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SOURCE: Automotive News

Gilles: Chrysler design will become more 'organic'
Bradford Wernle
Automotive News
August 20, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Chrysler LLC's new design chief wants to lead the company into a new era of more organic shapes, improved cooperation between design and engineering, and sexier vehicles.

"It's definitely time for a new aesthetic at Chrysler," says Ralph Gilles, newly anointed vice president of design, speaking in an interview at the launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 here. "We're done with the 'Edge' look."

That look characterized recent Chrysler vehicles, including the redesigned fifth generation minivans and SUVs like the Dodge Nitro.

Gilles wants Chrysler products to have a more "organic" look. He pointed to concepts like the Dodge Zeo electric sports car and the Chrysler ecoVoyager as hints of how future Chrysler vehicles might look.

Gilles, 38, was chosen to head Chrysler's design team this week after Trevor Creed, 62, retired. Gilles takes his new post Sept. 1. Creed, a native of Wolverhampton, England, started with Chrysler in 1985 and became design chief in 2000.

Gilles said the leadership change reflects an effort to more closely integrate the design and engineering teams.

Creed reported directly to CEO Bob Nardelli, but Gilles will report instead to Frank Klegon, executive vice president of product development.

Gilles has led Chrysler's advanced interiors design team. The interior of the 2009 Ram is an example of that work. Gilles calls it the best interior ever to come out of Chrysler. Redesigned interiors on the 2009 Jeep Compass and Patriot will further demonstrate Chrysler's new-found focus on interior quality.

He said one of his top priorities going forward will be to "get this monkey off our backs on interiors," and he believes the Ram interior does that. Recent Chrysler vehicles have been criticized for cheap-looking plastic interiors.

Another priority of the Gilles era will be "getting our cars to be sexy again," he said.
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SOURCE: Motor Trend

Could Creed's early retirement lead to a renaissance for Chrysler design?
Posted 8/19/2008 by Todd Lassa

DETROIT - He's 63, just two years short of the traditional retirement age, but only a couple years older than Chrysler president Jim Press. Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed's credits, according to chairman Bob Nardelli, include the new Dodge Challenger, Chrysler 300C, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Viper, Dodge Ram, and Plymouth Prowler.

What? No mention of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger?

Nardelli's canned press statement almost sounds like "left to pursue other interests"-type spin. "We thank him for his contributions to the company and wish him well in his retirement." Rumors out of Auburn Hills for months have intimated that ex-design chief Tom Gale has been lurking about the Chrysler design studio, breathing down Creed's neck. Cerberus long ago acknowledged Gale as a consultant to Chrysler's new owners. And, of course, Gale's son is credited with the exterior design of the production Dodge Challenger.

To set the record straight, it must be said that we in automotive punditry give too much design credit to one man or woman, when in fact a whole group of designers contribute to the success or failure of any given car or truck. Creed's job was to pick the winning design of a model and sell it to management. He got the top job at Chrysler after DaimlerChrysler had approved the 300 under Gale's design leadership. The first cars approved on Creed's watch were the Dodge Magnum, Chrysler 300C Touring (for the European market), and Dodge Charger. Englishman Creed certainly brought a European sensibility to Chrysler and wanted to sell Americans on the idea that a hatchback or wagon could be more elegant than a sedan.

It's also common knowledge that Creed did not get along with Freeman Thomas, the forward-thinking, if somewhat eccentric designer, who penned the Dodge Super 8 rear-drive sedan concept that lead to the 300/Magnum/Charger and who quickly left for Ford after Creed replaced Gale.
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If he was the guy responsible for the current crop of Chryslers that to my eyes are hideous abominations, this is great news!
Well, the one post makes the point that Creed was more of a politican after his ascention than a designer. So perhaps his focus was off.

Regardless, I think that Gilles would make a great design chief. He seems like the real deal and doesn't mince his words - all good traits.
 

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Chrysler LLC's new design chief wants to lead the company into a new era of more organic shapes, improved cooperation between design and engineering, and sexier vehicles.
The most important part here is the better integration of design and engineering. That is a must and it's a move that all other autocompanies are doing. GM has been pushing for this as they now have a single world-wide design and engineering budget. It's paying off in many respects.

Same should hold here - and Cerberus should push to get this accomplished ASAP.
"It's definitely time for a new aesthetic at Chrysler," says Ralph Gilles, newly anointed vice president of design, speaking in an interview at the launch of the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 here. "We're done with the 'Edge' look."

That look characterized recent Chrysler vehicles, including the redesigned fifth generation minivans and SUVs like the Dodge Nitro.

Gilles wants Chrysler products to have a more "organic" look. He pointed to concepts like the Dodge Zeo electric sports car and the Chrysler ecoVoyager as hints of how future Chrysler vehicles might look.
I'm all for this, as long as the term "organic" doesn't mean we'll get jelly-bean styled minivans and sedans. That's not what we need. I dont think the new minivans - if they have the "edge look" or not - are bad looking products. But there are definitely holes in the rest of the lineup stylistically.

A bit of shame really - Chrysler used to design the nicest looking products of the Big 3 - and now they are an also ran. I hope Gilles can get them back to where they should be with no excuses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's also common knowledge that Creed did not get along with Freeman Thomas, the forward-thinking, if somewhat eccentric designer, who penned the Dodge Super 8 rear-drive sedan concept that lead to the 300/Magnum/Charger and who quickly left for Ford after Creed replaced Gale.
I wonder if Freeman Thomas could return to Chrysler? Or will Freeman Thomas might be at the head of Ford styling? (that's will be ironic, Elwood Engel, a protege of Ford head stylist Georges Walker, go to Chrysler after Bordinat sucedded to Walker and Walker lobbied Chrysler to hire one of his boys Joe Oros or Elwood Engel)
 

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So he is responsible for the Challenger, 300, PT Cruiser, Ram, etc.? That's fine.

But he's also responsible for the Sebring, Avenger, Compass, etc.? That's not so fine.

Of course, if he was just picking the winning design, he must have had some incompetent or cash-strapped designers under him. Or he has bad taste.

Even so, he is still a member of the team. His whole job can not just be picking the winning design. He works on these cars. So for Chrysler's and good taste's sake, it is good he is gone.
 
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