Frank’s Imaginative and prescient – Supercar Driver

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

Written by: Zheran Chen

Frank Stephenson has his imaginative and prescient. Along 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 change into one of the influential automotive designers over the previous three many years. 

Frank Stephenson sketches on a regular basis, it’s virtually a practice for him to choose up a ballpoint pen and let his creativity stream over any floor he can discover. Even throughout this interview, Frank sketches, it didn’t take lengthy for a clear sheet of paper to change into one thing actually outstanding.

Frank lives in an attractive, quiet nation home in England and can be the design director of a studio in London that bears his personal title. Some would say it’s virtually laborious 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 supposed), and even YouTuber. He’s now utilizing his creativity in virtually 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 means of the countryside, and even the surreal feeling of seeing a McLaren P1 for the primary time. In the present day, wherever you go, there’s sure to be a product with which Frank has some form of involvement.

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

It was within the 12 months 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 knowledgeable motocross rider. First, he gained the Junior Championship in Spain and started racing within the Nationwide Collection.

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 some extent. I used to be good however not successful, there’s an enormous distinction between being good and successful. I didn’t need to be finished 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 School of Design (ACCD) in Pasadena, California, he instantly determined it was the place he needed to go. “A faculty devoted to automotive design; I utilized with out hesitation”, Frank considers his faculty years to be probably the most memorable regardless of the each day pressures.

“I’ve misplaced monitor of what number of nights I’ve stayed up, it’s simply so laborious. You’ll all the time assume you might be gifted, however there are such a lot of gifted folks there, so I’ve a whole lot of respect for my classmates.
I feel I discovered extra from my classmates than I did from my lecturers”.

Frank will not be exaggerating, there have been 30 younger college students enrolled with him in 1983, whereas solely six graduated in 1986. Frank was supplied a Ford scholarship throughout his sophomore 12 months at ACCD, which finally 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 and so they employed him on the spot. It was an excellent 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 Collection was not sufficient for BMW’s ambitions. Since their acquisition of the Rover Group, the German big was contemplating an unprecedented enlargement with new additions similar to Land Rover, MINI, Triumph and Wolseley.

Frank’s supervisor on the time requested him to current an off-roader prototype utilizing the expertise of the just lately acquired Land Rover in six weeks. From the present standpoint, it’s virtually unimaginable.