Chic Stylista | By Miami Fashion Blogger Afroza Khan

Interview with Soo Kang – Designing Luxury for Women by Women at Lincoln

I truly admire women who works towards their passion to find their true calling. I had a chance to interview one such woman, Soo Kang the Lincoln Interior Design Chief. After driving the Lincoln MKX 2016 for a week, I wanted to learn more about how Kang conceptualized the interior design of the MKX and the new 2017 Lincoln Continental.

Here’s an interesting fact according to NY Times, in 2015 women were responsible for 85% of luxury sales. I can totally believe it – we know luxury and we know what looks good, right ladies? The new Lincoln Continental features a Perfect Position seats with 30 different settings, believe me it’s enough options to find not one but multiple perfect seating positions.

Read the wonderful interview and get ready to be inspired.

Lincoln MKX Black Label Luxury Crossover

My Lincoln MKX 2016 for the week.

Chic Stylista: I love the fact that creative women are working in a male-dominated automotive industry. How did you get started working in automotive design?

Soo Kang: I truly feel blessed for the work I do everyday, but it did not come without plenty of hard work. I came to America from Korea with great plans to study the art of music – I even wanted to become a classical harpist. However, throughout my studies I realized I had an aptitude for a different type of art – visual art. I spent more and more of my time sculpting and drawing, and I eventually graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Arts.

Interestingly enough, my career with The Ford Motor Company began when I entered a competition to design a unique four-door sedan. I won the competition, which opened the door I needed to start working in the automotive industry. I suggest that a woman pursue every opportunity (both career and personal) that comes her way, even if it seems like a long shot. Some may work out well and others may not. However, every experience (good or bad) is valuable and can help you determine your direction in life.

Lincoln MKX 2016 Steering Wheel Car Blogger

Chic Stylista: What is a day in the life of a luxury car designer?

Soo Kang: As a luxury automotive designer, I live quite a thrilling life. Every day I am working on a different project and directing my team of designers and researchers. And each of those projects is at a different stage, which takes a refined sense of organization and attention to detail. I conduct, and am involved in, a lot of research which requires a significant amount of travel to various research sites.

My favorite part of the day is when I am creating something, whether it is an interior design model or a simple sketch.

Chic Stylista: Can you describe what inspired you to design the key elements of the all-new Continental? Do you have a design process?

Soo Kang: As with all Lincoln vehicles, my research for the design of the Lincoln Continental interior happened in three stages. The first step is to gain inspiration through observational research. You need to find your audience, the customers, and learn about them. Simply by observing Lincoln’s potential customers, I gain insight into their lifestyle, their wants and needs, their personal flair, what they use their vehicle for and plenty of other interesting facts. Next, we conduct market research. This delves more deeply into the wants and needs of our current and potential customers and it directs the development of the vehicle’s interior. Finally, we test the finished vehicle with sample markets to see if we’ve attained our design goals.

For the all-new Lincoln Continental, I wanted the driver or passenger to have a luxury experience every time they got in or out of the vehicle. In this way, the Lincoln Continental evokes a sense of elegance, serenity and power. The Continental’s E-latch door handles tuck discreetly away into the vehicle’s beltline and act like a luxury handshake. We also recognized that the gear shift can separates passengers, so we’ve implanted push button controls instead. The Perfect Position Seat provides tailored comfort to the passenger. The Lincoln Continental is a “powerful, yet effortless” statement, and each element of the vehicle helps to build that feeling.

2017 Lincoln Continental

The All New 2017 Lincoln Continental

2017 Lincoln Continental

2017 Lincoln Continental Interior

Chic Stylista: I read in an article that you travel the world in searching for what will be in the next automobile and what will be valued. What are some of the places during your travel you drew inspiration from?

Soo Kang: Travel is one of the greatest opportunities to gain inspiration through observations. As I mentioned before, the first step of designing the interior of a vehicle is to immerse yourself in your customer’s world. Time is really the ultimate luxury a person has. So, it’s very insightful to sit down with a cup of tea and simply people watch. Do they have kids? Are they wearing makeup? How do the people around me interact with their companions? No detail is too small.

One travel experience that was particularly interesting was a trip to Hangzhou, China. There, it is common to see people living luxuriously, but at the same time they do not want to show off their wealth. This is the essence of the Lincoln experience. It is what we call ‘Quiet Luxury”. Luxury that is elegant, effortlessly powerful and serene – quietly exceeding customer’s expectations rather than being the loudest statement on the road. Trips to New York, California and Germany have also greatly influenced my design process.

Chic Stylista: What is your favorite design element on the new Lincoln Continental?

Soo Kang: This is difficult to say. As I mentioned before, what makes the Lincoln Continental so special is that every aspects works together to create an emotion. All elements elevate the harmony of the vehicle, so while the Perfect Position Seats and the Revel Ultima audio system are luxurious and elegant, they do not create the desired emotional experience on their own.

Lincoln MKX Revel Ultima audio system

Lincoln MKX 2016 Interior – Revel Ultima Audio System

Chic Stylista: What trends do you expect to see emerge in the years ahead?

Soo Kang: With so many luxury automotive options on the market, I see a real trend of creating a personalized experience. You’ll find that all of the recently redesigned Lincoln vehicles have a common denominator: they all have open and spacious elements while providing a panorama-like view. In order to personalize the driving experience, the different models are tailored to a different type of Lincoln customer. The Lincoln MKZ, for example, is soft, seductive and alluring. Our small SUV, the Lincoln MKC, is spirited and young at heart. The Lincoln MKX, our mid-size SUV, is sophisticated. And, as you know, the Continental has a modern formal design that evokes the feeling that you have arrived.

Lincoln MKX Car Blogger Dashboard

Lincoln MKX 2016 Interior

Chic Stylista: What advice would you give to someone looking to buy a new car? What design elements should they be aware of?

Soo Kang: Every single car provides a similar function, so you have to go off what you feel.  While a lot of importance is placed on the exterior of the vehicle, you really only see the outside for the split second that you are entering or exiting the vehicle. You spend so much time enjoying the interior of the vehicle, so when looking to buy a new vehicle I would make sure that the interior is something that speaks to you.

Lincoln MKX Interior SeatsLincoln MKX 2016 Interior

 Lincoln MKX Front Detail

Lincoln MKX 2016

Thank you all for stopping by – xoxo, Afroza

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