Car Design Review 7: Todd Willing, Ford


Todd Willing of Ford describes his early influences and picks out some key points of his career to date

To me, visual storytelling plays an essential role in successful automotive design and connecting with people. It was something [former Ford global chief creative officer] J Mays constantly impressed on us. For J, creating a design narrative was crucial.

I grew up around motor vehicles as my father ran a garage in Hobart, the capital of the Australian island of Tasmania, south of Melbourne. I’ve always had a passion for them, my family would probably describe it as an obsession. Like a lot of designers, unaware that it was a potential career, I started off sketching cars just for the love of it. When the time came in high school to choose a vocation for work experience, a chance meeting with a childhood friend of my father (who happened to be a programme planner at Ford) offered me an opportunity to get exposure to the industry. Shortly after I received a letter from Ford officially inviting me to see its Melbourne studio. I was only 15 at the time so it was quite overwhelming. I flew across from Tasmania and realising that you could earn a living from something that you love blew my mind. From that point on, I wasn’t considering any other direction.

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