Patrick Le Quement may have an almost perfect English accent, but he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French government for his role in reintroducing 'Frenchness' to Renault. As Renault's vice president of corporate design, he is one of Europe's highest-profile car stylists, and is credited with revitalizing Renault with models such as the Twingo, Avantime and Scenic.
Vice president of corporate design, Renault.
Director of design at VW.
French, English, German.
Married, three sons aged 28, 21 and 13, one dog.
Countries lived in:
France, UK, USA, Germany.
First job in the car business?
With Simca styling, 1966
What cars are parked in your garage?
A couple of Renaults, the car of at least one competitor and a red Ferrari 328 GTB.
What drives you?
I am passionate about my job.
In work terms, what achievement pleases you most?
What we have achieved at Renault design. I am very proud of the Twingo. It was a very decisive project in terms of positioning Renault design. I am also proud of the fact that we have fought and won the battle to have design considered as an equal partner alongside other disciplines - such as engineering - within Renault.
In personal terms, what achievement has given you most satisfaction?
Being awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honour.
Why do you think emphasizing Renault's 'Frenchness' is important?
It is strategic. We don't believe in the concept of the world car. We believe nationality is important.
Where do you get your best ideas?
Talking with my designers. We often go out together to look at things (outside the car industry) because we need to see what's happening in other fields and to be culturally as well as intellectually fed.
How would you describe yourself to others?
Extremely demanding. A perfectionist.
What are you good at?
Working with people, listening, helping people to express themselves.
How do you relax?
I don't. I can't stand wasting time, so I'm always doing things. I read a lot, I like to go for walks, I do things with the family and I polish my Ferrari.
What kind of things do you read?
Normally books on topics such as philosophy and the evolution of society. At the moment I am reading 'The Sun, the Genome and the Internet' by Freeman J. Dyson. I read novels when I'm on holiday and I read about 70 periodicals a month from around the world.
What subjects do they cover?
Everything from management and architecture to design, cars and the auto business.
Who is your favourite author?
The aviator Saint-Exupery. I have treasured his phrase 'what's important is not to predict the future but to make it possible' ever since I read it as a student.
Are you interested in film?
My wife goes to see a lot of films. I go less and usually fall asleep.
What type of food do you like best?
French and Italian.
What's your favourite restaurant?
La Tour d'Argent and Lasserre in Paris and Michel Bras in Laguiole in a very remote part of France.
Do you have a favorite place for holidays?
No. We go somewhere different every year. Recently we've been to Indonesia and Tahiti. This year we will rent a house in France and spend time with our new grandson.
What do you do on planes?
I read. I also take the opportunity to theorize on design strategy and to write down my ideas. At present I am working on the evolution of design in the field of interiors.
Will you put your thoughts into a book?
Yes, I am working on one.
What sort of topics inspire you to write?
I am interested in exploring the whole area of managing the creative process and creative teams.
Do you ever think of retiring early?
I have no plans to do so. The only way I will go out before I'm 65 is feet first.
Do you work weekends?
I used to, as up to a year ago I had two jobs. I was in charge of design and quality at Renault. This was very demanding and I worked seven days a week. It was not good from a health point of view, but I learned a lot from the experience.
Is there anything you dislike about your life?
The fact that I have to sleep.
What people do you admire within the auto business?
Bob Lutz, my former boss at VW Dr. Hahn, and Ferdinand Piech.
Do you have a best friend in the motor business?
I have quite a few. But I really enjoy seeing Trevor Creed who works for Chrysler design. We were at college together.
What people do you admire outside the auto business?
Arnaud of LVMH (the luxury goods company) and Dumas of Hermes. I am a student of the French luxury goods sector. They are a great inspiration for us. I am also interested in leaders. I think de Gaulle was a giant.
What companies do you admire outside the auto business?
Sony. I have studied this company in detail and I think it is exceptional. I particularly admire its ability to continually innovate in a highly competitive sector that demands very quick responses.
Do you have a favourite business quote?
Yes - it's from Sir Denys Lasdun and it sums up our design strategy at Renault: 'Our job is to give the client on time, and on cost, not what he wants but what he never dreamed he wanted and, when he gets it, he recognizes it as something he wanted all the time.'
What's the next big thing in the auto business?
Components miniaturization resulting in a radical rethink of interior packaging.