Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo

Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo

An exclusive interview with Andrea di Buduo, Design Manager, Ford of America, Lincoln Design Studio, by our friend Daniel Tomicic from Scuderia Zagreb.


(Interview by Daniel Tomicic, Scuderia Zagreb – photo credit: Lincoln and Daniele Madia)

In the interview, reported below, Andrea di Buduo speaks about the design philosophy of the Lincoln brand, focusing in particular on the recent MKX Concept, touches topics such as the growing Chinese market, as well as giving some anticipations on upcoming production models.

Ford Mondeo - Design Sketch by Andrea di Buduo

What are differences between car designers’ work in Europe and in the States?

There aren’t many differences actually. We follow a very similar process around the globe. Our studios create unmistakably Ford products, regardless of the studio they are developed in.

Design Sketch by Andrea di Buduo

There also seems to be a convergence around the world in terms of what customers are looking for – mostly due to the ability of quickly sharing information around the globe.

Inspiration might differ from Europe to US though – the automobile culture is quite different.

What is unique for American premium car and can’t be found anywhere else?

American premium cars are certainly unique for their heritage. Lincoln automobiles embodied the concept of American luxury for long time reflecting with their size and opulence a period of great prosperity.

1956-57 Lincoln Continental Mark II 1956-57 Lincoln Continental Mark II

The 1956-57 Lincoln Continental Mark II

Think of the 1957 Continental Mark II, the most expensive car of its time in America, it was completely done by hand and was 5.5 meter long!

Andrea di Buduo and the Lincoln MKX Concept

Coming to nowadays into a modern globalized era you’ll notice that American luxury cars have undergone a transformation moving the game outside their domestic market without sacrificing too much of their individual bold character.

Lincoln is not well known in Europe. How would you describe it in short?

Lincoln is an American luxury brand, with nearly 100 years of history. Its founder, Henry Leland was known as The Master of Precision.

In 1922 Ford purchased Lincoln from Leland. Under Edsel B. Ford leadership the brand built cars that reflected his sensibilities and taste, emphasizing expressive style, class, elegance and refinement.

Lincoln automobiles have been the Presidential cars in USA and that’s probably something Europeans would remember.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Early Design Sketch by Andrea di Buduo

North America has been its main market however the brand is also distributed in Central America, Middle East and South Korea. In April 2014, The Lincoln Motor Company has been launched in China, opening a new chapter in its history.

What are main differences between Lincoln and Cadillac?

There are several differences. If we look at the design language, we can see a diametrically opposed way of conceiving a car: Lincoln cars are sensual and fluid contrasting enormously with the sharpness and the angular execution of Cadillac.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Moonroof

Who is Lincoln average customer?

The Lincoln average customer is a buyer that values individuality and doesn’t want to conform purchasing a traditional luxury product.

How must Lincoln change if it wants to be successful in China?

The Company has been going through a transformation during the last 3 years. We have launched a new product every year, starting with the Lincoln MKZ last year and more recently the Lincoln MKC.

Lincoln MKC Concept

Above: the Lincoln MKC

All the new cars are designed taking into account the Chinese market. The initial reaction from Chinese customers has been very encouraging.

This is an early indication for success but the most important thing is Lincoln’s commitment to creating not just new products, but cars with strong emotional appeal, a good level of innovation, and a warmer individual ownership experience.

The MKX Concept gives a bold message in this direction and that’s the reason why the reveal of this car was part of the Brand launch in China at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show.

Lincoln is defined by the strong front grille. How does headlamps technology evolution influence its shape?

Lincoln MKX Concept - Front view Design SketchIn its ultimate execution, on the MKX Concept, we wanted to emphasize the purity of the double grille theme, tuning down the decorative aspect in it.

Therefore the dark colours and the finishes were systematic to induce the observer’s eyes to see firstly the overall graphic.

We didn’t want to follow any trend so we deliberately designed a simple floating full led lamp. Its slim technology helped us to place it between the grille bars.

While its internals are subtle but cohesive with the rest of exterior repeating the same finishes of all the other parts (layers of polished and brushed aluminium, carbon).

Lincoln MKX has clear and simple proportions, is that something we’ll see on production cars also?

The MKX shows our vision for the mid SUV segment. This vision we think to be very compelling but achievable at the same time.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Front view Initial Design Sketch

Great proportions are clearly very important and this is especially true when you design a premium car.

We spent a lot of energy in defining the side view, moving the A pillar rearward, shortening the front overhang and elongating the rear overhang.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Rear 3 4 view design sketch

This has been a fundamental enabler to stretch the angle of the deck lit and give enough length to the rear undercut.

The other effort was to create enough offset between the side glass and the wheels. This is what defines the right stance for the vehicle.

