Jorge Díez oversees Spanish auto manufacturers SEAT and Cupra. A protracted-time Wallpaper* reader, the designer has a full portfolio of future fashions on the boards. Born in Galicia, Díez studied industrial design, however retained a eager curiosity in vogue, graphics and transportation design. ‘For me, the automotive is an object that mixes all the pieces,’ he says, describing how he needed to transfer to London’s RCA to be able to discover all these totally different disciplines.
An early internship with Audi led to a scholarship for his second yr after which a job on the German firm, a part of the VW Group. For Audi, he was instrumental within the design of fashions together with the second-generation Audi TT and the first-generation Audi A7. Díez then moved to SEAT, additionally a part of VW, the place he led the Exterior Design Division in the beginning of the final decade.
Again at SEAT since 2019, Díez has been a part of the group overseeing the creation of the brand new standalone Cupra model. Beforehand, the ‘Cupra’ designation was utilized to sportier variations of SEAT’s mannequin vary, however by remodeling the sub-brand into its personal identification, the VW Group has given itself one other outlet for expressive design within the burgeoning EV market.
‘There hadn’t been a brand new model within the European market for a few years,’ says Díez. ‘It was a superb alternative to get into a better market place.’ The origins of the SEAT model lie in post-war Spain, when it was based in 1950 because the nation’s nationwide motor producer, owned partly by the Spanish authorities and Italian industrial stalwart Fiat. The primary SEATs had been re-badged Fiats, and it wasn’t till 1986 that the corporate was taken on by VW.
Cupra arrives unburdened by this heritage, which has left SEAT with a lingering picture of a hot-blooded folks’s automotive, the emotional counterpart to the strictly rational Volkswagen. There are nationwide stereotypes at play right here, in fact, however when has a carmaker ever missed the chance to emphasize these?
For Díez, the brand new model was ‘a white sheet of paper’, and he admits that from the outset, Cupra embodied ‘some ingredient or spirit of the nation, a bit extra emotion’. ‘Cupra doesn’t need to be favored by everybody, he says, ‘however just a few folks will actually adore it.’
Whereas the present vary nonetheless contains ‘sizzling’ variations of SEAT’s Leon and Ateca, there are additionally two distinctive Cupra-badged vehicles, the compact Formentor crossover and the brand new Born, which takes VW’s ID3 platform and provides it barely extra of an edge.
There have additionally been three key idea vehicles within the Cupra journey up to now, the Tavascan electrical SUV, the Terramar, a bigger, plug-in hybrid SUV, and the Cupra UrbanRebel, a compact electrical metropolis automotive. The final is due in 2025, and the primary two in 2024.
One in every of Díez’s duties has been to consolidate Cupra’s picture. ‘We attempt to give every automotive its personal persona,’ he says. ‘We’d lose a little bit of the impact if all of them regarded the identical. As a substitute, they’re like brothers and sisters.’ Key parts, just like the triangular graphic on the lights, entrance and rear, the slash-like creases within the bodywork, and using signature matte colors with copper detailing, all set the corporate aside and imbue a complicated, sporty picture. Compared to SEAT’s common, Desigual- or Mango-like mass-market attraction, Cupra is technical sportswear.
These impressions matter in a market awash with change. ‘We imagine that the vehicles ought to specific that they’re enjoyable to drive,’ says Díez, arguing that the shift to EVs is an enormous alternative. ‘Some manufacturers turn out to be a bit calmer after they go electrical,’ he says. ‘For us, it was all about feelings. My final goal is to create a way of want.’
For all of the speak of emotive design, Díez is frank that being a part of the VW Group provides a comparatively small model like Cupra an enormous benefit. ‘Being within the group means we’ve got many potentialities,’ he says. ‘Nevertheless, how you employ the platforms is as much as every model. And platforms are way more versatile now than prior to now.’
Cupra can also be not about designing outlandish idea vehicles that may by no means attain manufacturing. Nowadays, automotive firms have idea engineers who work alongside the design groups to make sure that design rules dovetail with manufacturing capabilities. ‘Now we have to clarify the significance of each time, so it’s vital we’re all on the identical web page,’ says Díez.
In the end, Díez’s function is to sift, type and establish the differing calls for of future prospects throughout three manufacturers, SEAT, Cupra, and SEAT’s burgeoning electrical private mobility model. ‘We’re trying on the needs and influences of people who find themselves now youngsters,’ he says, stating quirks of future customers – they’re superb with their palms, however not so agile with their toes. Design is a manner into these totally different approaches.
‘It’s vital to look exterior the automotive world,’ he says. ‘We don’t use “basic” supplies like wooden or chrome, for instance.’ As a substitute, the impartial matt colors and flashes of bare copper give Cupra its personal identification, as does the overt use of recycled plastics and issues like Neoprene on the seats. Díez and his group are exploring the potential of 3D-printing so as to add additional personalisation, however the designer additionally stresses that fashionable LED lighting methods can even make every inside particular person and distinctive.
To stress the sporting potential, Cupra interiors are typically extra driver-focused (‘It’s a bit egoistic,’ admits the designer), whereas even parts like inside scent and sound are thought of. ‘For us, a designer must be like a sponge, able to absorbing all the pieces and analysing it,’ Díez says. ‘Objects can speak with out phrases.’
In the end, it’ll be manufacturers like Cupra that give voice to the subsequent technology’s response to the auto. ‘Pace and acceleration as soon as generated feelings,’ says Díez, ‘however we’re trying to set off these emotions another way. The secret is using know-how. I believe Cupra is effectively positioned to discover all these totally different facets.’