Luc Donckerwolke: Trust in design has pushed Hyundai Motor Group forward

Luc Donckerwolke and Freddie in Munich 2

Car Design News sat down with Hyundai design boss Luc Donckerwolke to discuss the GV80 Coupe concept and his transition into the C-suite 

It has not been long since Luc Donckerwolke was promoted to the upper echelons of Hyundai management, taking on the role of Group president toward the end of 2022 in a step that seemed both inevitable and indicative of the organisation’s respect for design.

Design directors often talk about the transition into leadership roles as more of a “people management” position, and less of a hands-on activity. While Donckerwolke has certainly shouldered more responsibility in terms of management, strategy and communications, he tells Car Design News that he is still very much active with the pencil. Speaking ahead of the inaugural Car Design Event and not long after a flight from Seoul to Munich, the design veteran spoke about the GV80 Coupe concept, overseeing multiple brands and how to play as part of a team.

Luc Donckerwolke and Freddie in Munich

Luc Donckerwolke (right) chats to CDN in Munich

Car Design News: What is your view on the importance of design at a senior management level – what can that kind of trust in design bring to a brand?

Luc Donckerwolke: I’ve worked in a lot of companies where design is controlled by people that don’t know much about design. The reason why I left Europe seven years ago for Hyundai is because I met a visionary who was not telling me about design, but about visions. I realised I was speaking with somebody that was really thinking about the future. He explained that he wasn’t going to hire a designer and tell them what to do. It was, “You’re the designer, you do it.”


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