The Lincoln Colors and Materials office of Janet Seymour and Jenny Kubinec looks more like a room in an upscale hardware store than a typical office. Domed plates painted in a range of sample colors line the walls, showing hues for both current and future Lincolns and their interiors. Large boards depicting black and white photos of modern architecture are placed on wheels and moved about the room.
The interior of the “buck” (shown left) of the 2015 MKC sits at the front of the room – a driver’s seat, four passenger seats, and a complete center console.
Trinkets of inspiration can be found here and there amidst the organized rows of sampled colors and textures: one can notice a small printed photo of a sunset taped within the palettes and swatches. On the adjacent wall, one can find a similar hidden photo – this one of a ballerina. The room has that new car smell, always.
“It could be colors, it could be patterns, just little details and inspirational pieces. We keep revisiting these over and over again,” says Kubinec. “It’s part of that process of kind of discerning what is sustainable in the design.”
Inspiration, we have found, is not easy to explain. Sometimes it’s only recognizable to the individual who needs it, and sometimes it’s garnered from an object meant to inspire. Often, it’s where you least expect it. “There was this one Lincoln show car that we did some years back and we were just fooling around with some ideas,” Len Olsen, Master Digital Sculptor, explains.
“We pulled off the end of an orange, where the flower end is, and we were looking at the shape inside the orange just by chance. There was this little pattern. Anybody can peel off the orange and see it. We ended up doing a wheel based on that. It turned out pretty cool.” Olsen continues, “Everything inspires us.”
For the 2015 MKC, the first vehicle crafted completely within the Lincoln Design Studio, inspiration came easily. “Lincoln, historically, has been about modern, progressive design. The inception of the Lincoln Continental really resonated with people who were embracing modern architecture, modern design, modern products,” says Seymour, Color and Design Manager for Lincoln. “It was all about really getting to the honesty of your environment, and trying to keep it light, open air, clean, simple lines.”
The inspirations for this vehicle include the same points that inspired the vehicles from Lincoln’s heyday, which would become the brand’s original pillars of design. The challenge was to revisit Lincoln’s design DNA and then go somewhere completely new.
“I feel that Lincoln throughout the decades has evolved, but it’s still always held fast to the original credo of modernism,” says Seymour. “Lincoln is headed in that direction of retaining that beautiful, progressive, clean, modern simplicity of the designs.”
“I want to visualize what I’m creating.” – Soo Kang, Lincoln Interior Design Chief
Kubinec and Seymour created two new color environments for the interior of the MKC, both inspired by the sands of Hawaii (incidentally, the shape and porous textures of the seating is a subtle homage to a lounge chair). The cabin’s design complemented both the idea of a sun-kissed beach, and the original design credo. “It’s a pretty unique interior design, just the outward flow – that leads the eye to really expand and accentuate the width of the interior,” says Seymour. “I love those aspects, and I love of course the open air concept with the panoramic roof. It just gives you a feeling of openness and light. To me, this car epitomizes the feeling of living in a modern home.”
The unique opportunity to create a brand new vehicle with a Lincoln-dedicated studio of integrated interior and exterior designers, completely separated from their Ford counterparts, allowed the teams’ imaginations to run wild while articulate engineering brought the innovations to life. This unusual degree of team integration is apparent in the design: the rear alone went through several iterations to achieve a singular graceful liftgate where the curves of the seams are matched in beauty by the holistic lighting panel.
“It’s how you combine the elements together,” says Soo Kang, Lincoln Interior Design Chief. “When you look at a Monet painting versus a Picasso painting, they use the same medium. How the art is combined and balanced, one to another, is a totally different look.”
The exterior siding of the car, another unique design for Lincoln, was inspired by the muscles of a sprint runner. Lean, swift, and confident. “The initial concept was to create a very kind of athletic, muscular form to the vehicle,” says Lincoln Exterior Designer Dilon Blanski. “We didn’t want it to be over-the-top muscular, like a body builder, but more like a runner.”
For EMM Gary Johnson, inspiration for a runner’s swiftness and agility was a final design that he could see. “We knew what we didn’t like,” says Johnson. “Every time we did it we said ‘it’s just not quite right,’ and then you get it, and that’s where the reward is – you’ve finally captured that feeling.”
The designers, are inspired by each other, but also by the individuals who will drive the new MKC.
“They’ve been around and they’ve seen and experienced a lot of things, globally or locally,” says Seymour. “Even though they’re always looking for new and exciting technologies and new experiences, I think it always falls back to being comfortable in their environment, and being able to really make a connection. It’s a new luxury that we’re looking at, there’s really nothing in there that’s fake and coded or too manufactured.”
Kang, sitting among inspirational pieces that will one day be present in a Lincoln vehicle adds, “It’s their home on wheels.”