TURIN - Fiat Auto SpA has recalled Andrea Zapatinas from BMW to take charge of Alfa Romeo's styling center.
He will replace Walter De' Silva, who is leaving Alfa Romeo to replace Peter Knapp as head of design at Seat.
Zapatinas originally joined Fiat Auto in 1988 as chief exterior designer for the Fiat brand. He led styling of the Fiat Coupe, launched in 1993, and the Barchetta roadster, unveiled in 1995.
In 1994, Zapatinas moved to BMW as head of exterior and interior design for sports cars.
His boss at Fiat Auto, Fiat brand styling center director Chris Bangle, moved to BMW at the same time to become head of design.
Zapatinas, who will take up his new post on 1 December, inherits a revitalized Centro Stile Alfa Romeo in Milan, near the Arese factory.
De' Silva was put in charge of Alfa's ailing studio in 1986. Under De' Silva, the Proteo and Nuvola concept cars were created.
They set the tone for the design renaissance of Alfa Romeo in the late 1990s with models such as the 156 and 166.
Zapatinas, 41, was born in Greece. He was educated at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
He is not new to the Alfa Romeo brand. He contributed to the exterior design of the 145 while at Fiat. A full-size styling model was developed at Fiat by Chris Bangle's team. It was later refined and developed in Milan by Alfa Romeo.
De' Silva is scheduled to join Seat's design center in Barcelona on 1 December.
According to company insiders, two Alfa Romeo designers will follow him to Seat: Wolfgang Egger, chief designer of the 166, and Zbignew Maurer, who worked on the 156 design team.
Seat's parent company Volkswagen AG wants the Spanish brand to move into Alfa Romeo's market territory in the future.