You might have heard the phrase ‘less is more’. It was one of the rallying calls for the post-war architectural modernists who wanted to chuck out the Victorian chintz and design buildings of extreme simplicity and – often – brutality.
We all know how well that dictum worked out for building, but I’m beginning to believe that it might be an increasingly sensible approach for all non-premium car manufacturers.
I found myself mulling this after my three-day tour of the Dacia operation in Romania.
The first stop on the trip was to the Dacia styling studio in central Bucharest. It’s in one of the corners of the Romanian capital that did not succumb to the concrete tower blocks of the Communist era. A very pretty late 19th-century building, the Dacia design headquarters sits in its own courtyard and used to be the Swiss Embassy.
The design studios are run by Brit Geoff Gardiner, a very talented bloke I used to know a little when he was a post-grad student at London’s Royal College of Art. Gardiner was snapped up by Citroën, had a spell at Ford and was more recently at Renault.
He’s now head of Central European design and head of perceived quality for Renault. There are just 24 designers at the Budapest studio, which opened in 2007, with all large-scale model making and prototyping of parts carried out by an external company nearby.