“Obviously, it’s got to feel substantial.” Soo Kang, Lincoln’s Interior Design Chief is not necessarily someone who talks with her hands. Currently, she is sitting next to Lincoln’s Design Director Max Wolff. The two have been working together for two and a half years, and both have the ability to describe shape without any waving gestures. The 2015 Lincoln MKC will be their first full project delivered together.
“It’s got to feel like it does all of the things that it needs to do, and it’s got to feel like a Lincoln,” says Kang. “But at the same time, we wanted it to have a little bit of its own character; a little bit more youthful, a little bit more vibrant. You can see that in some of the shapes that play through. It creates this feeling of spaciousness when you open the door and also when you’re sitting in it.”
The MKC first took shape off paper as a lump of clay. Ross Aquilina, Master Modeler, gathered the tools he’d created specifically to articulate the perfect curves in the Lincoln Design studio or in his own at-home studio – carbon fiber sheets and even shaved-down kitchen utensils attached to screwdriver handles – and began to formulate the first shapes of the car.
The clay is kept in storage lockers at tropical temperatures and smoothed over metal and foam blocks that barely resemble anything, much less a car. Aquilina works with Master Digital Sculptor Len Olsen to bring the first breaths of design to life. For the MKC, Aquilina says, “It was a linear (sequence) that we just kept improving, improving, improving. The proportions were set early on. The lines were pretty close at the beginning and it was just tune, tune, tune, tune to the Nth degree. Those are the things we would sweat over.”
“It’s like a craftsman did it. They’ve done it by hand and they try to make it perfect.”
– Dillon Blanski, Senior Exterior Designer
The linear sequence in question was born out of the inspiration drawn from architecture (specifically, an art museum in Milwaukee) and human forms. “The initial concept was to create a very kind of athletic, muscular form to the vehicle and we didn’t want it to be over-the-top muscular, like a body builder but more like a runner,” says Dillon Blanski, Senior Exterior Designer. “In the forms of the car we’ve tried to keep it simple in the lines, but use the surface in between those lines to create that muscular feeling.”
Next, the interior had to be taken into consideration. This is no ordinary car, and it inspires no ordinary feeling when sitting in any of the five seats. Each and every shape of a button, side flank, or center console was carefully considered. For Kang, it was about total integration. “We have a true flow through,” says Kang. “Lines and shapes are dancing in that interior because IP [instrument panel] to door, I did a true integration. When I looked at the design, it was more of an emotional surrounding we had to create. It had to be warm and inviting, but at the same time, you have to feel comfortable driving that vehicle.”
The MKC will be the smallest of the Lincoln vehicle lineup in the 2014 calendar year, a surprising fact considering it is a crossover SUV, and feels anything but small when sitting inside. “It’s really light, but it’s so strong the way they constructed the design,” says Kang. “It’s quite impressive and where they put the heater and cooler of the motor is right in the area, so they made sure people get heating and cooling efficiently. It worked out.”
“Just adjusting lines by half a millimeter sometimes makes a huge difference.”
– Len Olsen, Master Digital Sculptor
The colors and materials team Jenny Kubinek and Janet Seymour developed two new color palettes, or environments, for the interior. The lighter environment, White Sands, was inspired by the reflection of light on sand dunes. It’s the lightest color palette of any Lincoln vehicle yet, and is coupled with a “dark horizon” instrument panel inspired by the black sands of Hawaii. Seymour says it “cradles you in the environment, and, also, it gives a very spacious, open feeling to it.”
In the MKC, there are very few knobs or protrusions on the interior, and the exterior is curvaceous, round, and as many will describe, graceful. Aquilina elaborates, “The outside of the car is really exciting to me. It’s muscular, it’s elegant. And then you get in the car and it… it holds you. There’s something comforting, the way you sit in it you’re up a little. Everything flows around you”
The end product is like that sprint runner; simple, determined, and has a particular kind of confidence that can only be recognized by others of a similar cloth, and who those might admire. “I see something that, that would attract both a man and a woman equally. It’s elegant, yet young,” says Olsen. “Something that my grandfather’s Lincoln wouldn’t have had.”