Julie Schwieder, 42
Assistant chief color designer, Toyota Europe
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I came from a background of applied arts and started as a trainee with Peugeot. I loved the practical aspects of the work. For a designer, it’s really rewarding to see that your creations are liked and enjoyed by consumers.
Your greatest achievement?
The development of the design for the new-generation Yaris in 2020 and the Yaris Cross in 2021. I wanted the fourth-generation Yaris to come across as proud, to stand out from the crowd and seem empowered by the success of its predecessors. It worked because the Yaris was voted 2021 European Car of the Year.
Born: Metz, France
Nationality: French and German
Languages: French, English, German
Education: Degrees in fashion and environment as well as arts and textiles, Duperre School of Applied Arts, Paris, France
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
It was my first product at Toyota. I had just joined the company, and I was assigned to an important project for the European market. I was new and I didn’t have the confidence to convince others or push my vision for the project. Unfortunately, the media didn’t receive the result well when it was released. However, a failure always offers the opportunity to get better. I learned many things from this project. I now trust myself more and I’m more assertive and confident when proposing my ideas.
What is your current challenge at work?
To help make our industry more sustainable. New generations want transparency as well as completely sustainable products and solutions. My aim is to never compromise when it comes to the sustainability or the design impact.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
There is no need to over think. Just follow your intuition.
April 2021-present: Assistant chief color designer, Toyota Europe Design Development, Nice, France
2016-present: Senior color designer, Toyota Europe, Nice
2015-2016: Color designer, Toyota Motor, Toyota City, Japan
2008-present: Color designer, Toyota Europe, Nice
2007: Designer color, Nissan, London, England
2005-2006: Designer, Volkswagen Group, Paris, France
2004-2005: Designer color and trim, Renault, Boulogne Billancourt, France
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
I would tell them it’s an exciting time to get started in the “mobility” industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
My current job continues to evolve. I’m a part of Toyota’s CMF (color, materials and finishes) team. We are responsible for creating a design identity that will succeed in Europe while staying true to our Japanese origins. I’m constantly tracking and assessing the trends that will keep us ahead when it comes to innovative future styling. In recent years, the role of CMF has shifted with the rapid development of UX (user experience) design and sustainable materials. In fact, they have become increasingly important. The COVID-19 crisis has also increased interest in ethical aspects such as transparency and corporate responsibility. It’s not just the younger generation that wants to be informed. Digital tools give all of us access and information on the products we produce. It’s why I love my job. My CMF role keeps me continuously looking toward the future and moving forward.
What do you do to relax?
Yoga and gardening are my hobbies. It sounds basic but it’s really useful and fuels my creativity.
What is your dream location to live?
I am very fortunate to already live in my dream location, Cannes, France.
What is your favorite driving song?
It’s “J’t’enmene au vent” from the French rock band Louise Attaque. The cassette was stuck in the tape player of my first car, so I listened to it often. The melody reminds me of the sensation of freedom I felt when I passed my driver’s test.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
During my two years in Japan I spent a few days with some colleagues driving from Nagoya to the Mie Prefecture, which is on Honshu Island. I drove around the coast and up into the mountains on narrow, winding roads. The scenery was amazing and so was the wildlife. I saw wild monkeys and eagles, which is something I had never experienced. I also got to drive a Toyota Aqua G, which isn’t sold in Europe, creating a perfect combination: a cool car and an amazing road.
What was your first car?
A very old Volkswagen Polo.
I drive a white Lexus UX.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
The DeLorean from “Back to the Future” movie franchise in the 1980s. I think it would come in very handy to research future trends.