Klatt, a designer and engineer who has enjoyed a diverse career as both creative professional and business leader, joined the College for Creative Studies in January. He served most recently as Vice President of Global Design at Fisker Automotive, where he led a world-class development team for the innovative Karma platform, among the world’s first luxury hybrid electric cars.
According to Klatt, the next generation of designers will need not only to conceive of solutions to problems we already encounter — urban sprawl, for example, or sustainable modes of transportation —but also conceive of what the new problems might be. The MFA Transportation Design program at CCS is uniquely poised to produce such designers.
“At CCS, I can focus on this new generation, using real transportation projects,” Klatt explained, referring to the department’s longstanding relationships — encompassing project sponsorships, internships and employment — with automotive industry leaders. “Transportation design needs to focus on mobility issues to meet the evolving nature of people, their needs and the environment in which they live. I know there is a broad pool of diverse skill sets and experiences in companies and institutions around Detroit which make me believe the ‘evolution’ in transportation will blossom here.”
As MFA Chair of Transportation Design at CCS, Klatt oversees the graduate curriculum in order to meet the highest industry standards. But in this new role, he will also reinforce the department’s mission to educate successful designers who can think critically and strategically about transportation and innovate in response to current and future opportunities.
Klatt also teaches two MFA courses each semester, an aspect of his position he greets enthusiastically. He explains that his decision to join CCS will enable him to focus on educating a new cohort of transportation innovators.
“In business, you’re responsible to hire the best professionals who are experienced in applying the design process to market opportunities and delivering high quality results under budget and time pressures,” Klatt said. “At CCS, my focus will be to teach our graduate students how to apply the creative design process across a diverse set of transportation projects and experience ‘real world’ challenges.”
MFA Transportation Design students will indeed benefit from Klatt’s deep experience. As Vice President of Global Design at Fisker Automotive, he helped develop and motivate an interdisciplinary working culture and led a team of 32 exterior, interior, color and materials and user experience designers, clay and digital modelers as well as prototype fabricators to develop three variations on the Karma and Atlantic platforms.
“Alexander has the expertise and sensibilities of a creative professional and the acumen of someone who has navigated the world of business,” said Joanne Healy, Dean of Graduate Studies. “It’s a combination that is a core driver for the MFA Transportation Design program at CCS, so we’re especially excited to have him join us.”
Alexander Klatt joined Fisker in 2008 as Director of Interior Design, Color and Materials Design and User Interface Design and not only oversaw all design activities for each vehicle platform but also designed the interiors of the Karma, Sunset and Atlantic himself. Prior to his work at Fisker, Klatt also held design leadership roles at BMW DesignworksUSA and BMW Group in Germany, among others.
“The designer is typically the one who gives a vehicle its soul, feels emotionally and thinks holistically about the product value in its market environment,” said Klatt. “Through the combination of radically new technologies in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Nano Materials and Fuel Cell Propulsion current vehicles will change dramatically. It will be a fantastic explorative opportunity for our students to learn how to reimagine and reinvent transportation design. Designers need to be ready for this challenge and I’m committed to share all my learning and experiences with our students and faculty. I’m excited to spark passion and enthusiasm in our students to come up with visionary concepts for the future of mobility, as individual vehicles and as a symbiotic system.”