Frank’s Imaginative and prescient |


Legendary industrial designer Frank Stephenson talks about his historical past with the world’s prime automobile producers and his newer ventures in progressive design.

Written by: Zheran Chen

Frank Stephenson has his imaginative and prescient. Together with his title to designs from the long-lasting New MINI to the thrilling McLaren P1, at 62, he’s nonetheless keen about design and interested in all issues pure. He has risen to grow to be one of the crucial influential automotive designers over the previous three many years. 

Frank Stephenson sketches on a regular basis, it’s nearly a convention for him to select up a ballpoint pen and let his creativity movement over any floor he can discover. Even throughout this interview, Frank sketches, it didn’t take lengthy for a clear sheet of paper to grow to be one thing actually outstanding.

Frank lives in a lovely, quiet nation home in England and can also be the design director of a studio in London that bears his personal title. Some would say it’s nearly exhausting to match Frank’s previous and current persona, from the illustrious design boss who ran Ferrari and formed McLaren’s future, to the frankly talking founding father of Frank Stephenson Design (no pun meant), and even YouTuber. He’s now utilizing his creativity in nearly every part: futuristic eVTOL plane, progressive child safety seats, and even a supercomputer.

However there’s a connection. For many individuals, Frank’s work has been in contact with their lives for a few years, whether or not it was love at first sight for the beautiful Fiat 500, the sheer pleasure of driving a MINI by the countryside, and even the surreal feeling of seeing a McLaren P1 for the primary time. Immediately, wherever you go, there’s sure to be a product with which Frank has some type of involvement.

He was born in Casablanca, the identical place the place Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman shone on the massive display screen. Camels, fragrances and the colourful but romantic tradition of Morocco influenced Frank’s upbringing in some ways earlier than the household launched into a collection of strikes, first to Turkey after which to Spain, diversifying his understanding of various cultures.

It was within the yr he completed highschool that his life took its first flip, which, surprisingly, had nothing to do with automobile design. Anybody who has come into shut contact with Frank will discover his muscular construct, which comes from years of motocross racing in his early days. Sure, he was once an expert motocross rider. First, he gained the Junior Championship in Spain and started racing within the Nationwide Sequence.

However when he turned 22, his father advised him to search out one thing else to do for a residing. “It was unhappy to finish it, however my father had a degree. I used to be good however not successful, there’s a giant distinction between being good and successful. I didn’t need to be achieved at 30, I wanted to search out one thing else I used to be higher at”.

When Frank first heard in regards to the Artwork Heart Faculty of Design (ACCD) in Pasadena, California, he instantly determined it was the place he wished to go. “A college devoted to automotive design; I utilized with out hesitation”, Frank considers his faculty years to be probably the most memorable regardless of the every day pressures.

“I’ve misplaced observe of what number of nights I’ve stayed up, it’s simply so exhausting. You’ll at all times suppose you’re gifted, however there are such a lot of gifted individuals there, so I’ve plenty of respect for my classmates.
I feel I realized extra from my classmates than I did from my lecturers”.

Frank shouldn’t be exaggerating, there have been 30 younger college students enrolled with him in 1983, whereas solely six graduated in 1986. Frank was provided a Ford scholarship throughout his sophomore yr at ACCD, which ultimately turned a job alternative.
He selected to work for Ford Europe in Cologne to be close to his household, and what was his first job at Ford? Designing the wheels of the brand new Sierra!

BMW was his subsequent goal. In July 1991 he took his portfolio to Munich they usually employed him on the spot. It was a terrific transformation time for BMW, which had a lot potential for a younger designer like Frank.

A line-up of solely 3, 5, 7 and eight Sequence was not sufficient for BMW’s ambitions. Since their acquisition of the Rover Group, the German big was contemplating an unprecedented growth with new additions equivalent to Land Rover, MINI, Triumph and Wolseley.

Frank’s supervisor on the time requested him to current an off-roader prototype utilizing the know-how of the lately acquired Land Rover in six weeks. From the present viewpoint, it’s nearly inconceivable.


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