Frank Stephenson – Legendary Automobile Designer
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Kara Goldin 00:00
Hi everyone, it’s Kara Goldin And this is the Kara Goldin Show. And I am so excited to have my next guest here. I’ve been trying to get him on my show for a very long time since I met him at a conference in Texas that we were both invited to speak at NASA. And very funny story. Hopefully, we’ll get into it at some point. But this is Frank Stephenson’s icon. And I was fanning over him from the first time that I met him. And I was probably not his typical audience of people. Because I’m not a designer. I’m not. I mean, I drive cars. But I don’t really understand cars nearly as much as Frank typically probably deals with but just so inspiring on a lot of levels, because I have seen what he’s done in terms of changing and disrupting the automotive industry. And what I always love is people who come in who into their industry and actually create a change that no one really saw coming. We didn’t know we needed it. And then when it got there, we were like up, of course, we needed it. And that really is what Frank has done. So Frank. So for a little bit more background on Frank. So Frank is obviously an automobile designer, the automobile, I think the automobile designer out there, and you may recognize a few of the brands that he’s been instrumental and work with, but also models, including the BMW SUV, the mini, been involved with Ferrari and Maserati, FIA lancea, Alfa Romero. And last but not least, the McLaren, and just unbelievable what you’ve accomplished. Motor Trend magazine has called him one of the most influential automobile designers of our time. And he also was doing some other interesting stuff outside of designing, and we’ll get into that a little bit. But anyway, welcome, welcome. Welcome. So excited to be here. He’s just outside of London, and where he lives, so very excited to have you here.
Frank Stephenson 02:24
Thank you, Kara. I can just feel the energy in your voice is lifting me up already? Yeah. Not that designers need lifting up. We’re usually positive people. Oh, that’s
Kara Goldin 02:35
so nice. So yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about Frank. So where did you grow up?
Frank Stephenson 02:44
Oh, that one, it can belong. So I’ll try to keep it short, Carrie, because it does tend to be a long one. But I was actually born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. And my father is an American and my mother’s Spanish. So I, I really can’t tell you if I feel American, or if I feel Spanish, I kind of feel both. I guess it just depends on the situation where I find myself in if I’m more Latin or more, more American, but at the same time, it’s a great way, to go through your youth because I lived there until I was 11 I was exposed to a lot of different cultures. And in the 60s when I grew up in Casablanca was mainly French, although obviously Arabic and that but the main language is not Arabic and Casablanca, it’s actually French. And so I grew up exposed to a variety of cultures, my parents being sort of polar opposites in temperatures, my father was cold and calculated. My mother was hot and passionate. And I had an older brother who’s completely different from myself. But yeah, I grew up there in the 60s and early 70s, and then went to an international school and learn a couple of other languages. So I was pretty. Okay, I guess with languages until, till when I was 11, we then move to Istanbul, Turkey. And so transferred schools and you lose all your friends and things and start all over again. And studied in Istanbul until I was 16. And then we moved from there to Madrid, Spain, where I graduated my senior year from high school in Madrid, and did pretty well and I was supposed to go to college, but in the early 60s, my father actually started the car dealership in the south of Spain, and that was being run by my uncle, my mother’s brother. It was kind of expected that when I finished high school, I would go down there and work in the dealership is whatever. And I actually got interested in racing motorcycles. In my last year of high school in Madrid, I met a guy who was racing and went to a few races and I got the virus there and so I I asked my father if I could have a year off before I started. I work and he said, Sure, you know, get it out of your system. So, so I got a bike, a motorcycle and started practicing and racing did pretty well. The first year I was raised I was the National Junior champion. And, of course, he said, keep going, so I won the next year and the senior championship. And then after that, it became a career because I got what we call a factory ride from a Japanese manufacturer. And so I was able to do sort of being an international writer writing all over the world in the world championships for four years, did pretty good. But after four years, I hadn’t won, which was my father’s viewpoint was if you don’t win, you know, there’s no sense in being in the game. So nobody really remembers the second place. So I got out and had to make a decision either go to work with him or go off and study. So I decided to go to study car design in California, and I moved there in 82. And graduated 86 By the way, well, that’s the design college they call it the place that you go to, if you can get in you’re, you’re doing pretty good. If you get out, you’re absolutely a miracle if you get out of this school life. Basically, the people who finish are almost guaranteed a job. So that’s in Pasadena, California, so just outside of LA, and it’s called the Art Center College of Design. And it’s really small, but it’s the powerhouse University for design in the world, I’d say. And basically, they almost try to make you not graduate. But that is the level that they put you through to almost guarantee that when you’re finished, when you graduate, you’re ready to hit the road running. So, you go through a really rigorous training program.
