Ford’s Ingeni design centre in London’s Soho is to shut its doors before the end of the year, as the cash-strapped automotive group struggles to cut costs.
The 14 designers currently based at the Soho studio are being offered repatriation by Ford with immediate effect. Ford’s Midlands-based design teams for Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, as well as its engineering centre in Dunton remain unaffected.
Closure will leave the Richard Rogers-designed building in the hands of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, the luxury division that includes Volvo, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, headed by PAG chairman Mark Fields.
Gerry McGovern, former director of design for Land Rover who recently replaced Henrik Fisker as design director of the experimental studio, ‘will have a new assignment in Ford Motor Company,’ he says.
Given our company is in a very difficult business situation, and it’s all hands to the pump, our designs will be better employed on other projects,’ McGovern says.
‘When the climate is more conducive to business, we might start it up again.’
Ingeni design centre was a pet project of Ford vice-president of design J Mays and opened in September 2002. It was conceived five years ago to rejuvenate Ford’s brands.
The closure of the studio leaves a question mark over the viability of similar brand owners offering design consultancy services to third party clients, as Ford has done for the telecoms, airlines and consumer goods sectors.
Work at Ingeni was split between design work for external clients and a range of work for Ford’s brands, including concept cars such as the Faction and accessories, including furniture, chess sets and umbrellas for PAG.