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Hyundai design center: home visit to the Hyundai chief designer

Stephan Lindloff
Hyundai Design Center
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The hands gesticulate in slow, flowing movements. A calm, almost gentle voice speaks about the language of forms, branding design elements and proportions. Anyone who has experienced other automobile designers is a little amazed by Thomas Bürkle at first. The man does not correspond at all to the image of the extravagant artist. The latent diva-like character that is said of his profession also seems completely alien to him.

Hyundai is trimmed to be classy, ​​serious and comfort-oriented

On this day he wears a gray suit with a classic cut and shoes made of light brown leather. Elegant, not overly fashionable. Privately, he has owned a Mercedes W111 since his student days Coupe. A vehicle that suits him as much as his suit and the brand he now works for. Because in contrast to the sister brand Kia , which has a young If you want to appeal to the audience, Hyundai is noble, serious and trimmed for comfort. So it is not surprising that Kia is more likely to attract attention with its extravagant vehicles - at least in the recent past. Because for many years all Korean cars could confidently be described in two words: practical and simple.

Brand identity has not been important for Koreans until now

Hyundai was about as far removed from brand identity, a formal language with recurring design elements, as the actor Ottfried Fischer was from a sporty figure. 'In Korea, 70 percent of all cars are from Hyundai or Kia. That is why maximum differentiation between the individual models used to have priority. A recognition effect with regard to the brand was not wanted at all,' explains Bürkle. 'In Europe, on the other hand, there is significantly more diversity. That is why it is important that a car can be visually assigned to a brand in road traffic.'

Bürckle established the future brand-typical, hexagonal grill

Why is a car designer switching from a German premium brand - Bürkle designed the among other things BMW 6er - to a Korean mass manufacturer? 'It was the white paper that appealed to me. A car designer gets the chance to completely rebuild the identity of a brand only once in a lifetime, 'explains Bürkle. And the soft voice convinces the Korean bosses. With the Hyundai i30 , Bürkle established the hexagonal (hexagonal) grill, which will be typical of the brand, and the so-called 'Fluetic Sculpture' 'he developed a uniform design language that works with twisted surfaces.' The Hyundai ix35 combines masculine proportions with feminine surface play,' he explains the design of the Hyundai Tucson successor, which will go on sale in the spring.' That creates liveliness and emotionality. 'With this model, an era begins in which the produc Te from Hyundai and Kia visually differentiate more.

Bürkle raves about automotive legends

While the predecessors Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson looked almost the same, the successors differ significantly from each other. This also applies to the interior lighting: Kia will use red as the brand-typical color in the future, Hyundai displays will be illuminated in blue. But not everything in Bürkle's office in Rüsselsheim is Korean dreams of the future. Icons of European brands are parked in miniature on a sideboard. Bürkle raves about automotive legends like Citroën DS, Lancia Stratos or M ercedes 300 SL . Perhaps the brand identity he created will also become a classic in a few decades and will be in the showcases of car fans in the form of model cars.


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