Kara Goldin 06:50
Now did you had you been drawing a lot prior to that? Or were you Well, actually,
Frank Stephenson 06:55
no, I yeah, I had to because not had to is my since I can’t remember what I mean, I walk around with this since I can’t remember. If I’m not riding a motorcycle, I’m, I’ve got a pen in my hand. So I’m one of those strange guys that can write better than talk. So or draw better than talk. So I grew up as a kid not wanting to go outside and play I stayed basically at home and drew all day, my mother had to kick me out of the house to get fresh air and, you know, force me to go out and get in the sandbox or something. So I, I was drawing everything when I was a kid. And then eventually, because of the dealership that my father had, when I was about 10, I started to draw the cars and the dealership just for fun. And so that kind of love for cars and love for drawing, basically melted or molded itself together. And so I was learning in a profession that I didn’t even know existed when I was, you know, 17 1819 years old, I had no idea that cars were actually designed, I thought they, you know, somebody pulled the lever, and out popped a car kind of thing. You know, I didn’t know that people actually drew cars for a living. But when I was 22, and I had that make that life decision of what I was going to be doing, either staying in motocross racing or working for my father’s dealership or, or do some kind of studies. I coincidentally, it was serendipity. But I learned about this university in California that they actually taught car design. And I thought, well, you know, what could not do with your life, if you they pay you to draw a car, you can’t, you know, can’t be much more of a dream profession than that. So I did that.
Kara Goldin 08:31
It’s so interesting. I always talk about how in your journey, these dots they like later on in life, you can look back and how they connect, but you didn’t know. Right? Like your dad was in front of you. Right? Yeah. Right, your dad jumps into a dealership, and you’re like, Okay, you know, I’ll go there. And then I just start drawing other things. I mean, that’s
Frank Stephenson 08:54
a little Do you know that it’s, it is a dream profession for a lot of, and now more so than ever, because I think, you know, when I was back then we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t, you know, there was no way of really knowing what a professional designer actually did. And especially because the design is one of those professions that you don’t get into that side of the company. Because it’s very secret, they don’t really tell you what’s going on in the design studio design studios don’t typically work, you know, one or two years into the future. They’re working five to 10 years into the future. So what’s going on within the design community or in a design company is not really talked about? It’s a fascinating place because actually every day you walk in the studio, it’s like walking five years into the future. Everything else seems boring when you walk out of it, you know, you’ve seen it before, might be new to normal people on the road, but for you that’s like, that’s five years old already. And you know what’s coming so it’s, it’s a really you’re living, living, dreaming, you know, everything thinking it, your whole life switches to a mode where you’re almost like a future person in the sense that you know these new materials that are going to be coming out that people have no idea about or new technologies that don’t exist today but are coming, working directly with a supplier. So you kind of looked at as a strange one that, you know, and we have to be the strange ones in the company because that’s what they pay us for us. Now, these brand-new ideas really don’t make sense today. But and when you were saying you didn’t know that you needed it, but when you saw it, you wanted it, that’s, that’s what we do is we have to come up with these ways of innovating, that not only are different but are better because it’s very easy to draw a pretty picture. But to make it actually better than what’s out there technology and practices, and all that, then there’s got to be a combination of not just the art side that makes you want to buy it, but it’s also the science side. So that’s what’s cool about design, it’s that mixture of art and science together. You know, art is an artist, but a designer kind of has to mix the engineering and the art together. That’s, that’s fascinating, especially when you’re that far, you know, if you’re doing fashion, you’re probably working for next year’s collection or, or something or architecture might be two years out, but when you’re actually designing the car, that car is gonna be coming out probably at five years, but it still has to look fresh for another three years. So if you total that, that’s eight years, and you’re signing ahead of yourself. And you don’t even know, you know, you’re not really asking people what they will want in eight years, nobody really knows what they want eight years, so you kind of have to predict the trends or dictate the trends almost, there’s a really good saying that I had once that was the future is not faded, it’s created, you know, it says, Don’t sit back and let the future happen. It’s going to be what you want it to be. So I love the fun part.
