Ford plans to add Soho style to its design work

Ford Motor Company’s new design centre in London’s Soho is expected to open next summer and employ up to 50 designers from a range of backgrounds. A director has yet to be appointed and a final name for the centre has yet to be announced.

Last week, Ford vice-president, design, Ford Automotive Operations J Mays revealed its current name, London Design Studio, is a working title for the Richard Rogers Partnership site. Mays says that the interiors of the building will fall largely in line with the architectural plans and no interior designer will need to be appointed.

The six-storey building, with views from Berwick Street market to the London Eye, will house retail and restaurant facilities at street level and in the basement.

“We are currently in negotiations with a London restaurateur,” Mays adds.

He says it is too early to go into detail about who might head the London Design Studio, which has been his personal initiative. It is not known if the director will be recruited from within Ford, whether he or she will have a corporate or design background, or even if the successful applicant will come from outside the automotive sector. What is clear is that Mays has not been short of interested candidates.

In establishing the studio, he wants to make vehicle design as “fashionable” as other creative disciplines such as branding, product and digital media design. Mays is seeking to enhance new Ford vehicle designs and also to diversify the output of Ford’s design arm.

“This is going to change the way we design some of our vehicles. The future of design lies around capturing the references that comprise people’s lives,” he says. Ford-designed products will be sold from the new site.

Multidisciplinary design teams will be located over five floors of the digital studio, which will include a power wall for 3D digital imaging.

“We will do some consultancy work here, not unlike Porsche – obviously not for other automotive companies though,” he adds.

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