Hyundai Motor nabs design guru from BMW

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Hyundai Motor nabs design guru from BMW

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Ever since Kia Motors scouted former Audi designer Peter Schreyer as its chief design officer in 2006, the country’s second largest automaker has seen sales soar. Now, it’s Hyundai Motor’s turn.

Yesterday, Hyundai Motor, an affiliate of Kia, said that it has recruited Christopher Chapman, former BMW designer, as its chief designer at the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, California. Chapman will be in charge of new car and concept design for Korea’s largest automaker, filling the post left vacant by General Motors designer Philip Zak.

“We are glad to work with leading designer Chapman,” said an official from the automaker. “Hyundai Design Center will continue to develop innovative vehicles for both the United States and global auto markets.”

Chapman studied auto design at the Art Center College of Design before beginning his career at the Isuzu Technical Center of America in California in 1989.

He joined BMW DesignworksUSA in 1994, taking the lead on the German luxury automaker’s designs for the X5 sport activity vehicle and the X Coupe concept car.

He has also been involved in the body designs of the X5, X3 and Z4 sports car as well as the BMW 1-series E87 small-size five-door family hatchback.

Since 2008, Chapman also directed BMW’s transportation design department, taking charge of DesignworksUSA’s external partners in aviation, marine and public mobility.

“With over 22 years of experience in the industry working on esteemed automotive brands, Chris provides a level of talent that will help further our design portfolio,” said Oh Suk-geun, head of design and vice president at Hyundai Motor. “We are thrilled to have Christopher Chapman as chief designer for Hyundai and look forward to continuing the strong momentum of our vehicle designs.”

With Chapman’s recruitment, industry officials expect a significant change in Hyundai Motor’s design strategy. Zak, Hyundai’s former design chief who joined the Korean automaker from GM in 2009 and returned there earlier this year, introduced Hyundai’s fluid sculpture design seen in its major sedans like the Avante and Sonata.

There were reports this year that Hyundai tried to recruit former BMW designer Chris Bangle, one of the most innovative automobile designers, but Bangle joined Samsung Electronics.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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