Kara Goldin 11:50
Well, another one of my icons that I followed for many, many years is Steve Jobs. And he always talked about a very similar I mean, people would ask him Do you do focus groups, and he didn’t believe in focus groups, he believed in actually sharing, and basically telling the consumer ultimately figuring out what the problems are out there. And then solving for it and saying, here it is, and I very much, we very much think the same way at hints when you know, people will say do you have lots of focus groups. And so now I’ll share with my millennial, Gen Gen Z kids, and they’ll tell me it sucks or, you know, right, they’ll be very too brutally honest with different stuff. But in general, we are not focused. So you don’t use focus groups along the way.
Frank Stephenson 12:45
I absolutely despise focus groups, because what happens is you tend to get watered down, watered down, no pun intended, but very diluted things because, you know, in the future will shock a lot of people, the objective is not to shock people, but to make them accepted on an emotional level. And, and obviously, we move forward all the time, you know, designers don’t want to repeat, there are all kinds of things about retro design and how sometimes that’s appealing. But the true definition of design is that you’re creating something that connects that product emotionally to the buyer that makes the buyer want to have it, you know, even if they don’t need it, they still want to have it because there’s this emotional connection that you build through the aesthetics and the aesthetics and the product. Yet at the same time, there’s no sense in adding to the world products that the world doesn’t really need because it’s already out there. So the objective has to be that every time you design something, you’re adding something beneficial, or you’re bringing something innovative or better to the market than what’s already out there. Because just to be like I said, racing second-best means nothing, you know, it’s just, it’s a waste of energy and things you want always when you do something to release the very best product out there. And a lot of people say, you know, that’s well, that’s expensive, we don’t have a budget for to be the best. Well, you know, I’m sorry, but the best doesn’t have to be expensive. There’s a lot of ways to get around that also, you know, people think that the best means higher prices, but there’s, there’s that’s not true. But again, yeah, it’s just, you know, not really asking everybody what they want, because what it does often take is an experience so I’ve always relied a lot on gut instinct. So what my experience, gut instinct is, is good when you have experience at the beginning, you can’t really rely on it. Yeah. And you know, unless you get you to know, you want to be proven right most of the time, but once you get that sort of belief in yourself and confidence that your gut instinct can tend to be correct. Lenders really know no sense and asking everybody what they want, because, you know, you can’t please everybody all the time. Think about politics, you can fool some of the people all the time, and you can fool all the people selling time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time, that kind of centrism design, as long as you’re batting over 50%, you know, or over 500, you’re doing pretty well, I love it.
Kara Goldin 15:15
I love it. So, so first real kind of job and design, Where was that?
Frank Stephenson 15:22
Like, halfway through Art Center College of Design, I got a while for the big three come to the University, typically halfway through your studies there. And it’s kind of like, you know, like when you have the draft in professional sports, where they kind of look at the players a little bit before they graduate from college, and then they know who they’re gonna try to sign up on graduation? Well, the big three, which are Chrysler, Ford, and GM, would come to the University, check out the students, and sort of keeping their eye on them. So halfway through my studies, Ford offered me a position on graduation, if I signed with them, and said, we’ll pay for the rest of your studies if you signed with us now. So I did that. So it was a big load off my mind. So I went. So when I graduated, I already had, I was already with Ford, or signed up to go to Ford. I just didn’t want to go to Detroit. You know, because I’ve experienced Detroit a couple of times. And I, I thought that’s probably one of the most violent cities that designers can live in. You want to feel good
Kara Goldin 16:27
the time it’s gotten better. But it’s, but yeah,
Frank Stephenson 16:29
this was the down period. This is when Detroit wasn’t in a good place. Much better. Of course. Yeah. So they sent me to their European design headquarters in Cologne, West Germany, in German, and they have their European design quarters there. And it was fascinating. I mean, I moved right in straight from university to there. And a really, really international design team. Most of us who had actually graduated didn’t come from the same university. So we had a similar way of seeing the design. And that was the start of the arrow, Jelly Bean, period, I guess you could call it the mid-80s, early 90s when Ford started doing these very, the first movement in Aero design of cars that look like they were very aerodynamic. And that started with Ford Ford design in that period. So I got to be involved in that stage. But the French car I have actually ever designed was crazy. I mean, I was handed the project because it was sort of like a project on the side. But it turned out to be very successful. And it was a car that Ford did for Europe. It was called the Ford Escort but just it’s the normal two-door hatchback car that you wouldn’t really look at twice. My
Kara Goldin 17:43
the roommate had an escort and yeah, okay. Yeah. Yeah. And we, yeah, that little escort. It was like the little engine made it over there.
