In the UK the name Grade means show business. For more than four decades, the three Grade brothers have dominated British film, theatre, TV and music.
The two older Grades, Lew and Boris (professional name Bernard Delfont), were granted life peerages in 1976. They are Antony Grade's uncles. His father, Leslie, is equally well-known in the UK arts and entertainment world. The brothers are sons of the Winogradsky family, which emigrated from Odessa in Ukraine to Britain in 1912.
With such a family background Antony should naturally have entered the dazzling world of showbiz, as his brother Michael did.
Instead he decided to create rather than to manage, and he took a four-year design course at Coventry University. Eight years with Ford in UK and Germany followed. In January 1988 he joined Renault. Now 41, he is vice president for design, car programs, and deputy to Patrick le Quement.
He and his wife, who is English, live in Paris with children Natasha, 8, and Joshua, 4.
The only other city worth calling home would be his native London, he says. He speaks fluent French.
'Obviously I am a Francophile, and it's a good life in Paris, but it is also a great place to be in the car business,' Grade says. 'It is ideal. We live in the finest capital in a country we enjoy, and I work for a company that encourages the conceptual approach to design and the freedom to develop a good idea.'
Renault's quest for innovation and variety is reflected in the makeup of the design department, says Grade. Of the 264 staff only half are French. The rest share 14 different nationalities.
There is a regular inflow of recruits from other car design studios 'because they like what we are doing, while we want the benefits of the new touch they can bring to what we perceive as the Renault feel.'
In small cars that means a 'slightly impertinent' style, Grade says. He believes it has never been better expressed than by the new Clio.
The principal design objective was to give a more masculine impression than that achieved by the outgoing car. 'Its stance and proportions made it a bit static,' he says. 'It was pretty, but it didn't make much of a statement. Now we are putting the wheels where they ought to be. The car has more presence, the shape is more dynamic.
'This is nothing to do with the man/woman thing. And anyway, women like a masculine car that looks as if it is protecting them.'
Grade sees the age rather than the gender of the customer as the principal style determinant of the future. 'The Twingo demonstrates the error of designing for the young. The age span of the average buyer is 49 to 52. So the objective is not to design for youngsters who have no money, but to approach older people who are looking for motoring with a youthful flavour.'
Future Renault interior design will take the practical needs of older drivers more seriously into account, he says. Graphics will be larger, switches will be bigger and fewer and located more rationally.
Entry and exit will be made more comfortable through taller door openings and more convenient seat and sill heights.
Better visibility will be more important than aerodynamics. Seats will be more supportive. There will be power assistance for opening the hatch or trunk.
'Manufacturers have talked a lot about demographic change and the growth of the older market, but there is little evidence that the effort issues and annoyance factors which affect mature motorists have been taken into consideration,' Grade says.
'I have to agree that the new Clio interior is no revolution in this respect. In some areas we are not as good as we could be. We have a mature customer group helping us to develop ergonomics in a more efficient and intelligent way. They keep teaching us new things, and we are listening.'
Grade's observation on the new Clio's interior demonstrates what he likes best about working for Renault.
'From the designer's point of view, Renault has huge advantages,' he says. 'It is not big and impersonal, and does not issue strict design briefs. There is close and positive interest from the top, but not so much that it swamps you. The opposite, in fact.
'Renault designers are encouraged to project their personalities, while at the same time the company pushes them to innovate, to be self-critical and never to be satisfied.'