Ford Kinetic Design aims to make the dynamic drive of Ford vehicles come alive through their interior and exterior styling. It uses bold lines and full surfaces to visualise energy in motion, so Ford cars look as though they are moving even when stationary.
Martin Smith is Ford’s executive design director, and he created the Ford kinetic Design philosophy in 2004. The SAV concept car in 2005 was the first use of Ford kinetic Design, and this concept later evolved into what is now the S-MAX.
Since that initial iteration, the new design language has informed the look and feel of the Galaxy, Mondeo, Kuga, Focus, Fiesta and Ka models. These cars were designed to evoke an emotional response. Martin Smith’s vision is that every person who looks at a Ford kinetic Design model immediately thinks ‘I want one’.
Footage can be found online of an interview with Martin Smith where he has an in-depth discussion of the inspiration behind Ford kinetic Design with Erika Tsubaki, who is the studio supervisor for design strategy and futuring. This discussion reveals some fascinating insights into how the new design philosophy came about.
The iosis concept made its debut in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. This design idea was directly influenced by the SAV concept car, and was built to make ‘energy in motion’ a visual reality.
The integral signatures of the Ford design philosophy were the inverse trapezoid air intake below the grille and the sharply defined wheel arch. The designers also identified the strong shoulder and dynamic undercut line as key graphic features.
The inviting interior of the iosis concept engageS the driver’s senses. According to executive design director, Martin Smith, interior design is as important as, if not more important than, the exterior. The contemporary appearance blended technology with real-world practicality, and the final design featured fine leather and neoprene to create a dramatic atmosphere.
Ford then transformed the iosis concept into the production-ready Mondeo. The designers retained the key messages of the original concept, amplifying many elements of the design language to new levels. All aspects of the design philosophy work in concert to deliver a strong, graceful presence that truly embodies ‘energy in motion’.
At the Paris Motor Show in 2006, the iosis X concept made its debut. This concept had the challenge of proving that Ford kinetic Design could translate to models other than the Mondeo. It applied kinetic Design principles to a completely different car and pushed the boundaries of the ‘energy in motion’ philosophy. This evolution previewed the design of Ford cars of the future.
The designs of iosis, Mondeo and iosis X shared many common traits, such as the Daylight Opening arc of the side window. The bold line running the length of the body featured on all three models. Iosis X shifted Ford’s focus to creating emotional products, delivering quality execution and building the design muscle of the brand.
The Ford Kuga built on the lessons learnt from iosis X, and it was a completely new direction for the brand. Ford launched the new model in 2008, complete with All Wheel Drive. As Ford’s first entry into the crossover market, the Kuga used powerful form language and bold graphics to create a striking impression of energy in motion.
The Ford kinetic Design philosophy took another leap forward with the Verve Concept. Ford launched this concept in 2007 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and it came to embody a bold vision of a new kind of small car. This key moment in Ford’s history marks when it became a world leader in small car design, creating models which appealed to individual customers. The full surfaces and sleek roofline of the Verve Concept explored new possibilities for expressing Ford kinetic Design through a smaller model, while retaining the brand’s key messages.
The Verve Concept was engineered for a technology-savvy generation of car buyers, and pioneered new in-car connectivity features. Kinetic Design revolutionised the interior of this concept and linked the cabin design seamlessly with the exterior.
Ford announced the new Fiesta model a year later, in 2008. The Fiesta embodied kinetic Design in its purest form, featuring the signature Ford lower grille, defined wheel arches and dynamic beltline. The interior had a contemporary design that bordered on the futuristic, and an entertainment system that was optimised for use with a mobile phone. The Human Machine Interface was another highly sophisticated interior feature that connected the driver to the car in a completely new way.
At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show Ford unveiled the iosis-MAX concept, which envisioned what a Ford Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) would be like. This evolution of the Ford kinetic Design showcased a plethora of brand new concepts. From the way the doors opened to the advanced aerodynamics, every aspect of the iosis-MAX concept was new and different.
Every aspect of the iosis-MAX brought design and function together. The interior space was used intelligently to increase practicality and the angular styling created a dramatic feel inspired by futuristic films and architecture. The sweeping lines and graceful curves redefined the popular consensus of what an MAV should look like.
This concept heralded a new direction for the Ford design team, and for the industry as a whole. Every major manufacturer has the clear aim of leading design evolution and the purpose of Ford Kinetic Design is to be at the forefront. Ford has learnt from the evolution of the design concepts that the kinetic Design philosophy can be applied to any model with clear and tangible results.