Frank Stephenson 17:54
Yeah. They thought, well, let’s do a sheep and Wolf, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And let’s make this cargo racing in the World Rally Championship. So we need to add some stuff to make it look back at not just love but behave properly as a race car. So I got that project that I was so inspired. And so disaster, because I just come out of university and already always come on to the real project, I would have been happy doing hubcaps or door handles. But
Kara Goldin 18:20
Frank Stephenson 18:21
an amazing project that I got inspired and started thinking, Well, you know, we don’t just start drawing, we have to do some research and get inspired. And I thought, well, I was sitting here in Germany, and I need to do this car that’s like a race car, turn it into a race car. What’s the coolest thing that’s ever come out of Germany? That’s iconic. And I was thinking of that? Well, from a performance point of view, it was probably the Red Baron his airplane from World War One at the three wings on it to Fokker Dr. One, so. So I did three wings on the back of this car, it looked absolutely fabulous. And it performs so well in the wind tunnel because with a car you want, that’s why cars have wings on the back so they can keep the back end down and traction and, you know, stay on the road kind of thing glued to the road. So these three wings had never been done before in car design. And it was pretty awesome. And it was very German-inspired, you know, so it suited Germany very well. The problem is for bean counters, as we call them, the finance guys have a lot of power in the organization. And we came to the very end of the project, in the cost down meeting where every department tries to take costs out of the, of the vehicle of the car. The finance guy said, Well, what if we take out the middle wing? You know, how much are we going to save it was that five points work. Yeah. And so they took it out because it made financial sense for him. But it was like your kid getting born with nine fingers and 10 instead of 10 it really hurt me, but nobody knew about it. You know, it didn’t know that car was supposed to have three wings and it suffered from it but It came out as a great story. And it was there was a program in the states that said, well, let’s put the three wings on as you intended it. And they did it and it went viral.
Kara Goldin 20:11
That’s so awesome. And so the next one
Frank Stephenson 20:13
was, well, the next one, I moved down to Munich. So, after I finished that project, I thought, well, that’s great. You know, for it’s a great company learn with it’s a bread and butter company. And they do a lot of different products. But I want to be a little bit more specialized and go up up a little bit. So I immediately applied down in the south of Germany to Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, and BMW. And I got interviews with them all. The problem was BMW told me, they’re not hiring. But we’ll look at your portfolio anyways, keep you on record. And when I went down to Munich, where the BMW was at, I was just blown away, because it’s the best location in Germany. Probably live, you’re right up against the Alps, Austria, Switzerland, the lakes, everything. And lucky enough, I was like, really where I want to work, but they said during the interview, okay, yeah, this is pretty good. You’re welcome to start if you want. So I went straight to BMW and worked there for the next 11 years. And it was still when BMW was really small. They just had a three series car five series card, a seven series car, which people used to be funny and say, well, that’s the same car. It’s like one sausage, button, three different sizes, right. So they all look the same. But it was a great company and still growing. So I was really excited. And I moved down to BMW. And lo and behold, I got a hold of another project that was super exciting, which was going to be their first SUV. And BMW is history. And they asked me to design that car. And so I went down to Italy, where we have some design companies that can build your design very quickly. Because of this car I had to turn around and six weeks,
Kara Goldin 21:53
Frank Stephenson 21:54
Yeah, it’s nuts. Cars take years build at least a year to build a concept car. And the boss wanted it in six weeks, they just bought land rover, which is part of the story. And the big boss of BMW said, Okay, let’s know that we own land rover, let’s take a Land Rover platform and see what a BMW body could look like on this car. And he asked for that to be seen in six weeks. And my design boss, then Chris Bengel, thought it was a sketch program. Yeah, we’ll put up you know, six weeks, we’ll get some nice sketches to look at. He said, No, I want to see it in six weeks, the actual full-size model. And the only way to do that is to go down to Italy, because you can’t work on the weekends and Munich, because of the union. So we went I went down there and drew the plane on the flight down, or drew the x five on the plane on the flight down, landed on a Sunday with work on a Monday, and worked with three amazing Italian older guys. Amazing. It was like working with Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo. And we turn this project around from a sketch to a full-size car that was the first BMW X five, and brought it back to BMW and went straight to production. So that was quite amazing. And then I did the next project, which was probably the project of the millennium, or the last century at least, which was the opportunity to be to see who would come up with a design for the new mini of the 21st century. And the mini was under BMW’s ownership. So it’s British car, but or English car, but they bought brand, many they bought land rover and that so they knew that the old mini from 1959 had to be renovated, or would just die out and so that everybody in the world wanted to be the designer to work on the new successor to the Mini. And luckily I got went straight into that and worked on it for five years and the new mini came out in 2000. It’s been doing very well ever since then,
Kara Goldin 23:55
which was so awesome on so many levels. I
Frank Stephenson 23:58
don’t know that when you
Kara Goldin 24:00
know, but I mean, it just caught everybody by surprise. It was just such a great car and to drive right?
