The latest vehicles on the market aren't just safer and more reliable than ever — they also incorporate practical and aesthetic features that make them even more attractive. A key reason for the evolution in design? Awesome female designers who are helping to redefine what a vehicle can and should be.
Good Housekeeping's auto coverage is one of the categories I'm most proud of and excited to work on. There's no denying that women are the chief decision makers when it comes to purchasing an automobile (some estimates have it as high as 80% influence). So why are conversations around marketing and selling cars still directed largely to men? In an effort to better empower women and change the dialogue around vehicles to be one that is more female-centric, we have been ramping up our reviews and coverage on the topic.
While it's taken some time to evolve the conversation, manufacturers and marketers are taking note. They continue creating reliable vehicles while incorporating aesthetic and convenience options that are particularly important to women. Think a convenient place to stash your purse, extra charging ports, easy-to-latch hooks for car seats, and so on. It's not that women don't want a great performing car — it's just that when choosing between two equally great cars, convenience factors can help one edge out. Here, an insider's view into some of the lead designers behind these improvements:
Lincoln: Soo Kang, Interior Design Chief
Kang didn't always know auto design was the path for her. In fact, when she moved to the states from Korea she planned on becoming a classic harpist. A fateful auto competition sponsored by Ford derailed that path. Still, when asked what the most notable discerning feature of an automobile is for her, it's no shock it's the audio system! Responsible for redesigns of the MKZ and Navigator concept, Kang's interiors are designed with elegance and utility in mind.
GMC: Helen Emsely, Global Executive Director of Design and User Interface
Not only is a woman at the helm of the company (CEO Mary Barra), but General Motors has several other women in key leadership positions, including Helen Emsley. As a mother herself, she incorporates comfort and practicality into the vehicles she works on, while still maintaining a tasteful aesthetic. With a strong background in color and trim — among other design aspects —Emsely's eye for detail can be seen in the likes of vehicles like the Denali and Stingray.
Volvo: Tisha Johnson, Senior Design Director
Similar to Kang, Johnson didn't take a traditional route when entering the auto-sphere. Instead, she had been working in sales until a colleague (who was picking her up for an event), saw the clay car models she had built in her home. Blown away by her obvious talent, he insisted on a pit stop on the way to the dinner to check out the ArtCenter College of Design. Fast forward several years, and Johnson made headlines with her concept design of Volvo's XC90 (a GH Auto Award winner!) in which a child's carseat was ingeniously integrated.
Acura: Michelle Christensen, Lead Exterior Designer
Her love of design and passion for all things mechanical things led Christensen to a career in automobile design. After completing an automotive design program, she found her way to Acura. She was responsible for the exterior redesign of the performance NSX vehicle, which required grace and aggression. That's no easy task when considering the fact that she had to simultaneously enhance performance and practicality. But maybe notso surprising, considering her favorite vehicle is the '67 Chevelle!