Ford Motor Company’s newest design studio doesn’t have a milling machine. Or clay. Or doorways and elevators large enough to squeeze in a car.
"It doesn’t need any of the conventional trappings of a traditional design studio, because Ingeni is anything but a typical studio," says J Mays, the company’s vice president of Design of the stylish studio housed in an allglass Richard Rogers building in London’s bustling Soho.
Instead, Mays prefers to call Ingeni a "centre of creativity" where ideas and designs are hatched for everything from tomorrow’s automobiles and merchandise supporting all eight Ford Motor Company brands to non-automotive consumer products such as watches, furniture and guitars. In addition, Ingeni will specialise in creating integrated brand and communications strategies for clients outside the automotive industry.
The international team of approximately 30 designers and business managers, led by Ingeni Creative Director Henrik Fisker, leverages technology to create the vision and products clients demand. In addition to state-of-the-art software and a tie into one of the world’s most powerful computer networks that help the team quickly capture quality designs, Ingeni relies on a global network of other resources to create finished products.
For instance, an Ingeni designer working on a new car design at her work station in Soho can send the data from her design to be milled into a clay model at a Land Rover studio in nearby Gaydon, Ford’s advanced studio in California or Volvo’s studio in Sweden.
"The technology we use at Ingeni sets us apart, but that’s not all," Fisker says. "What really makes us unique is our philosophy. We’re not here to just create products. Ingeni is here to create products that improve people’s quality of life – by creating an emotional world for them that is communicated through design.
"How Ingeni does all of that is different. Where we do it is special and so is our team."
Ingeni’s creative experts have been handpicked from around the globe and represent a cross-section of creative disciplines – ranging from commercial arts and fashion to advertising and marketing to automotive, furniture and product design. In their former jobs, individual team members have created everything from airplane seats and cell phones to fabrics, motorcycles and, of course, automobiles.
"The diversity of this team is one of Ingeni’s greatest strengths," Mays says. "When people from backgrounds this different come together on a project, each brings a different perspective and expertise that takes the overall team in a new direction. That improves the core team at Ingeni, of course, but our designs also will be better because of it."
"In the end, Ford Motor Company will design better cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles because of the pool of creative talent we’ve created at Ingeni – and our outside clients will benefit as well."
It’s no accident that Ingeni is based in the heart of London – the world’s creative epicentre.
The six-floor, 3,020-square-metre Ingeni building offers panoramic views of London, offering an abundance of natural light and 360 degrees of inspiration.
Ingeni’s creative operations are housed in the fourth and fifth floors and soon will expand to the third floor. Ingeni’s operations feature space set aside for both individual work stations and group creative areas.
Those are filled with the tools you would expect – computers, markers, fabric swatches, colour palettes and images of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and Mazda products – as well as some you wouldn’t – such as teddy bears, crayons, and even a collection of unusual rocks.
The sixth floor is set aside for conference and gallery space – for both Ingeni sessions and those sponsored by outside firms.
The first and second floors will be home to outside companies – including a software design company, a merchandising specialty firm and Yauatcha, a restaurant independently owned and operated by Alan Yau, owner of the acclaimed Hakkasan and Busaba restaurants and founder of Wagamama. Yauatcha will be situated over two floors, with the lower ground floor featuring an all-day Dim Sum restaurant and the ground floor housing a Tea House and Bar.
"The vision is that, in addition to soaking up the culture and inspiration surrounding us in Soho, we will help feed this creative community – and the world as well," Fisker says. "Ingeni is a laboratory and a shop window, all at the same time."Published 20 June 2002