Frank Stephenson 24:07
I wouldn’t I learned in the States. It’s a hoot. My cousin who lives in the states taught me a new word. I didn’t know what hoop meant. She said I mean, it’s a hoot to drive.
Kara Goldin 24:16
So when did the McLaren come in
Frank Stephenson 24:19
the McLaren came at the right time. All these moves just seem to line up in my career. It’s unbelievable. But I went from doing the mini to off the back of the mini getting a call from Ferrari and Maserati on saying okay, you’re the guy that did that. Well,
Kara Goldin 24:35
you imagine getting a car getting a call. It’s so crazy. No,
Frank Stephenson 24:42
I mean, it was the weirdest thing. I was asked down to Turin for an interview. I had no idea who the company was. The company that interviewed me in Turin was actually Fiat who owns Ferrari. And they were looking for the first guy who can lead Ferraris design in their history because they’d never had an in-house design team in Ferrari. So anyway, we have lunch, and then we got to the desert. And then they asked me about, you know, they think they said, We think you’re the right guy for it. But would you want to be the first, the director of design for Ferrari and Maserati, and I think my two, tiramisu went out horizontally because I couldn’t believe, you know, they’re asking me to be here getting to do
Frank Stephenson 25:26
I was I only ever designed a couple of cars. And you know, they, they were pretty much hit, but at the same time, that’s kind of a big jump, or that’s the jump, you know, and so I couldn’t say no, you know, if the pope asked you to go to Rome, you don’t say, No, you go so. So I went to Ferrari and Maserati and worked there for the next six, seven years, I guess. And then went through Fiat where I had to do the Fiat 500. That went really well. And then right after that, McLaren called me up in 2008. And they just told me, you know, we know, you know, we’re a racing car company, but we need a designer. And I’m like, well, but I don’t design race cars. Yeah, but we want to design a, we want to start a road car company because the Formula One for our racing department ever goes down south, we have nothing. So we need to build a road car company, we want you to do that and take over and do everything. So I couldn’t, I couldn’t say no to that. Because that was basically clean-sheet design for a company of that kind of caliber is unheard of, you know, you get a chance with a lot of different companies, but a company like McLaren, which their target was to be the English Ferrari. And to start from a clean sheet of paper, create the design language for a company like that. And have the backing of that kind of you know that that firepower that McLaren has,
Kara Goldin 26:47
Frank Stephenson 26:49
Yeah, I couldn’t say no to that a lot of pressure. But same time, he’s turned out really well. So I’ve been happy.
Kara Goldin 26:54
So I remember us sitting there chatting, and at that conference, and it and you said something to me about that each of these cars. If you are inspired by animals, am I remembering this correctly? correctly? Oh, 110%. So what So tell me about what each of these cars which animal?
