Huey Lee, Creative Director of Mercedes’ Advanced Design California, has been appointed to succeed current Vice President of Mercedes Advanced Design China, Olivier Boulay. The move effectively sees Lee head over to China for a three year stint, while Boulay returns to Europe for an unspecified role within Daimler’s design organization in Stuttgart, Germany. Oliver Samson will fill Lee’s shoes in California, reporting to Vice President of Mercedes Advanced Design California, Margarete Wies. The change comes into effect December 1st.
Huey Lee’s been with Mercedes-Benz since he graduated from the prestigious Art Center College of Design over a decade ago. He is responsible for the F800 concept as well as the second generation CLS, a project which took him to Germany to complete, causing him to miss the birth of his first child.
Watch our exclusive video interview with Huey Lee here
Having risen through the ranks — and following in the footsteps of global design boss Gorden Wagener — Lee went to work on devising proposals for the future Mercedes-Benz design language when he became Creative Director for Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America, Daimler’s first design studio outside Germany, in 2010. He was appointed to the role when his predecessor, Joel Piaskowski, left the company after little more than a year into the role.
Lee has since been responsible for the Carlsbad, California based 34,000 sq-ft Advanced Design facility overseeing the work of 25 people. He will now oversee all activities in the new China Advanced Design Center and look after a design team that’s set to grow twice that size.
Lee will be replaced by Oliver Samson, a Pforzheim University graduate who joined Mercedes in 2003 and worked on the development of the Mercedes Vision Gran Turismo, amongst others, during his time at Mercedes’ Advanced Design studio in Germany. Here he is describing the design process of the Vision Gran Turismo:
Olivier Boulay has had a varied career both in Europe and Asia. But he is also a Mercedes-Benz veteran, having joined the company in 1987 after roles at PSA Peugeot-Citroen, IDEA Institute and Porsche AG (working under the leadership of Anatole Lapine and Richard Soedoberg).
A graduate of the Royal College of Art Vehicle Design course, Boulay led the development of Mercedes’ first generation (W202) C-Class, W210 E-Class, W140 S-Class and the C140 S Class Coupe as a design manager in Germany prior to heading over to Japan to open the company’s Advanced Design Center in Tokyo. There, he presided over the F200 Imagination concept presented at the Paris motor show in 1996, the second generation SLK and the 1997 Maybach concept.
Between his appointment as General Manager at Mercedes’ Advanced Design Center in Japan, Boulay also worked as chief designer for Subaru where he led the design and development of the second generation Subaru Legacy and the pre-production work for the Subaru Impreza. He later returned to Germany to usher in the production Maybach 57 and 62 models and the Mercedes-Benz F400 ‘Carving’ prototype presented at the 2001 Tokyo motor show.
After founding the advanced design center in Japan, Boulay took on the role of Senior Executive Officer and Corporate General Manager at Mitsubishi’s product design office (then under the direction of Daimler) and led the MMC global design team on 50 production car projects and 19 concept cars. He then returned to Daimler’s advanced design center in Japan, where he led the team to create the Mercedes-Benz F600 fuel cell prototype revealed at the 2005 Tokyo motor show and as well as several other Mercedes projects.
Boulay was relocated to establish Daimler’s presence in China in 2009 and was instrumental in creating the then new design center in Beijing in 2011. He was responsible for the development of the Denza production electric car (conceived through the Daimler/BYD joint venture) as well as the Smart e-scooter. The G-Code is his last Mercedes concept as the Vice President of Daimler Northeast’s China design center, a role he was appointed to in 2009.