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Thread: 10 questions with...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    10 questions with...

    10 Questions With Bruce Campbell - Vice President, Nissan Design America, Inc.

    1. How has the Internet influenced or changed design in recent years ? in terms of bringing the world cultures closer, in terms of quicker feedback and response from the marketplace and in how you do track consumer needs or taste?

    The Internet is a "one dimensional" source of information, but it is extremely helpful for getting a quick read on what is popular or current. For example, we conducted an Internet survey of what interests were most relevant to young people. We were able to make the connection between cars and gaming, deciding to integrate the Xbox 360 into the Nissan URGE Concept. While the basic concept of URGE came from other research and studies, the Internet led us to develop a cockpit where the car became the game and the game became the car, an industry first.

    2. Nissan Design America played a major role in the design of the current Nissan Quest minivan, which is somewhat revolutionary in the class. Recently, several major manufacturers have announced that they are leaving the minivan segment in favor of crossover SUVs. What is the future of the minivan and what can we expect the mainstream "people movers" to look like 10 years from now?

    There?s no denying the popularity of crossovers as an alternative to large family SUVs, but the minivan segment will not disappear because the needs of the young family will always be there. Minivans remain viable because they continue to offer functionality in ways that neither sedans nor SUVs can match. One important "evolution" of the minivan, which we?ve taken the lead on with Quest, is that the design must be more compelling and attractive. The buyer attitude has to change to "I want to have a minivan," verses "I have to have a minivan."

    3. How do you decide how far to take a "next generation" design of a successful nameplate? For example, the 2007 Altima has been praised by some media for being easily recognized as an Altima, while others have said that the design should have been less "evolutionary" and more revolutionary."

    To revolutionize the already revolutionary Altima simply did not make sense. The strategy was to enhance every aspect of the design from the interior, to the iconic headlamps and tail lamps. One of our ongoing challenges is to find the balance between recognition and freshness. With this next-generation Altima, we tried to express both the nameplate and its newness. The 2008 Altima Coupe was developed concurrently, so we knew both cars needed to be more exciting and passionate.

    4. Where do you see sports car design heading in the future? What about the next generation Z ? must it always have ties to the original 240Z or is there a point where you?ve taken the original concept as far as it can go and you start completely fresh?

    The current 350Z, when it was introduced in 2002, marked a point of departure. It signaled the birth of the "modern Z," offering design that is clearly distinct from its predecessors while retaining the spirit of the original ? not only in design, but in driving exhilaration and performance value. The following generations of the Z will continue to be modern, with very emotional design impact. The DNA of the 240Z will always be present, but the visual cues might be less prominent.

    5. Most people think of designers as the artists or rebels of the auto industry. As the head of an international design studio, how do you reconcile the corporate demands of your position with the artistic mindset of a designer?

    I will offer a different opinion ? conventional thinking says that designers are seen as artist or rebels. I prefer to think of our role as closer to that of a chemist - that carefully mixes the elements of design (art and beauty, thoughtfully engineered, and manufactured, planned and marketed to real people) and adding the most important ingredient ? creativity. For me, this definition fits smoothly into the modern corporate culture, by inclusiveness, rather than being an elite rebel.

    6. The Nissan Bevel Concept, which debuted at this year?s North American International Auto Show, might be the first vehicle to acknowledge the needs of aging Baby Boomers. What are some of the challenges in designing vehicles for specific demographic groups?

    When the customer profile is clear this is a relatively simple job because we can focus on specific needs and tastes to deliver a creative answer. In the case of the Nissan Bevel, the solution for the "everyday hero" baby-boomer was to accommodate his hobbies and activities. The challenge comes when you?re trying to please a broad range of buyers across different demographics without turning anyone off, like with our best-selling Altima or even the new Versa, which appeals to a wide range of buyers.

    7. You have recently been involved with the design of Nissan North America?s new headquarters building in Cool Springs, Tennessee. What was that experience like?

    In one word: fantastic! It?s not often that you can work with a creative group of architects and help "pen" a significant new building. I?m proud to say that the building will be artistically beautiful and a very inviting workplace environment. The new NNA headquarters will be a modern and timeless design ? an iconic signature on Nashville?s skyline.

