It's officially Mike Simcoe's first week on the job behind the top desk of GM Design--when I was in Nashville two weeks ago for the Cruze launch I had the opportunity to sit down with Stuart Cooper, Strategic Design Manager for Global Chevrolet, and chat about his expectations for the new regime.

After coming through the UK's famed Royal College of Art in the early 90's, GM poached Cooper from Ford of Europe a little over 10 years ago. Since then he's moved from a senior design role into his new gig for Global Chevrolet.

Check out Coopers take on Mike Simcoe, Ed Welburn and GM Design in this exclusive sit down with GMI:

So Ed Welburn is retiring...

First off Ed Welburn is an absolutely fantastic role model for any designer, a true gentleman. We have 10 global studios and he's overseen all of them- I mean to look after one is challenging enough. He's been absolutely fantastic.

What do you make of Mike Simcoe?

With Mike Simcoe coming in he's the first non-American to lead GM Design, which is interesting because he may have more of a global outlook than Ed because he's worked more in Korea and Australia and of course in the States as well, so he's moved around quite a bit. I think he'll have a fresher outlook on the actual global stance.

As for the way that the studios are going to be run I haven't got a clue. He was my boss for a while in the States and he was fantastic to work for. His eye for detail and surface language is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.

Do you see fundamental changes in the relationship between design and engineering, will design all of a sudden have more teeth?

My neighbor is a senior manufacturing manager and he absolutely hates Mike Simcoe because of the challenges he gives to the engineers for quality, precision, fit and finish- surface finish, he'e really going to push that.

We have a global architecture studio which is the link between powertrain and engeering before it comes into the studio anyways, there's a strong link already we've had that for about the last 5 years. The links with engineering have gotten better over that time anyways, so I can definitely see a continuation of that.

What do you think the largest change will be under Simcoe?

Because of his global interaction, it will be interesting to see how [future] design is related to the rest of the world.

Chevrolet's biggest market is China so it will be interesting to see how they react design wise. Because sometimes it can be difficult to get across to the Chinese market, for Chevrolet especially, that's our biggest challenge over the next few years.

So do you see Chinese tastes leading Chevrolet Design moving forward?

Already, there really is quite an international flavor in the studios. We have people from India, Korea, Australia, Germany, France and South Africa.

Such an international team of people and that can only be given thanks to Ed Welburn, hes built up these global teams, immense, 10 global operations around the world. Before Ed, they were all separate.

Having worked with both, what do you think the biggest difference is between Welburn and Simcoe?

Ed Welburn is a pure gentleman, he knows what he likes, he always listens to your presentation, goes through everything and he will direct you in a certain direction

I think Mike is a bit more methodical, he's a much quieter character- I wouldn't say introvert- but very quiet. He thinks about it and then he'll give you a direction- he likes to absorb a bit more.

They're both really passionate, GM lifers, it's sad to see Ed go, but it's also nice to see Mike come in…

I think it's because I've worked much closer with Mike in the past that I'm excited to work for him. You know hes from Australia, I'm from the UK so we have that kinda "foreigners" bond, we can relate a bit more [laughs].