Interview: Marek Reichman, Design Director, Aston Martin
by Nick Hull    15 Aug 2007
 
Reichman (center) with his brother Julian Reichman (right), competing with his Emeryson-JAP Formula 3 at the Goodwood Revival. Click for larger images
View into the reception area at Gaydon headquarters
Rapide interior showed a use of new colors and materials: ash wood, polished aluminium center stack, Jaeger LeCoutre clock and silk rugs
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Photos: Aston Martin, Brett Patterson

CDN: Like Bentley, the brand has moved massively in a few years from making a handful of cars for anglophile connoisseurs to making 7000 cars last year, selling globally to footballers and Russian billionaires. You've popularized what was there before, but what's next big step for the brand?

A selection of the new finishes offered by Aston Martin
3D chronograph instruments in V8 Vantage
Rapide's trunk storage with wine flutes and integrated chess set
The Aston Martin range
Marek Reichman
Aston Martin Rapide concept (Detroit 2006)

"We don't set out to target such celebrities but the global popularity we now have means we're the 'hot ticket', and people want to be seen in an Aston Martin. The next big trend? Probably personalisation, because you truly have the possibility of a bespoke product with an Aston Martin. We'll do a lot more of it: a myriad choice of colors and materials, different leathers, different grains."

"Also, making things easy to use and intuitive is a common thread for me as a designer. It's my personal edict and I always try to apply that ethos. Time is a very precious commodity for our customers and pure enjoyment of our products needs to be further enhanced. You shouldn't need a degree to operate systems in a sports car, they should be intuitive. Our green credentials are good - we have only ever produced 30,000 Aston Martins. Over 85 percent are still on the roads, so they're the ultimate sustainable car, not throw-away items."

CDN: In the role you now have, what is your biggest challenge?

"Keeping it going, staying at the top. It's by no means easy to constantly have to think about what's new, what's next, how we stay at the top of the tree. Last year we were voted 'coolest car brand' plus 'best production car' by CDN - by automotive designers themselves - so it's never easy. But it doesn't frighten me, it's what all design chiefs need."

CDN: How have you changed over time as a designer?

"Maybe like a fine wine, When you first start out you're like a Beaujolais - a bit prickly, a bit of a sour taste, but its OK, it gets you drunk. Now I think about perfection far more. As a youngster it's about churning out ideas fast, you don't necessarily refine them, but now refinement and perfection is where I'm at - and I enjoy it. I don't think I enjoyed that bit when I first started out - I saw it as laborious then. 'A 5mm rad over a 4mm rad? Oh, come on, can't I just do another car now? What does it matter?' Now the guys in the studio probably think 'uh, oh here he comes, another 2mm change'; you become more painful!"

CDN: What achievements are you most proud of?

"There are three big peaks: First, getting this job, the best job in world. Secondly, the Rapide: it got four magazine covers initially and is the first four-door Aston since 1939. Just brilliant, I can't wait until the day it's actually launched. And finally, meeting James Bond and developing a car for him, then seeing him drive it in Casino Royale. Shaking Daniel Craig's hand and him telling me: 'You've got the best job in the world' - well, to hear that from James Bond, it was great!"

CDN: How would you describe to somebody what is good car design?

"Car design that makes you stop, makes your jaw drop. It has to create an opinion. I don't like 'milk toast' design and even at the lower end of the market it's possible to achieve this. But a great stance, great proportions and, finally, beauty are all necessary ingredients."

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