College for Creative Studies: Transportation Design


Susan Lampinen

Ford Motor Company

Chief Designer, Ford North America

Susan Lampinen oversees design teams at several Ford studios. She guides designers who have been assigned to specific projects, or vehicles, and she assigns technical experts to research specific commodities.

She also provides direction for strategic teams, who help predict future trends, and ensures that all decisions are consistent with Ford's brand identity.

"My favorite aspect of working with colors and materials and interiors is looking at future trend predictions and coming up with a vision. Then I put together a plan to achieve this vision."

Deciding the colors and materials that will be used in vehicle interiors released months from now and establishing Ford"s design vision for the future, Lampinen looks for ways to make vehicles more comfortable and personalized. Consumers spend more time in their cars now than ever before and demand closer attention to detail and better quality materials. She predicts that in the future, they will want more sensory experiences, such as additional lighting and color options, and new subtle uses of technology that involve more than the radio and cell phone.

"Most importantly, I think we will see more in terms of sustainability," said Lampinen. "Rather than owners driving cars 'to the grave,' they will pass them on from 'cradle-to-cradle.'"

While Lampinen was a student at CCS, she developed close relationships with her classmates, many of which are now key players in the industry. She also enjoyed the real world knowledge she gained while participating in the school's internship program. She interned at Renault in Paris and Prince Automotive, an interior automotive supplier now owned by Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), in Grand Rapids. Following graduation, Lampinen worked for DaimlerChrysler in Auburn Hills and Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design in California before landing her job at Ford.

"The opportunity to be immersed in art and design was phenomenal,"said Lampinen. "CCS was truly a complete experience...After graduation I was prepared to begin my career right away."