Ken Melville, in charge of interior design for small cars
Born: 1959, Glasgow, Scotland
KEN MELVILLE has two passions: cars and France.
'When I was 10, my father took me to the Jackie Stewart Speed Show,' says Melville, who grew up in Scotland. 'It was a mini auto show, with racing cars and drivers. I began asking for documentation from carmakers so that I could copy the pictures.'
His favorites were - and are - the Maserati Ghibli and the Lamborghini Countach.
At the Royal College of Art, London his teachers were Jerry McGovern, who later created the MGF roadster and Land Rover Freelander and Geoff Lawson, now Jaguar's chief designer. Among his schoolmates was Murat Gunak, who until recently was Peugeot's chief designer.
When Melville graduated in 1984, he was offered a number of jobs, including one at Rover and Opel. Carl Olsen, then Citroen's chief designer and today head of transportation design at the Center for Creative Studies, a design school in Detroit, convinced him to join Citroen. 'To go to Citroen was a little risky,' he said. 'Above all I was attracted by France.'
Melville focused on interior design during seven years at Citroen. He later moved to Mercedes-Benz, where he met up with Gunak again on the SLK coupe project.
At the 1992 Paris auto show, he was offered a job by Jean-Francois Venet, head of Renault advanced design.
'When I was in Germany I did not think of Renault,' said Melville. 'I had been interested in the Megane and Laguna concept cars. I knew about Patrick Le Quement's work. But the Twingo triggered something in my mind.'
After joining Renault in 1993 Melville's first task was the interior design of the Clio 2. Today, Melville works closely with Anne Asensio, head of small-car styling and designer of the 1991 Scenic concept car.
'We are currently thinking hard about emotional ergonomics,' says Melville. 'Everything related with the pleasure to touch, to handle objects.'
Melville, who plays drums with an amateur jazz band, says Renault now has an American style of management.
'In 1984, Renault and Citroen were in about the same situation: bad quality and poor design,' he said. 'In 1993, when I came from Mercedes-Benz, I found that Renault had very good organization: good technical support and schedules with enough time to do a nice job.'