Transportation Design


Spencer Chamberlain

General Motors

Creative Designer

Spencer Chamberlain served as a missionary in Argentina after graduating from high school. This exposure to a “more simple way of life” sparked his interest in contributing to low cost, appropriate design for low income individuals.

“My experience in Argentina shaped my whole perspective—that what I create as a designer must be meaningful and simple for the consumer,” said Chamberlain. “This perspective was further molded during an internship I took on at General Motors in 2008. While designing a potential car for the Russian market, I was exposed to the potential of emerging markets in other countries, especially in India and China. 

“I believe my thesis I completed through CCS’ graduate program in transportation design was the first step toward one of my biggest dreams: designing vehicles for very low income people in the developing world. My goal is to either design these vehicles at an existing company or start my own. I want to design transportation that promotes self sufficiency and personal economic growth.”

Prior to his graduate thesis, Chamberlain spent six weeks in Hong Kong designing an electric vehicle for the Chinese market. There he learned the challenging and essential role of immersion reach in the design process.

“Believing in your dreams allows them to come true, but only through persistence, patience and sometimes stubbornness,” he said. “Also, Lei Zhang, my classmate, taught me that it saves a lot of time at the beginning of a design project to structure your concept with general topics like person, product, profit and planet, then find the core of each aspect and relate linkages between them for today as well as the future.”

Currently, Chamberlain is a creative designer at General Motors. In this position, he contributes to the look of vehicle exteriors by sketching and rendering concepts. Then, he works with a clay modeler to sculpt his designs. In addition to “hands-on” design work, Chamberlain is also responsible for design strategy, which involves consumer analysis, trends analysis and some service and interface design.

“Working at General Motors as a creative designer has been another of my dreams,” said Chamberlain. “It would be amazing if I could develop extremely low cost vehicles under the GM umbrella.

“Right now, I am working on a Chevrolet show car and a very broad and complex project that I cannot say much about at the moment. My greatest professional accomplishment over these past few months has been contributing useful consumer insights to the team of designers working on this project. Generally speaking, my insight has influenced their design directions and their approach to the design process. This particular project has been very rewarding because it utilizes many of the skills I developed through the CCS MFA program.”

In his spare time, Chamberlain enjoys spending time with his wife Kristen and their four-year old daughter Emma. He also plans on revisiting his triathlon training program.