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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)