Amko Leenarts, former head of interior design for Peugeot Automobiles, joinsin the newly created position of director-global interiors design strategy.
“My main goal as director of global interiors design strategy is to define the future design direction for the whole family of interiors worldwide, (so) that (they) can be clearly identified asand Lincoln products,” Leenarts tells WardsAuto in an interview.
Leenarts’s mission is clear-cut. The disparate designs evident over the years stray from the auto maker’s One Ford initiative, which aims for clear consistency across the product portfolio.
Based initially at Ford’s design studio in Merkenich, near Cologne, Germany, Leenarts’s agenda includes a plan to create more readily recognizable brand identities for Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
He will report to Group Vice President of Global Design and Chief Creative Officer J Mays, and will work with current Dearborn, MI-based head of interior design Scott Strong, whose role has a more focused design-delivery objective.
Leenarts’s “experience in working as part of an international team to integrate recognizable brand elements into new vehicle interior designs is particularly important as we continue to leverage our design talent around the globe," Mays says.
Leenarts brings sound credentials to the newly created design position. Over the course of his 12-year career atPeugeot Citroen, Leenarts was instrumental in incorporating a consistent design vision and establishing a coherent brand identity for the French auto maker’s interiors.
Since being named director of interior design at Peugeot Automobiles in 2008, he has been responsible for the creation of six notable show cars including the SR-1, BB-1, HR-1, EX-1 and SXC. Under his direction, Peugeot also created the acclaimed HX-1 concept, which Leenarts names as one of his favorites.
“The car shows a great modularity concept, a new architecture around the cockpit (and) a different balance between purity and complication – a form language that's typical Peugeot, with a beautiful color-and-trim exercise that emphasizes all the above.”
Leenarts also worked on the interior design of Peugeot’s 908RC and the as-yet unseen 607 successor. He led the production design of the 508 interior and the recently revealed 208, a project that signaled a new design language for the auto maker’s interiors.
“The new position of the instrument cluster, a crazy idea to start off with, truly put the basic architecture and ergonomics in question,” Leenarts says, calling the 208’s design “the result of years of teamwork with the engineering and ergonomic departments.”
Ford’s history and company philosophy was the main attraction for Leenarts to leave Peugeot and join the U.S. auto maker, he says.
“There's no other company that operates under the same brand name with such a variety in their product lineup globally,” Leenarts says. “As global design director, I see a great challenge in moving the interior design language forward.”
Leenarts studied interior architecture at the Academy of Arts in Groningen, the Netherlands, before receiving a master’s degree in vehicle design from the Royal College of Art in London.