Frank Stephenson 27:15
Yeah, well, okay, so the reason why is first of all, when you say animals, I call it biomimicry, which is a science. biomimicry is looking at, you know, your, some designers have to get inspired by any number of things, we get inspired by architecture, furniture, fashion, whatever. But I’ve never really relied on that because that’s in one day and not the next in terms of trends and things. And I always thought car design has to be timeless or at least try to carve their products, you want to be out there for a year, and then you want the customer to buy the new, new, upgraded and better version next year. But with cars, it’s a pretty big investment. I kind of feel like a car should last a long time, design-wise, and look good. So what better influence nature as your design, because nature is not trendy. It’s not like you know, this year, that’s it. And next year, it’s out because it looks old. It doesn’t happen in nature. So the more you can rely on nature as your design inspiration. For one, it’s an intelligent inspiration, nothing in nature is overdesigned, it’s not under-designed. If it’s not a good design. It doesn’t it doesn’t live, it just dies off. It’s that survival of the fittest so so you’re basically looking at them as the best inspiration for anything to be designed. If you look into nature, how natural approaches that specific problem or challenge that you’re looking at. And with McLaren, I thought, Okay, well, why don’t we develop our own new design language, we can do something that nobody else has done. You know, Ferraris have that very sexual sensual appeal. Japanese are very science fiction, like German cars, very serious French cars are quirky. Every country sort of has its own look. And I thought well, McLaren is a racing car company. And there’s no fat on our cars. You know, all of them have on the race cars, they have a very low BMI if you want to put it that way. And they’re just designed for the purpose. So why don’t we just take that philosophy and look at animals in nature that are built for speed? And if you look at what’s fast in nature, of course, the shape is important aerodynamics. But it doesn’t lead you to just one form because, for example, in the air, birds, you know, have to be aerodynamic and do the same thing. But they don’t all look the same. They approach it from different angles, as well as fish in the sea. Fish do the same thing. They have to go pretty fast when they’re hunting or looking for food. But they all have different shapes. So they all approach the same challenge, same target, same goal, but with different shapes and different solutions. So it’s not like you’re gonna get locked into a design language that only has one solution. There’s a lot of variety within nature. But the main thing that I absorbed or have absorbed from biomimicry is that When the animal is a fast animal and efficient animal, it’s basically a shrink-wrapped animal. You know, you see, you see the muscles, you see the tendons, the bone, sometimes it’s basically no excess fat on that animal. So that became the design philosophy of McLaren, where you start with what’s called an engineering package. And this is where the driver sits, that’s his vision angle, this is where the engine is going to be, the suspension is going to be mounted here. Basically, those are what we call hardpoints that you can’t move, the engineers giving you those points, the wheels are going to be here, the luggage goes here, the fuel takes, it’s here, those don’t move. Now, what you have to have as freedom as a designer, is to design the body around that rib cage, or rather than skeleton organs and stuff that are already given to you. And that’s why we all look the same, you know, we don’t all have your skeletal structure similar. So what I did was basically it sounds weird, but almost the principle of taking a bedsheet throwing it over these hardpoints, and letting it settle. And by that, you’re just reducing the amount of material you need on the car. So that reduces weight, cost everything, aerodynamic drag. So our cars ended up looking shrink-wrapped, right. And that was its own design language that nobody else had ever used before. So we immediately had our own look. And of course, you have to come in with a designer’s eye later and sort of finesse the curves and the radiuses. And, and things like that. And we surface blend together. But that’s just like cleaning up the design a little bit. And they got a very distinctive look. And not only a distinctive look, but a very efficient look. And yeah, so that’s worked very well. And that’s become the sort of the way McLaren’s are recognized.
Kara Goldin 31:49
So cool. After I met you, and you told me that story, I happened to be in Palm Springs and at a hotel. And for some reason, I don’t know if it was a McLaren convention or what was going on. But there were five different models parked out front, and I just kept thinking about you. I was wanting to know the whole backstory on all of them. It was amazing. Yeah. So I want to make sure that we have time for that I could talk to you all day, there are two really big ones. So predictions for cars moving forward. You and I talked a little bit about this, like, and aspiring, I want to be frank Stephenson. Yeah, people, what would you say? What do you what are you gonna do?
Frank Stephenson 32:27
Well, it’s gonna be interesting, because right now the trend seems to be heading towards the interior design of vehicles. Because it’s like the new generation of children, our not so much into owning stuff, but rather more the experiences they get. So, you know, nobody really almost looks forward to getting their driver’s license when they’re 16, or 18. Or whatever age it is, it’s almost like, I’ll take an Uber if I have to get from here to there, I don’t want to have the expenses of maintaining a vehicle or getting tickets or servicing it, or resale or accidents, I don’t know, there are so many things that you have to consider. When you buy a car, that it’s almost like it’s a night and one night like a mirror, just a generation change way of thinking, they would rather just have the experience and actually have to take care of owning that product. So there is a shift right now towards cars almost being looked at as products instead of you know, unique pieces that you own, you can basically use a car when you’re finished with it, somebody else can use it. The only thing that’s really a weird one is this. This shift that we’re having forced upon us all of a sudden with the COVID thing, the pandemic, in Mass Transportation is going to become a little bit different than what we’re used to. And you know, I’ve still been working over this period. But there’s a lot of emphasis from companies asking for new solutions to the packaging on the interior vehicles on mass transport vehicles such that you feel safer. And already the people are really rethinking interiors, on airplanes, interiors, on trains, on subway systems. So this whole thing is going to turn the interior of the vehicle, as well as with the electric motors that are coming along with your life smaller, into how we can really expand the space on the inside to give us more a feeling of more space, how we can physically and scientifically decontaminate a car when people get out and more people are going to be coming in
Kara Goldin 34:27
have the filters are we going to see those in cars?
