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Chevrolet Centennial Update: A Peak into Chevy's Future with GM's Design Director Ed Welburn +VIDEO

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Ed Welburn

By Marty Bernstein
Sr. Editor at Large

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It’s not very often that anyone other than General Motors top cadre of executives get to visit the company’s iconic design center’s sanctum sanctorum in Warren, Michigan. But as part of the brand’s 100th anniversary, Edward T. (please call me Ed) Welburn, GM’s vice president of global design, lifted the CIA-type super security for a peak at what’s coming in Chevrolet’s worldwide designs soon, very soon during a media preview event.

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The event began in The Dome, a huge presentation space with a circular shape - think theater in the round.

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Every new GM vehicle developed since 1955 has been presented here for approval by top GM executives. And it is here that Welburn the self described “keeper of the GM brands visual identities” presented what he called the face, the new family look of Chevrolet, flanked with shiny new Chevys.
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Recalling the brand’s halcyon period (50’s and 60's) of the BelAire, Camaro, Corvette and concept cars, these vehicles, he said, “Are the iconic designs that are the foundation of Chevy’s DNA which has resulted in contemporary vehicles such as the new Camaro and the new worldwide design cues of Chevrolet.

Ed Welburn talks about the new Camaro ZL1

Creating, developing and implementing new designs in today’s high tech era of computers must still be rendered in simple black and white shapes before they become critical DNA design shapes.

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These are the exterior identification design elements.

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And these are the interior identification design elements that create the Chevrolet space ambiance.

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Exterior design cues shown here are the key visual elements and identity - the face in Welburn-speak - in sculpted shapes that define Chevrolet designs in every vehicle everywhere in the world.

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While this cues establish the interior design elements, textures, colors and trims of the interiors of all new Chevy’s anywhere in the world.

Design progress is shown in the interior of a 1955 Chevy and a 2012 with these pictures, both in color. The transformation from bland and boring to expressive and expansive is amazing.

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Interior Design Today Begins with Demographics & Lifestyles

The interiors of Chevys being designed today for tomorrow’s new vehicles are, using consumer research, focused on the lifestyles and demographics of those most likely to purchase the specific model.

In his introduction to the tour of GM’s interior design center, a wonderful example of 1950’s design in and out, Welburn noted, “Elements of color palates, textures, materials both natural and man-made, visual display, ergonomics, technological interface, infotainment, visual impact, safety and personal comfort are used by GM’s interior design specialists to create the five unique interiors for future Chevy vehicles based on specific demographics and lifestyles.

This unique Chevy interior specialization centers on:

1. Youth - the millennial generation who are whizzes with techie things Insert pic bright colors, tactical surfaces with unique materials

2. Modern Family - the emerging family with special needs Insert pic from adventuresome to emerging family with practical everyday needs. Less glitzy but with high tech attitude and use applications.

3. Eco - any demographic who is active in ecological issues Insert pic wants natural and recycled materials that harmonize with light colors.

4. Performance - the need for speed group Insert pic is based on design elements that say speed, performance, quality and technological innovation.

5. Trucks - for work and play Insert pic require durable, comfortable surfaces and information that’s easy to read, understand and use.

From GM’s design studios around the world - US, Germany, Korea, China and Brazil these design formats and cues are being followed as all-new-generations of Chevys are designed and built to meet the needs of its customers. New cars and trucks including the Sonic, Malibu, Spark, Orlando, Colorado and Camaro ZL0 are examples of new Chevys.

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