Ford Motor Company is boosting its commitment to developing top new products with the opening of an innovative new design and creativity centre in London, the world’s capital of culture and style.
That is how J Mays, Ford Motor Company’s vice president of Design, views the company’s new design house, which creates everything from automobiles and lifestyle merchandise for the company’s eight brands to non-automotive consumer products running the gamut from sunglasses to furniture.
"We took a long, hard look at the traditional role of design in the auto industry and found the need for change," says Mays. "What we came up with is a venture that reflects the cumulative mindset of the talented team members who support every brand at Ford Motor Company’s global network of design centres."
Named Ingeni, the new venture is a new creative centre where automotive and other product designers alike can flex their creative muscles, explore new ways to connect with consumers and share insights with international experts from the worlds of fashion, commercial arts, advertising, marketing as well as furniture design.
Together, the Ingeni team will be able to create cars and trucks for Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and Mazda as well as luxury goods for the company’s Premier Automotive Group and merchandise for non-automotive clients.
Ingeni will spend equally one-third of its time and resources designing automobiles for Ford Motor Company’s eight brands; creating luxury goods that are licensed and distributed through Beanstalk, a Ford subsidiary; and creating products for outside clients.
"Ingeni allows us to teach our team how to execute designs with European quality, understand the principles of rapid design and manufacturing and, at the same time, learn from experts in other disciplines of design," says Henrik Fisker, Ingeni’s creative director. "What company couldn’t benefit from a design ‘dream team’ like this?" Ford already is realising the benefits Ingeni brings in developing lifestyle products to support its brands, Mays said.
"Every time we hire a company to make products such as sunglasses to support one of our brands, they need to invest significant time and resources in understanding the brand and making sure they use appropriate materials and designs when creating the finished product," he said. "With Ingeni, all of that knowledge about our brands’ DNA remains in-house. We won’t have to pay to create that expertise every time we try to bring a new consumer product to market."
Plus, Ingeni will help Ford keep its automotive design team fresh. Some of Ingeni’s 30 employees may rotate to assignments supporting Ford’s numerous product programs around the globe, while those working on company vehicle programs may take on jobs at Ingeni.
"Change is good for creativity," Fisker says. "Fresh minds bring new innovations."
At the same time, being part of Ford’s network of global resources helps Ingeni maximize productivity and keep down overhead costs.
For instance, Ingeni is linked to Ford’s global computer network and other technologies in the company’s 12 other design studios around the world – much like Volvo’s state-of-the-art virtual studio in Barcelona, Spain. That means Ingeni employees can work on projects in Soho, ship data files to Ford facilities throughout Europe, the U.S., Asia and Australia, where the designs can be further refined or physical prototypes can be made.
"We’re seeing other companies start to emulate Ingeni, but that’s not worrisome," says Mays. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we have a good two-year lead on the competition."
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