Frank Stephenson 34:29
Yes, we will have we’re gonna see that we’re gonna see heat going up very quickly inside the interior up to about 135 degrees, which then influences the kind of adhesives that we use in cars, the materials that don’t start to get too hot and things it’s a lot of new stuff coming into the game. So I wouldn’t say that design per se is going to change because we will always like or want beauty in our lives. You know if you have a choice between driving a car that looks like a refrigerator as opposed to a car that looks like a beautiful piece of sculpture. I know there are people that would love to drive a refrigerator, but I’m not one of them. I don’t think it’s old school. I just think I like good-looking things are aesthetically pleasing things but, but there is this trend that that beauty is going to be seen in the future is less important, I guess than it is. Now. If you look at cars on the road today, there’s trying so hard to get these cards, they’re unique characters. Going down that route where cars are becoming more intense, the design is more of a shock value than it is a good value almost, you know, kind of preparing us for a world that’s almost dystopian a certain way. It’s like planning for the future with cars that are just meant to be sort of out of Mad Max and violent and aggressive. And I don’t like that I still think cars should look desirable, attractive, proportionally correct. Incredibly beautiful surfacing, that stuff doesn’t go out of style. So
Kara Goldin 36:00
well, you keep doing what you’re doing. Because I think that that just like, just like customers might not know exactly what they want. I have a feeling during times like this when people are creating things that maybe they’re reacting, right and they think that that’s a solution. But I think somebody’s like you really I don’t know. I think you see the future and I think sticking to what your stakes in the ground are around design seems. Yeah, the right way to go.
Frank Stephenson 36:33
Like I said at the beginning, Carrie, we can’t stay in the pastor as the way things are we I am currently working on two different projects that would probably blow most people’s minds at the moment in the sense that they would think that they won’t be seeing it in their generation in their lifetime. But in the space of the next four years, we will start seeing flying taxis. In other words, vertical takeoff and landing jets are kind of like the Uber of the sky costs less than road cars or road taxis because there’s no infrastructure. So those are going to be transporting us from airports to city centers or from cities to rural areas. So those are the new little flying pods, electrical flying pods that are
Kara Goldin 37:17
I cannot wait to see it. I could talk to you all day. Frank. I went where is the best place for people to find you obviously if you haven’t seen Frank’s movie that he was a part of chasing. Perfect, amazing. I went and sought after you mentioned it to me. It’s really really good. And you’ve got a YouTube channel as well. And it’s just under Frank Stevenson, correct?
Frank Stephenson 37:45
Correct. Yeah, we hit exits. It’s a big coincidence. But today we hit 100 K, subscribe 100,000. And we just started but it’s going really well. There Karen. That’s Frank steps in how I designed I love it. There’s a whole list of stuff on there. that’s out there, then we have just the film is a good one to watch chasing perfect. The website, Frank steffensen.com. But the big thing is to keep your eyes peeled very soon, actually, in October of next year. So just under a year from now, two cars that I’m working on, will be attached to SpaceX in October next year, and they’re flying up to the moon and they’re going to be the first two cars to race under the surface
Kara Goldin 38:26
that is awesome.
Frank Stephenson 38:28
Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome project is super, super cool technology, new materials, everything. It’s, it doesn’t get any crazier than that. That is awesome.
Kara Goldin 38:37
Well, thank you so much, Frank. And please, everybody. If you liked this episode, which I of course did five stars subscribe. And Frank, we’re gonna have to have you back and talk more about all of your other projects that you’re doing because you’re just hiring. So thank you. Thanks, everybody. Have a great afternoon and the rest of the week.
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