Discovering what people want from their transportation and how design can meet these needs is the mission of Toyota’s Calty Design Research facility. The head of Calty’s entire operations is its first American president Kevin Hunter (’82), an alumnus of the Industrial Design Department.
“I have always enjoyed working in what I considered to be a fun hobby,” said Hunter. “My design education at CCS provided me with the right tools to move into a design position at a major car company, allowing me to contribute design solutions from the first day I began at Calty.”
As president, Hunter is responsible for Calty’s US design studios in Newport Beach, California, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. He guides the design direction for all of the projects including research, concept, advanced and North American production design. The company provides innovative design solutions for Toyota, Lexus and Scion product development, and supports U.S. production design, including color and trim. They contributed exterior styling for production models such as the '05 Avalon, '07 FJ Cruiser, '07 Tundra, '08 Highlander, '08 Scion xB, and ’09 Venza and created the concept vehicles Lexus LF-C, FT-SX, Scion t2B, Scion Fuse, FT-HS and A-BAT.
“I am able to work closely with a number of very talented designers in crafting our vision for the future,” Hunter said. “In this role, I am especially fond of the Toyota FT-HS Hybrid Sports Car Concept introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. The FT-HS is a very fresh approach to the future of sports cars that is timely, functional and emotional.
“The recently launched 2009 Toyota Venza was also created, developed, and produced by our North American design studios in California and Michigan. It represents our latest effort in bringing our advanced design proposals into production reality. Venza’s bold design characterizes Toyota’s new approach to a fresher perspective.”
Hunter’s career at Calty began after graduation when he was hired as a creative designer. He worked his way up to chief designer and was responsible for the exterior styling of the second generation RAV4.
“The processes of sketching, designing and managing the project were especially fun,” he said. “Despite all of the technical challenges that came with this project, I was proud that the final result retained most of the original design all the way through to production.”
Eventually Hunter was promoted to Calty’s vice president of design and studio operations, and then became president in 2008.
Hunter looks back fondly on his days at CCS. The work ethic he developed and the ability to provide constructive criticism continue to enrich his work today as a leader in the industry.
“My design education at CCS was one of the most enjoyably rewarding experiences of my life.”
“It was satisfying to be learning and growing at such a fast pace, especially for something I am very passionate about." said Hunter.
“Two instructors had a big impact on me: Homer Lagassey and Keith Vreeland. As a very tough instructor who demanded a lot from his students, Homer really emphasized the discipline and hard work that it takes to develop one’s design, drawing, and visual communication skills to a high level. My experience in his course contributed to forming the basis for my work ethic today.
“Keith is an extremely talented artist and designer who really opened my eyes to other stimulating design problems that challenged my creativity from an artistic and technical point of view. His approach to evaluating another person’s design work still helps me today. He always began his critique by pointing out the positive aspects of the work, and then offered advice on how to improve it. I believe it’s a good approach to build morale and educate each other.”