As design manager for Hyundai North America, Andre Hudson has played a key role in the new design language of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. At the launch for the new Sonata in San Diego, Michigan Chronicle auto correspondent Marcus Amick talked to Hudson about the inspiration for the new Sonata and Hyundai’s overall design strategy.
Amick: What was the primary objective when redesigning the Sonata?
Hudson: We wanted to, firstly, make an emotional connection with our customers. We decided that we wanted to offer our customers something that would stand out in the mid-size segment and offer a sedan that was packaged well, drove well and was visually exciting. We knew that we had established ourselves with the previous generation Sonata in terms of safety, reliability and drivability, so now it was our time to actually make an aesthetic statement and establish a look for the future Hyundai's which we are calling “Fluidic Sculpture.”
Amick: What were some of the key things the design team wanted to focus on?
Hudson: The team looked at what we could do to make the Sonata look and feel much more expensive than it actually was. We set forth in doing this by giving a real essence of sculpture to the surface quality, giving dynamic character to the line treatment and really paying close attention to the details (headlamps, tail lamps, grill). We also wanted to give the car much more of a “coupe” treatment than the competition, so we were enabled to stretch the roofline rearward with the application of the third window behind the rear door without compromising interior space. This also adds amazing drama to the overall profile of the car.
Amick: When the design team talks about the “Fluid Sculpture,” what exactly does that mean?
Hudson: “Fluidic” is inspired by nature and harmony of the organic elements found throughout it. “Sculpture” symbolizes our artistic and creative process in which the designers and sculptors express their passion for design.
Amick: How was that “Fluidic Sculpture” applied to the new Sonata?
Hudson: Aesthetically, the new Sonata embodies this philosophy with its expressive use of line and surface to create a dynamic statement.
Amick: How much influence did the Genesis have in the new Sonata design?
Hudson: Not so much. The Genesis is totally different in market segment, architecture and philosophy.
Amick: What were some of the things done in the interior to reflect the exterior styling cues?
Hudson: The interior and exterior complement each other so well in the Sonata. When you open the door and slide behind the wheel you notice the same three- dimensional quality as apparent on the exterior. This feeling off depth and surface movement give you a sense of space but is still intimate enough that you feel safely cradled in the car.
Amick: There has been a lot of discussion about the color palette for the new Sonata. Why was that so important in the design process?
Hudson: The new color palette, developed by color designer Liz Curran from our Michigan studio in conjunction with designers in Korea, is quite sophisticated for this segment. In keeping with the "more than expected" approach to the Sonata, the available pallets on both the interior and exterior feel much more upscale than the rest of the competition. For instance, all of the exterior paints have a subtle metallic treatment and there is even a metallic red available on the exterior. On the interior, all trim levels offer a two-tone treatment and there is even a dark red and black leather option available on the SE trim.
Amick: What will the future of Hyundai designs look like?
Hudson: “Fluidic Sculpture” will continue to evolve. You will see us continue to build design equity with a look that is distinctly and positively Hyundai.
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