    8. The Nissan URGE Concept offered a look at potential 3-passenger sports car seating and a very open, exposed, motorcycle-like interior. What?s next in terms of innovative packaging or layouts?

    As we begin to focus on a small car package, the reality is that we need to accommodate people who are growing larger. Once the North American attitude of "bigger is better" can be shed ? we can move ahead with cost-effective, creative and flexible ideas of how to package people, cargo and powerplants.

    9. The development time for a new vehicle, from concept to showroom, has shortened considerably in recent years. How has the design process changed as part of this trend?

    This is not just a trend, but a new way of life. We have to start the design process earlier with sound levels of research and planning. This is followed by charting design directions early ? and sticking by them. New technology is helping us realize the development phases quickly and efficiently.

    10. Where will we see the greatest areas of innovation in the next five or 10 years ? in interior design or exterior?

    I believe that the most innovative aspect of design in the next ten years will come in the area of "materials" ? for both exteriors and interiors. Interiors need to shed the feeling of too much plastic. We need to find substitute materials that offer a feeling of richness. For the exteriors, the high cost of raw materials and the demand for more durable "sins" will drive the automotive industry to offer innovative alternatives to sheet metal and aluminum. Other innovations are very likely in areas like glass technology, using new molding techniques and E.L. shading, and in wheel/tire systems, which are well on their way with run-flat, tire monitoring and integrated wheel/tire designs like we used on the Actic and Bevel concept.

    Bruce Campbell ? On a personal note

    One might assume that the head of Nissan Design in North America is a car fanatic with gasoline in his veins. In my case this is not true ? my passion is pure design ? I just happen to specialize in automotive design. My foundation was set in Detroit. After graduating from design school at CSS, I moved to San Diego and began my career as an Industrial Designer. I was involved in advanced transportation systems, product design and a couple of "skunk-works" projects for other Japanese car manufacturers.

    In 1980, I was fortunate to join a small group that founded Nissan Design International (called Nissan Design America today). I have been around long enough to have the perspective of all the changes of Nissan. The current state of Nissan is the most exciting and being part of the process is very rewarding. In other words, the dream is still very alive! NDA has a long, colorful and very successful history, with past leaders and award winning products. It?s my honor to foster this special culture and aid in Nissan?s growth.

    Even if I?m not a real "car-guy" ? I do have a favorite car, it?s my fully restored 1963 Mini Cooper S. Unfortunately it sits in the corner of my garage, buried under many boxes. With some luck, and if my travel schedule permits, this icon of great design will be on the road again very soon.

    About Bruce Campbell

    Bruce Campbell is Vice President, Design for Nissan Design America, Inc. (NDA). He is responsible for leading the development of projects assigned to NDA ? San Diego and NDA-Farmington Hills, Mich. He has worked on various projects including Altima, Xterra, Sentra, Quest and the full-size truck and SUV.

    Since joining NDA in 1980, he has worked as chief designer for the corporation?s industrial design projects, chief designer of the Gobi Show Car and principal designer on various Nissan projects, including the "Hardbody" Truck, Pulsar NX, NX 2000, Cocoon show car and the Nissan Quest Minivan. He also holds a dozen design-related U.S. and foreign patents.

    Prior to joining NDA, Campbell was director of design for Tesa Design, a consulting design firm specializing in transportation and product design.

    Campbell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in industrial design from the Society of Arts and Crafts in 1974. He has been a member of the Industrial Design Society of America since 1973.

  2. #2
    mrblanche
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    Re: 10 questions with...

    Question #11:

    Why do so many Nissans have ridiculous, overly-stylized taillights?

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 10 questions with...

    Quote Originally Posted by mrblanche
    Question #11:

    Why do so many Nissans have ridiculous, overly-stylized taillights?
    The same reason Subarus have "faces" that look like Cylons from "Battlestar Galactica" - it's the "look" they think distinguishes the brand...

  4. #4

    Re: 10 questions with...

    am I the only one who read Bruce Campbell and thought Evil Dead/Army of Darkness/Hercules/Xena?
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  5. #5
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: 10 questions with...

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    am I the only one who read Bruce Campbell and thought Evil Dead/Army of Darkness/Hercules/Xena?
    no

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