Below we report a series of short clips that present interviews with designers and modellers working at Ford’s European Design Center.
The first movie was published by Ford earlier this month, and presents the activities carried out at the Clay Modelling Studio in Merkenich, Germany.
The other videos are part of a series published back in April, on the occasion of the Salone del Mobile furniture and fashion design fair in Milan.
Inside Ford’s Clay Modeling Studio
How Ford’s design process works
Stefan Lamm is Exterior Design Director, Ford of Europe, and a key member of the design team responsible for shaping the look of Ford concept and production vehicles.
“Great design is about making people fall in love with a product,” Lamm said. “I get my inspiration from colleagues and I really enjoy discussing design and looking at sketches. Here at Salone del Mobile it is fascinating to see how materials are treated in modern furniture. You can digest so many design trends here in Milan.”
Lamm joined Ford in 2005, having previously held the position of chief designer at Opel AG, Germany. Lamm first developed a love for sketching and a love of cars when he was a boy growing up in Dortmund, Germany.
“My father never could afford to buy a new car, so I was always watching what cars our neighbours and friends had and sketching them,” Lamm said. “I was always sketching and by the time I was 15 or 16, I started dreaming about being a car designer.”
The tradition of clay modelling in car design
Damian Lottner is a clay modeller at Ford’s Design Studio in Cologne, Germany. Born in Poland and living in Germany since the age of four, Lottner had his heart set on a career in modelling from the age of 16, when he first experienced the Ford design environment as an intern. Lottner has worked at Ford since 2003.
He joined as a hard modeller — working with wood and synthetic materials to produce prototype designs. Following two and a half years’ training with the Ford design team he moved from hard modelling to clay modelling in 2006.
“Many people are amazed when I explain my job to them, because there is a perception that designing vehicles today is a computerised process and that traditional skills like clay modelling are no longer needed,” Lottner said.
“In my opinion there is no replacement for what we do, both in terms of the speed that we can progress designs and the ability to see, touch and truly experience a design in the flesh.”
In addition to his training and experience with Ford, Lottner also studied at the Academy of Craft and Design in Aachen, Germany, and is a keen artist and sculpture in his spare time — hobbies that delivers both synergies and contradictions with his working life.
“Sculpting is often taking the two-dimensional world and presenting in in three dimensions, while painting is the opposite,” Lottner said.
“I’m currently painting the Cologne Cathedral, a project I have had for a couple of years. As with clay modelling at work, it requires a lot of patience. You have to trust in the skills you have, but you always have to be aware that in order to create something new you may have to destroy what you had before.”
Building a car from clay
Mike Gasteier is group leader for the clay modelling department at Ford’s Design Studio in Cologne, Germany, and an experienced clay modeller.
Originally from Cologne, Gasteier has worked at Ford since 1994. Starting as a hard modeller — working with wood and synthetic materials to produce prototype designs — he moved to clay modelling in 1999.
“I wanted to move in to clay modelling because it offered the chance to get closer to the actual design of the vehicle,” Gasteier said. “I had training from Ford before starting to work with clay, but you learn so much year after year. The most important thing is simply to have fun with it.”
For Gasteier, retaining perspective is another important element when working with clay to create exterior designs. The ability to view a surface as part of the complete design can be crucial.
“All of the surfaces need to come together to form a relationship with each other,” Gasteier said. “Sometimes you need to take a step back backwards and view the project as a whole. Maybe even clear your mind by going for a walk for 10 minutes, and then return with a fresh perspective.”
Gasteier has worked on many projects during two decades with Ford, and enjoys the opportunity to be involved in creating new vehicles from a very early stage. Among his favourite projects was the development of the Ford B-MAX that offered a new challenge in presenting the sliding rear door. Gasteier also particularly enjoys working with vehicle interiors.
Finding Design Inspiration
Sonja Vandenberk is Chief Designer, Colour and Material, Ford of Europe, a position she has held since October 2013.
In this role Vandenberk works with a team of 18 designers based in Germany and the U.K., creating the next generation of exterior colour and material applications for Ford cars and future Vignale products.
“I find inspiration everywhere. It’s about keeping eyes open, ears open, sometimes listening to music and at other times immersing yourself in pure silence,” Vandenberk explained. “At the same time I do look for inspiration through blogs, magazines and exhibitions. I’m a pretty down to earth person. Sure, design is about inspiration but even more importantly, it’s about making it happen.”