Ford design director Christopher Svensson passed away on Saturday, July 21, 2018, after a battle with cancer. He was just 53 years old.
Born in Sunderland, England, Svensson was a lifelong car enthusiast and served Ford his entire career, most recently as the global design director for the company’s SUV, trucks and commercial vehicle lineup.
Before Ford restructured the design organization, Svensson was design director for the Americas, a role in which he oversaw the design development of the new Ford GT in the company’s secret design studio. He was one of the first people on the order books and took delivery of the car earlier this year.
With Ford, Svensson travelled the world. He worked in Germany, England, Australia, and at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. He led numerous design projects under the direction of Ford of Europe executive design director Martin Smith, Ford global design vice president J Mays and, later, Ford global design vice president Moray Callum.
Svensson considered himself an artist. He’d done a foundation art course at Sunderland Polytechnic before enrolling in Coventry University’s automotive design program and then attended the Royal College of Art vehicle design course.
His dream of becoming a car designer materialized when he graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1992. He joined Ford’s design center in Cologne, Germany, and brought his innovative idea for the Ford Ka along with him. The 1996 production Ka closely resembled his final year thesis project from the RCA.
Over the course of his career he’d discovered how cost, feasibility, and regional taste could impact projects but always strived for the highest possible level of design quality.
“Desirability is really key,” Svensson told me in a 2014 interview. “People really need to want to buy our products because they find them sexy or appealing or functionally they just over-deliver on expectations. Desirability is key to moving forward.”
Christopher Svensson is survived by his wife Sonia and two daughters. Our thoughts are with them in this difficult time.