But this is also the freedom to shape the body side and the enabler to express our design vocabulary creating the narrative that would elicit some sort of emotional reaction. If you look at the front or rear 3/4 of the MKX Concept you can appreciate the sensuality of the rear, end result of this geometrical and proportional work.

What novelties in surface language has MKX introduced?

The MKX surface language is sensual and muscular at the same time; we described it as gracefully athletic.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Pen and markers Design Sketch by Andrea di Buduo

The most distinctive feature is represented by the 2 undercuts on the body side. Those are almost the architrave of the entire body. Their shape remind a wing section profile which we believe to have a strong dynamic visual quality.

These undercuts connected by an invisible positive line, are harmoniously tapering towards the rear giving the same direction to the strong soft shoulders built on top of them.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Shoulder detail

The strength and the dynamism of the undercuts combined with the proud shoulders and the lower transitions from fenders to body side are all creating a sense of power and agility, yet the horizontal attitude of the belt and the gesture of the undercuts give an elegant appeal to the car. Powerful, agile, elegant are all the key attributes that create a successful premium SUV.

What is the importance of moon roof execution for MKX?

We paid obsessive attention to every aspect of the design. The roof represents always a fundamental challenge being a multi-functional part: the water management, the air flow, the roof racks, the panoramic view are all functions and parts that are going to be integrated.

Lincoln MKX Concept - Roof Design Sketch

On the MKX Concept we pursued a sculptural execution. In fact a depression starts right after the windshield leading deeper in to a floating spoiler at the end of the roof. At its bottom you can notice the CHMSL.

The result is very elegant and is meant to communicate aerodynamic efficiency. As an SUV, the MKX Concept has a very efficient aerodynamic shape.

About Andrea di Buduo

Andrea di Buduo (38) is an Italian automotive designer from Bisceglie. After graduating from IAAD in Turin in 1998, he started working at Stile Bertone.

In 2001 he moved to Cologne to join Ford of Europe. After 10 years he moved to the US to work at Ford of America, Lincoln Design Studio in Deaborn.

Ford Iosis Concept - Design Sketch by Andrea di Buduo

Among his most important projects are:

  • 2014 Lincoln MKX Concept
  • 2011 Ford Vertrek Design Manager
  • 2009/10 Key contribuitor to Evos and Fusion/Mondeo 2013
  • 2008/9 Ford Focus Wagon Design Manager
  • 2006/7 Ford Ka Lead Exterior Designer
  • 2005 Ford Iosis Lead Exterior Designer
  • 2003/4 Ford Mondeo 2007 Exterior Designer
  • 2002 Ford S-Max Exterior Designer

About the Author

Daniel Tomičić is an art historian, historian and automotive writer. Since 2004 he has been writing on automotive design, classic cars and low-scale production vehicles. Until today he has made more than 100 interviews with key people from the automotive world, mainly designers.

In 2008 he founded a company, Scuderia Zagreb, for promotion of automotive culture.

Since 2009 he is the organizer of the  automotive design conference Auto(r), the biggest event of this kind in Europe. In 2010 he started classic car event named Tour of Istria.

(Text and Image Courtesy: Lincoln and Daniel Tomičić for Car Body Design)

Image Gallery

Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 14
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 13
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 18
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 29
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 21
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 3
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Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 22
Exclusive: Interview with Lincoln Design Manager Andrea di Buduo - Image 12

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  1. Markwg
    24/11/2014

    ”The Lincoln average customer is a buyer that values individuality and doesn’t want to conform purchasing a traditional luxury product.”

    ”American premium cars are certainly unique for their heritage. Lincoln automobiles embodied the concept of American luxury for long time reflecting with their size and opulence a period of great prosperity.”

    . . . . . . so says Mr. di Buduo.

    What Mr. di Buduo fails to mention is that Lincoln has been dying a slow, merciless death for the past several years, becoming nothing more than opulent Fords dressed in evening drag. Lincoln’s once proud statement, ”Unmistakably Lincoln” no longer applies. They have become generic, round jelly beans like everything else on the freeways across the globe. The last Lincoln to actually look ”Unmistakably Lincoln” was in fact the 1997 Lincoln Town Car.

    Until Ford Motor Company and its Lincoln design team revives the ”Unmistakably Lincoln” look of formal upright styling, Lincoln will continue its slide into mediocrity and eventual death. As it stands now, I see Lincoln’s imminent demise no later than 2017 . . . .it’s 100th anniversary. Henry Leland is spinning in his grave over these Fords in drag.

    A great place to look for inspiration to breathe life back into the brand to make it a worthy competitor to Cadillac once more is to simply look to the iconic 1961 Continental by Elwood Engel. Or, even the very 1956-57 Mark II they show right here!! Are these designers blind when they dare to compare an iconic benchmark design like the Continental Mark II to the round disasters they peddle to the public now?

    Come on , FoMoCo . . . . .gives a REAL Lincoln again!

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