement to be back in his hometown and what impact his artistic pursuits have on his automotive designs.
The Ford 2005 GT and the Ford 2015 Mustang GT350 wow Craig every time.
Core77: Is there a specific car model that leaves you uttering, "Wow," every time?
Craig Metros: My favorite models are the '05 Ford GT and the 2015 Mustang GT350. They are the embodiment of how Ford vehicles are designed—not just styled. The '05 GT came out as a symbol of Ford's automotive prowess, giving a subtle nod to the legendary Ford GT-40 race cars in certain aspects of its distinctive design DNA, while also offering a taste of the future with its bold, aspirational visual cues. Looking at the recently released Mustang GT350, I appreciate the fine balance between continuity and change. The car retains the key Mustang DNA elements but with a modern interpretation (the long hood, shark-bite nose, signature tri-bar tail lamps) while the lower roof and wider hips give its unique muscularity clearly differentiating it from any other Mustang.Core77: You recently became Ford's Exterior Design Director of The Americas. How did it feel to return "home" both as a Michigan native and a car designer?
I was born and raised in Detroit, so coming back after having enjoyed a great run at Ford's design studio in Melbourne, Australia really made the return into a homecoming of sorts. Given my long-standing history with the city, I might be a little partial in saying this, but there is an authenticity about Detroit. Apart from looking at the place the city has carved out for itself in American history and culture, there is so much happening in Detroit at the moment. It has become home to a vibrant community of makers—builders, entrepreneurs, artists and artisans. As a designer and an artist, the creative spirit and roll up your sleeves attitude is something that really makes me feel right at home.
Don't you wish this was in your driveway?
Core77: How will your experiences working for Ford's Asia Pacific Studio affect your design direction for the North American markets?
What Ford really excels at is fostering an agile approach to global design. About 80% of what you see with our vehicles are emblematic of the globally recognized Ford design DNA language, with 20% tailored to local needs. Having worked and lived overseas, most recently in Melbourne, I have a better understanding and appreciation of different cultures and lifestyles. Customer wants and needs in other markets are very different and through working in those other markets you don't just come to understand the differences, you actually live it. Since Ford is a global brand, this knowledge and understanding is essential and Ford takes this into consideration as it cultivates its talent.
Core77: As a hot rod enthusiast, what impresses you most about the direction in which modern car designs are headed?
Owning old hot rods makes me appreciate the efficiency, quality and safety standards of modern vehicles.
The brilliance lies in the details.
Core77: How does the fluid and abstract art you create impact your approach to the often precise and structured process of automotive design?
Having the time to create art outside of my job as a designer isn't so much about impacting my approach to design. Rather it is about infusing contrast into my creativity. I have the ability to let loose in the painting studio after making 0.1 mm adjustment in the Ford Design studio in CAD data. Designing a Ford vehicle is very detail-oriented by nature. With precision as the name of the game in the design studio, having the ability to go back to my home studio and put something to paper by just eyeballing it, creates a solid balance for my creative expression.
Core77: What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming panel discussion?
Aside from having the opportunity to engage with such incredible industry thought leaders, the topics we are slated to discuss are such thought-provoking themes that tap into challenges designers are faced with today and will continue to face well into the foreseeable future. We're in the midst of these macro-level shifts in society being driven by technology and social culture—all of which are having/will have huge implications for design as a discipline. The opportunity to take a step back and have live dialogue on subjects like this is really exciting stuff to me, and hopefully to those that tune in on Wednesday night as well.
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