Automobile magazine's design guru Robert Cumberford does a great job profiling Frank Stephenson, new MINI designer and current head of Ferrari Maserati design in the latest issue. Here's an excerpt:
“One can understand why the MINI project so appealed to Ferrari management: it is a completely modern interpretation of the '50s design, instantly recognizable. Pininfarina will continue to produce classic Ferraris, identifiable at a glance. Multiple designers, including Pininfarina, will continue to produce concepts for Maserati, as has been the case since the company started making road cars. Stephenson's job is to make sure that both marques are true to their heritages, that they remain emotional and sensual and Italian…”
I think it's easier for the general public to dismiss a designer's creation rather than study it, understand it, and eventually learn to enjoy it. Yet Frank Stephenson made that last bit pretty easy with his design of the MINI. I think he's done the same with the Maserati MC12 and the Ferrari F430.
However, as deserving as Frank is for such an opportunity, I can't help but wish he was back at BMW heading the next generation MINI project due out in just a few years. And I think the obvious thought of most MINI enthusiasts out there is, how did BMW lose this guy and how will the new MINI's design evolve without its creator? Apparently Frank has also sensed this feeling among the MINI faithful. In a recent email to me he commented, “I only hope that the MINI continues its success, making people feel just that little bit happier when they come into contact with it! BMW has a great team behind it and I'm sure they will work hard to improve on it in every way.”