Nicole Crea is a design manager and consultant for product development. He has worked as a car designer at Pininfarina Concept Institute, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz cars and Giannini. In 1992, he ventured into designing of boats and motorcycles. He started his consultancy, “Victory design”, an engineering studio devoted to yacht design based in Naples. Upon moving to Germany, he worked for “Daimler-Chrysler” at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design studio in Sindelfingen (Stuttgart), from 1996 to 1998. From 2006 to 2008 he headed CISME (Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi sulla Mobilità Ecosostenibile), research center of studies on sustainable mobility. He is also the member of scientific committee as well as coordinator of all design activities for Tulton, a company that specializes in development of new products. He is a professor at the University of Chieti, and regularly collaborates with the Politecnico di Milano and University of Genoa.
He was gracious enough to answer some of our questions when he was at our campus.
Tell us a bit about your background. What you’ve been doing? What you intend to do in the future?
I was born in 1957, I am a car design manager, expert in industrial product development. I am also a university design teacher.
In 1982 I graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California (U.S.A.), in transportation design. The same year I moved to Turin, in Italy, where I started working as a designer for “Pininfarina Studi & Ricerche”.
From 1983 to 1986 I worked as a senior designer at “I.DE.A. Institute”.
In 1986 I was hired by Fiat Auto as design manager and studio chief in charge of exterior design of Fiat cars. Later and until 1992, I worked as manager of exterior design of Lancia cars at Centro Stile Lancia in Orbassano. One remarkable result of this engagement was the development of the Lancia Delta Integrale.
In 1992 I started my collaboration with “Giannini Automobili”. I was engaged as director of design and in charge of the development of new products. In only four years, I achieved the task to qualify Giannini as “carrozzeria” in ANFIA, Italian national association of coachbuilders.
In 1996, at the Turin International Auto Show, Giannini, in parallel with all the major Italian coachbuilders, has been invited by Fiat Auto to develop a show car based on the new Brava. Giannini presents Windsurf, a coupé with very advanced aerodynamic concept, which I entirely conceived and developed.
Meantime, since 1992, I widened my professional interest to the design of boats and motorcycles. I started consultancies with “Victory design”, engineering studio devoted to yacht design based in Naples, and “Majestic Auto”, Indian industry producer of motorcycle and mopeds. In both cases I had the opportunity to transfer my specific knowledge and the development technologies in use in the automotive field to these other product sectors.
From 1996 to 1998, I moved to Germany to work for “Daimler-Chrysler” at the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design studio in Sindelfingen (Stuttgart).
From 1999 on, my engagements are shared between consultancies and teaching. In fact in the following years I’ve been involved with the Universities of Pescara, Genoa and the Polytechnic of Milan as a teacher in their courses of studies.
During this period of time I developed projects with several companies such as Tecnema, Picchio, Bizzarrini and Tasso (now Italcar) in many cases creating a synergy between industry and the academic world. I organized my research activity by creating, with prof. Michele Platania, CISME (Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi sulla Mobilità Ecosostenibile), a center of studies on sustainable mobility. In 2006, I became director of the research center. Meanwhile, I became member of the scientific committee as well as coordinator of all design activities of Tulton, company specialized in new products development.
Since 2007, I’ve been with the Politecnico di Milano, where I teach and perform my research activity and tutorship of the master on Automobile Design organized with Alfa Romeo. I am now member of the research unit of Advanced design (UDR ADD). I am also member of the commission for evaluation of new patents of the Facoltà del Design of the Politecnico di Milano. I am also project leader of interdisciplinary projects for the Alta Scuola Politecnica (Politecnico di Milano and Politecnico di Torino).
I am in charge of Strategic Design course at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Genova.
Since 2009, I’ve been with the Scientific Committee of Milano car design, in the capacity of President. It’s a company devoted to research, design and production of prototypes and special vehicles and in charge of design development and consultant for D.EA. srl (Design and Architecture).
The ambition for the future is to do always better in my work and try to achieve something remarkable in terms of new products, as well as in my academic activity.
What does design mean to you?
Design is one of the most complex human activities. It is a mix of technology, art and social science. The core is innovation. Innovation has the peculiarity of being interdisciplinary. This requires the contribution of other competences. With the wide range of knowledge involved, coordination and organization of projects plays a fundamental role. Moreover, any project must be the development of a new idea, it cannot be the execution of some acquired know-how, as in case of some other disciplines. Design, also, is a way of expression, a communication mean. Design is the practice that allows dreams to come through. Man will always desire. This is why design practice will never stop.
How did you get interested in Automobile Design?
I started to read numbers on car plates, I recognized cars by looking at their wheels, I started to recognize sound hearing the noise of different cars, at school all my notebooks were full of car sketches. I started to play with cars, use them, take them apart, paint them, modify them. I could recognize cars anywhere. I could tell the date of first registration of a car by reading the number on the license plate. At 18 years old, I started to race cars and I had parts all over in my bedroom. I started buying, selling, exchanging and collecting cars. In my life I’ve owned about 90 cars, with a maximum of 15 at the same time. I used to believe that each one of them had a different spirit.
What’s the scope of automobile design in India?
Mobility allows a better life quality. Mostly saves you time, so you can have a more intense life. In developed countries people spends a lot of time inside their automobiles, which has become a sort of prosthesis of our ego. For this reason cars have a representative function which has to be coherent with the culture of the owner. The scope of automobile design is to conceive complex products to supply population with tools and services that people expects. The most interesting challenge it would be to understand exactly what an automobile means to Indian population and its culture and to do our best to design it.
Tell us a bit about your role as visiting faculty at DYPDC
I am offering my experience as a teacher and car designer to the development of DYPDC
What are your thoughts about DYPDC? About what it is trying to achieve?
I believe that DYPDC has set very ambitious goals for its institution. We are talking of the vision of a school that becomes a reference in car design in India and, why not, that spreads its reputation all over the world. This is a fascinating dream and I would be pleased to be part of it. I am putting my competence, my knowledge and my enthusiasm as contribution to this program.
What advice would you give to upcoming designers?
To be a designer is a very special job. It needs a lot of knowledge and a lot of competences. To become a designer takes time and patience, but when you got there, in my opinion, it is one of the most rewarding professions (not necessarily from an economical point of view). So, if you have that special spark inside, it’s worth working hard for it.