If you look at a modern-day Toyota model such as the C-HR crossover or the all-new Camry, you might just notice that the Japanese automaker has stopped playing it safe with its designs.
Responsible in part for this development is 43-year old American designer Ian Cartabiano, a studio chief designer at Toyota’s Calty Design Research Inc.
Since Akio Toyoda made it clear that there will be “no more boring cars”, Cartabiano, using some proper California flair, helped design the likes of the C-HR, new Camry, FT-4X Concept and even the all-new Supra, which will be unveiled this fall.
“The era of boring cars, of bland cars and anonymous design is over,” said Cartabiano at Toyota’s global headquarters. “It’s what Akio expects. When the president says something like that, it really allows designers to feel creative freedom.”
This massive shift in aesthetics is also getting noticed by the likes of John Manoogian, reports Autonews, a professor of transportation design at the College for Creative Studies, as well as a former GM designer.
“It’s so difficult to get a large corporation to understand the importance of design as a strategic tool and a product differentiator. Apple understands this. Mr Toyoda understands it as well and has unleashed Toyota’s designers to be as creative as possible,” said Manoogian.
When it comes to the C-HR, looking at its rear quarter-panel is enough to make Cartabiano acknowledge the car has a “crazy-ass shape”. He also thinks that the side panel of the C-HR “would look really cool hung on the wall as a piece of art.”
As for the Camry, it really stands out thanks to its C-pillar design, which allows the rear window to curl around the sides of the car.
“In the beginning, it was like, ‘Oh that would be cool, but they’ll never make anything like this. But then, engineering’s getting excited and we’re figuring out ways to do it.” Details like the door handle took four months to design, said Cartabiano, who made the initial 2-inch sketch of the new Camry on the edges of his calendar journal.
“I respect something that’s new but not perfect, rather than something that’s beautiful but nondescript,” added the designer. “I’d rather be challenged than made comfortable. Polarizing is OK.”