He also designed the Maserati MC12. Serious street cred.
Frank Stephenson is one of the most recognizable names in modern automotive design. His resume speaks for itself: McLaren P1, Maserati MC12, and Ferrari F430, to name just a few. Prior to his current position at Lilium Aviation where he leads a team of designers working on flying taxis and work involving his own independent design studio, he was lead designer at McLaren. Needless to say, the British-American is a superstar car designer. He's also been releasing some cool videos where he discusses and sketches some of his best-known past projects.
It's the sketching aspect, even with just a pencil and paper, is something Stephenson feels is an essential part of the process. That's why he has a fundamental disagreement with Bugatti.
"Hats off to them. I just would never buy one of those cars, because it is completely in contrast with the way I think design should be approached," said Stephenson. "Obviously, we need to use computers in this day of age. We would be foolish not to, but we don't want computers to take over the design process. What they are actually doing… believe it or not, is a fact: computers can design cars."
There's another critical element missing when the design process is done this way: "What they can't measure is the human factor, the human feeling of designing that product. And that is something that comes individually from who is designing that vehicle. It's almost as if the design is the person designing it. It's his/her genetic connection and emotions in that design," he added.
Stephenson is a firm believer in the human touch approach to automotive design and that "It cannot be improved on by a machine. You can have it done faster, figure out things faster, or try more options, but the actual stimulus, the inspiration, the emotional value of the design does not come from a computer."
Give the rate in which new vehicles, not necessarily just supercars and hypercars, are being launched these days, we wouldn't be surprised to see mainstream brands to favor Bugatti's fast design philosophy and technologies. Time is money, after all.
As for Stephenson, he intends to follow Bugatti's design progress but remains firm in that he'd "never recommend using computers early on in a design program."