Today’s featured car designer is Michael Burton!
From Atlanta Auto Reviews:
We tend to take note of the finished product, finding fault or favor in the design of new cars. Rarely, if ever, do we stop and pay homage to the person and/or the team responsible for making it all happen.
Back in September, GM brought Michael Burton to town to greet the media. Burton, a two time cancer survivor and man of the cloth, held the title of “Director, Exterior Design for Crossover Vehicles” at GM.
After a four-year scholarship to the Center for Creative Studies, Burton went on to grad school for his Master’s Degree, exiting with a job at Ford, prior to becoming the first African American designer at Chrysler. That led him to GM in 1999, as lead designer (exteriors) for the Cadillac SRX and STS. Moving on up, Burton became design manager of exteriors and interiors for prestige and performance platforms to include Cadillac’s XLR, SRX and STS. When we met I believe his recent accomplishments included interior designs for the Volt, Enclave, Traverse, Terrain and Equinox. Burton’s says his desire was to up the ante in terms of what GM could offer the public. He did so at a time when the average luxury seeking American had his or her eyes on foreign made brands where quality, technology, design and performance was previously unmatched by America’s legacy automobile manufacturers.
“The auto industry is about fashion,” Burton explained. “We visited Porsche, Bentley, Range Rover, Audi and Jaguar to get a feel for what was creative in order to help determine what the premium customer is looking for. I have a pretty young staff as well,” which Burton agrees helped to make brands such as Buick (formerly know as “grand-daddy’s car”)–now more relevant, all of which began with the current generation Lacrosse.
Speaking of Buick’s, GM arranged to have an Enclave on hand for the interview. The $35,615 Enclave is one of the models in which Burton lead and oversaw the interior design. And like a proud poppa, he climbed into the captain’s seat from where he pointed out a few of his team’s proudest accomplishments.
“We wanted to capture some of the heritage of the older vehicles, which had a lot of character and depth with curves, such as the air vents with a central focus. We wanted to bring some of those iconic features forward with other premium elements. Warmer colors and wood accents to make the experience intrinsically pleasant. Sport utility gives it a command of the road, with plenty of storage. Articulated armrest makes it comfortable whether the driver is tall of short. And there’s plenty of cup-holder space,” Burton explained before pointing out one of his favorite features: the fluid design and storage space. “Enclave can house a 4×8 sheet of plywood when both rear seat rows are folded.”
Burton has since been appointed the position of interior design lead for the next generation Chevrolet Volt—the model year of which is being kept totally on the hush. Based on the outcome of Burton’s performance to date, I trust the legend of the dedicated man to continue.