Wednesday, April 18, 2018


After the celebration of style and creative expression at the Geneva Salon in March, the Easter week opening of the New York Auto Show was totally dominated by a beautiful new electric coupe from Korea’s Genesis.

With the covers off at the Manhattan centre of automotive style and fashion, the Hyundai upmarket marque revealed more than beauty.

The Genesis Essentia Concept is the work of an extremely talented European designer, Belgian-born Luc Donckerwolke.

He was head-hunted from VW Group by Peter Schreyer (right), the former Audi designer who is now el Supremo of design at Hyundai-Kia.

The Essentia concept is striking not only for the cohesive flow of design elements, but also its practicality and efficiency. It's clearly conceived by a designer who understands concepts are worthless unless they have practical application.

Luc Donckerwolke is the man who stepped in and took Dirk van Braeckel’s striking Bentley Bentayga from design concept, to production reality.

However, what is more important is to me is a very fundamental truth. European designers grow up, mature and create designs of great subtlety, sophistication and maturity.

I have spent countless hours during the last 40 years talking with, and interviewing Oriental designers, to try and understand their design training, ideas and execution. In almost every sense they aspire, but in my opinion just fail to match their European counterparts.

It's not just a simple matter of design maturity.

Although the Europeans have a long tradition of blending perspective with flow, cohesion of surfacing, and refinement in innovation, the Oriental studios often produce designs which conflict with the European design ethic.

Marriage of the competing themes often prove impossible.

What has happened in the past 30 years is that the Japanese, Korean, and latterly Chinese designers have gradually managed to blend their own unique ideas with European basics, to create attractive concepts.

Undoubtedly young Korean designers contributed to Donckerwolke's initiatives and their skills will grow with experience; but it is the finishing touches from Luc's management of the overall theme which has produced this elegant concept.

Another element in the almost unstoppable rise of the Genisis brand will be the combination of Luc Donckerwolke and the Global Head of Genesis, my friend Manfred Fitzgerald.

I knew Manfred when we worked in the VW Group and he ran Lamborghini Sales & Marketing.

Manfred is truly a renaissance man, with both vision and experience.

I believe his track record, and his experience, combined with Luc's imaginative design talents is likely to rapidly propel Genesis into the sector dominated by the established European luxury leaders. Notwithstanding badge snobbery.

Hyundai certainly has the cash and the committment to make this a reality.

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