Lincoln opens new Design Studio

Automotive Design 22 Oct 2012
Lincoln opens new Design Studio

Licoln has opened its new design studio, located in Dearborn, Michigan and focused on the collaboration between designers and the whole development team.

The new facility is located within the existing Ford’s product development center in Dearborn (MI) and will employ 150 among designers, engineers, digital and clay sculptors and other development teams.

Lincoln Design Studio - OpeningThe focus on collaboration is underlined by the open-space, loft-like environment, which replaces cubicles in favor of an open workspaces where the design team members can share ideas, get feedback, check magazines for inspiration.

“Being able to fit interior and exterior design teams into one space is really important because often they are two separate workstreams — two different sensibilities,” said Max Wolff, Lincoln Design director.

“But, everyone can learn from each other as we focus on what Lincoln should be.”

All this will help Lincoln’s announced plans to introduce four new or significantly refreshed vehicles in the next four years.

Lincoln Design Studio - Lincoln MKZ Lincoln MKZ prototype Clay Modeling

Below we report two set of videos and the official document which outlines the different stages of the car design process adopted by Lincoln – and more in general by most automotive studios.

Lincoln Design Studio – videos


Lincoln – Design Process


Once a vision has been established for a vehicle, designers began the process of sketching and bringing their ideas to life.

The interior and exterior designers begin working to execute a common, complementary vision. Working closely together in an open environment helps remove any creative roadblocks that may arise from two different design perspectives. Throughout the process, designers make thousands of sketches.

Once a harmonious design is developed, the team produces up to 15 polished drawings or renderings and about 20 virtual images that will be used to create clay models of the vehicle.

Clay and EMM (Electrical Math Modelers)

The clay model or prototype allows all workstreams to begin editing the design.

Lincoln MKZ prototype Clay Modeling

During the design process for the all-new 2013 MKZ, for example, exterior and interior designers were able to make revisions to the prototype as needed and dependent upon feedback from engineers for features like the retractable panoramic glass roof.

The Colors and Materials team worked with interior and exterior designers to ensure colors, wood and chrome appliques and leather choices accentuated the features of the vehicle to create a warm, inviting environment.

Clay modelers make the edits to the prototype and sculpt the design with keen attention to detail before the car begins production. Milling machines use computer-aided design to create precise clay models for aerodynamic wind tunnel testing. Often up to 20 versions are made on the large clay model.


Engineers collaborate with designers to create features like the retractable roof and to make sure the design comes to life as a producible vehicle.

Interior designers who envisioned a spacious interior with an open console worked with engineers to execute the push-button shift that replaces the traditional lever.

Designers and engineers work as a team on exterior features as well like the standard LED lights on the new MKZ to make sure the head and tail lamps meet regulations.

Prototype Validation and Testing

Before a customer ever knows about a new Lincoln, a passionate team of engineers ensures that a new model meets the design intent and stacks up favorably against benchmarked competitors.

To deliver the optimum blend of sporty performance and refined ride – an attribute the new Lincoln customer demands – the new MKZ uses Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) suspension. There are more than 1,200 individual settings that go into tuning the Lincoln CCD system.

More than 4,000 man hours went into perfecting CCD to deliver the Lincoln ride DNA.

(Source: Lincoln)

Image Gallery

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Leave a Comment

  1. glyphics1943

    If, as J. Mays says, Lincoln is a separate brand from Ford – not Ford making Lincolns – why is he, Ford’s Global VP, telling us about the design ethos of Lincoln? Let’s hear from the Lincoln Global VP (there isn’t one). I detect doublespeak here but we are not supposed to notice.

    Ford may believe that customers separate performance and luxury but they do so at the risk of Lincoln’s future. As of now, all of the desirable performance cars are Fords and all Lincoln models are Fords with slightly different sheet metal. Aside from badge engineered trucks, Lincoln sells only two sedans; no convertibles, no coupes, no “hot-rod Lincolns.” Somehow, under this strategy, Lincoln is supposed to attract new customers.

    If Ford executives believe that the cosmetic differences are worth the premium price tag, I believe that the customers will prove them wrong and Lincoln sales will not grow at the rate of the competition. They cannot create a “unique experience” for Lincoln vis-a-vis Ford if they continue to brand-engineer hand-me-up Ford platforms. All of the designers in the world are not going to make a difference.


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