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Piaskowski steps up as Ford’s European design chief

Man of the moment: After returning to Detroit from Melbourne recently, Joel Piaskowski is now on his way to Cologne in Germany to replace Martin Smith as Ford’s chief designer for Europe.

Former top Ford Australia designer Piaskowski to replace Smith as Euro design chief

Ford logo29 May 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

UPDATED: 30/05/2014ANOTHER Ford designer with strong ties to Australia has been reassigned to a crucial new role for the US auto giant, with Joel Piaskowski named as the incoming director of design for Ford of Europe.

Ford has also revealed to GoAuto this week that experienced Australian designer Todd Willing will return to Melbourne from Detroit to become director of the company’s Asia-Pacific design centre, starting in July.

Mr Piaskowski was, up until recently, in charge of the Australian-based design team and now replaces Martin Smith, who has led the Blue Oval brand’s European design team for the past 10 years and has elected to retire at the end of this year.

While Mr Piaskowski, 45, officially takes over the job on July 1, 64-year-old Mr Smith will stay on for another six months to work on an unspecified global project studying future design direction for Ford.

The man behind the new-generation Ford Mustang sportscar and F-150 pick-up, Mr Piaskowski joined Ford in 2010 as director of exterior design for The Americas after a short stint as president of Mercedes’ advanced design centre in California and, prior to that, six years as design chief for Hyundai in the US and 12 years at General Motors.

Mr Piaskowski was appointed head of the Australian-based Asia-Pacific design team in January 2013 and worked briefly on a variety of local and overseas models including the final Aussie Falcon and Territory – due for release at the end of the year – the facelifted 2015 Ranger utility, all-new Ranger-based Everest SUV and the Chinese-market Escort small sedan.

He recently returned to Detroit to oversee Ford’s advanced design studios globally while a major restructure was underway after Moray Callum took over the top design chief role from J Mays at the end of last year.

Among these changes, two other designers who have presided over the Australian studio – Brit Chris Svensson and American Craig Metros – have received promotions.

Mr Svensson has taken over Mr Callum’s previous role as lead designer for The Americas, while Mr Metros is heading back to Detroit from Broadmeadows to become exterior design chief for all North American vehicles.

Mr Metros has spent the past five years in Melbourne. He succeeded Mr Piaskowski as Asia-Pacific design chief for a brief period and is now handing over to Mr Willing, who will repatriate from Detroit.

Mr Willing is a former exterior design manager of Ford Australia and was responsible for the look of the 2011 SZ Territory, among other vehicles. He has worked on a variety of programs for the Asia-Pacific and North American markets.

Announcing Mr Piaskowski’s new appointment, which will see him move to Ford’s European headquarters in Cologne, Germany, Mr Callum said: “Joel’s international experience and product versatility are particularly important as we continue to leverage our design talent around the globe to deliver truly world-class products.”

Reporting to Mr Callum and Ford’s group vice-president of global product development Raj Nair, Mr Piaskowski will lead the design of all concept and production vehicles in Europe and support Ford’s global design initiatives.

Mr Smith was instrumental in developing Ford’s “kinetic design” language and oversaw the design of a string of models over the years such as the Focus, Fiesta, Kluga, S-Max and Mondeo. He also led the team behind a host of concept cars, including the stunning 2011 Evos and the Iosis series.

“Martin’s leadership and passion for great design not only invigorated Ford of Europe’s line-up but influenced Ford designs globally,” Mr Nair said.

“In his new role, Martin will continue to help our world-class design team create future vehicles that are true to our Ford values, even more distinct from the competition and meaningful to our customers.”

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