Hyundai’s latest senior designer, Luc Donckerwolke, has stepped up this week in Geneva to make his mark with the Korean brand’s future looks.
Donckerwolke was poached from the Volkswagen group in 2016, where he led the styling operations for Bentley, Lamborghini and Audi. His mandate at Hyundai was initially to lead design for the Genesis division, reporting to group styling boss Peter Schreyer.
It seems his role has grown. This week, as the Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai Design Center, the 53-year-old Belgian is revealed as the mind behind Hyundai’s new ‘Le Fil Rouge’ (“common thread”) styling direction, embodied by the HDC-1 concept revealed at the Geneva motor show.
“‘Le Fil Rouge’ is a reinterpretation of Hyundai’s design DNA that originated from the brand’s historical Hyundai Coupe Concept in 1974,” Donckerwolke says.
“Building on our long history of creating distinctive and sporty character in vehicles, we will open a new era for Hyundai design.”
Interestingly, the above quote omits the word ‘Pony’ from that Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed concept’s name, based as it was – if only at the floor level – on the Hyundai Pony family that rolled out not long after the show car’s Turin debut. If only they’d headlined the range with that Italdesign beauty…
Shown as a large swooping coupe-like sedan with clear European influences, the HDC-1 is proposed as a “new era for Hyundai design”.
It is unlikely, of course, that any future Hyundai-badged model will appear quite so premium in its final form, lest it mash the toes of the giant-slaying Korean company’s new Genesis brand.
Along with the official title Le Fil Rouge, Donckerwolke says Hyundai’s new styling theme is “an introduction” to what it calls – note the capital letters – ‘Sensuous Sportiness’. Expect to hear these terms in future press releases as Hyundai rolls out more next-generation models.
Joining Sensuous Sportiness under the Le Fil Rouge heading is another new term: ‘Light Architecture’, intended not to describe the concept’s materials and construction but rather the “dynamic look and forward motion effect” of its big coupe lines.
Building on that, Hyundai describes a ‘Tube Architecture’ in the cabin, a design principle that intends “to create the same emotional value inside and outside the vehicle”.
All of this, the company says, should come together to reveal a car “that is instantly recognisable as a Hyundai from a distance or among a herd”. One imagines this must be a long-term goal rather than the hope of an instant recognising of Hyundai themes from punters viewing the HDC-1 in the here-and-now.
The design and sketches make clear that the HDC-1 is an electric vehicle, although Hyundai has spilled no beans on the specifics or whether it hints at a future all-electric large sedan.
The company has also offered no word on when and how we should expect to see elements of Le Fil Rouge appear on future production models, but the next Sonata or another Europe-focused model like the i40 could be first in line.
Click through to the photo gallery for more images of the HDC-1 concept