Personality Q&A: Christophe Dupont of Renault Design Asia

The Renault Koleos marks the brand’s entry into the D-segment of SUVs, of which the previous generation C-segment was at. The new SUV, which was launched early last month, brings the vehicle’s introduction to Malaysia early, ahead of Europe and China. At the recent launch, we managed to speak with Christophe Dupont, Managing Director of Renault Design Asia on the design language of the brand’s current line-up. For the French automotive brand, the Koleos was designed and engineered in South Korea amongst the company’s network of design studio’s around the world.

 

The new Renault Koleos showcases the brand’s latest design language also seen in the brand’s current Megane and Talisman. Please share with us the details of this new style.

CD: In 2009, our new design director Laurens Van Den Acker clarified the brand promise at Renault which paved the foundation for the new design. We are a human centric brand, and we make cars to make our customers’ lives better as it is in our tagline “Passion For Life”. Historically, our cars have been innovative, practical and people oriented. The translation for the current design language is to make things simple, sensual and warm.

For the new Koleos, we already had two flagship D-segment cars – the Espace and Talisman which provided the framework for designing the Koleos. Except we also wanted it to bear the traditional SUV design cues as well. While the Talisman is handsome and elegant, Espace being forward looking and iconic, the Koleos is powerful, athletic and robust. Although each car share a similar design language, each has its own personality and flavour.

 

Where does the brand get its inspiration for its car designs?

CD: When we design, we try to achieve three goals – modernity, functionality and identity. I feel that the combination of these three traits is what makes a great design. Modernity because a new product has to look fresh, contemporary and up to date. But it also can be achieved with leveraging new technologies, fabrication techniques and new technical solutions. This is what makes it the car of today.

 

Functionality is there because the product has to be used by people. If it doesn’t function, it lacks a good design. Identity is what gives the soul and character to a product. When it comes to identity, I feel that it is the most challenging because compared to modernity and functionality, it is the emotional area of design.

 

How do you nurture the creativity of your designers at Renault?

CD: We have a very multicultural design community, with over 30 nationalities represented in design. We think that this enhances the creativity of our organisation on a global level. On top of making sure our designers are passionate about cars, we also ensure that they are open to other design areas like product, fashion and architecture. We frequently send them out on trend missions, organised in groups of about 10, going out to major events in the art sector outside the field of automotive. They then return with trend inspirations that they can infuse into the designs.

 

When it comes to cars of the future, there seems to be a minimalist look to it across manufacturers. What are your thoughts on the future of car designs?

CD: With regards to electric car designs, if you decide to put an electric drivetrain into a vehicle that was initially designed to be with a fuel-combustion engine, then there wouldn’t be any freedom to express this change of technologies. But on the other hand, if you set out to design a car from the ground up, then you have a chance to modify the architecture of the vehicle to express more visibly the different drivetrains. For example, our Zoe is quite different compared to the mainstream line-up. But at the same time, it could be a fuel-combustion engine car, but this is taken with a different approach. We wanted to make this difference visible.

 

What do you think about Renault’s latest Koleos? Share with us your comments.