Does it matter where a car is designed? Infiniti thinks so.
Nissan’s upmarket brand has recently opened a London design studio in Paddington, next door to its parent company’s European design headquarters. It will also be followed by similar establishments in Beijing and San Diego, all reporting in to the Japanese HQ.
It's all in the name of bolstering Infiniti’s design credentials as it aims to take a much bigger chunk out of sales currently enjoyed by the European premium brands.
According to Infiniti’s London design boss, Brit designer Simon Cox, the studio’s geography is important because the inner city environment is inspirational for its energy and multi-culturalism. Also because of the cars. "You go out there and see a Rolls, parked next to a Porsche and an Aston over the road. It’s amazing," he said.
All this is helping him and his team help design the next family of Infinitis and what he calls "provocative, but desirable design." Indeed, the London studio has been responsible for the company’s impressive Emerg-e and Essence show cars in the past. Not to mention the Nissan Juke and Qashqai.
I find myself thinking that if I were working for Mr Cox then I’d rather be working in cool, urban Paddington than in Essex or on the outskirts of Coventry. Yet there have been some rather fabulous cars designed in some incredibly dull, uninspiring places. Cox himself, in a former life working for GM, designed some fabulous Cadillacs in some less-than-picturesque corners of the Midlands.
Yet there must be something in it. There’s no doubt that the Rolls-Royce Phantom looks great in London because it was designed there. So too have multitudes of cars that have emerged from California and Tokyo.
We’ve yet to see a production car from Infiniti’s new London set up. I wonder if it will benefit from its birthplace?