Shapes & Spirits: The Idea Behind Kia’s Design Philosophy
Every automaker follows common patterns and attributes when designing its vehicles so that each entry in its lineup possesses a shared, unifying theme. While some characteristics are more overt, like a uniform grille shape, others are more conceptual.
Take, for instance, the Kia brand. While some automakers are set in their ways, sticking to the same curves and shapes year after year, Kia isn’t afraid to change up the appearance of its vehicles. This is because what unifies Kia’s lineup isn’t a common visual aesthetic but a shared spirit.
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How the Kia Brand Stays on Its Toes
Kia’s current design philosophy began when Peter Schreyer, who formerly led Audi‘s reinvention, took the helm of the Kia group’s design department to reinvigorate the brand.
Instead of relegating new vehicles to an arbitrarily-instigated “design language” of abstract mumbo-jumbo, he helped the brand find the spirit of each model and develop traits that accentuated that visually. His philosophy is echoed on Kia’s website:
Design is not just about shapes, lines or decoration. It is about instilling soul into a brand and making customers passionate about a product. The ultimate goal of Kia’s styling activities is to create complete, pure and unprecedented designs that define the Kia brand. To this end, Kia will seek deeper interaction with more people around the world to gain a more extensive understanding of different markets and technologies as we strive to make the Kia brand more exciting and fun.
That principle is far more customer-centric than most brands’ design philosophies. Schreyer reiterated this following the reveal of the current-generation Kia Sportage, stating in an interview, “I think the good thing really is [that] Hyundai and Kia, they are dynamic, flexible companies. And the Koreans are very quick and demanding, so this gives us a chance to make the changes.”
On multiple occasions, Chief of Design Schreyer has spoken about the “soul” of the company’s products “speaking to people.”
Ultimately, the Kia brand’s vehicle designs will remain flexible to meet ever-changing customer expectations, an approach that has worked well for Kia in the past decade and that many rival automakers don’t have the bravery to do.
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