rampstyle #29

Luc Donckerwolke: The Space–Time–Calm Continuum

Luc Donckerwolke is considered one of the most important automotive designers of our time. As chief creative officer, he is not only responsible for the design of Genesis vehicles, but also for an entire brand world. Both are profoundly influenced by Korean culture.

Which, in turn, is all about being there for others.

  • Interview
    Michael Köckritz
  • Photos
    Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures
Mr. Donckerwolke, how important is automotive design in your life?

For me, it is a combination of my passion for cars and the gift of being able to draw, a way to illustrate things that didn’t exist in my small world. I grew up in Africa and South America, where the roads were often in poor condition and you would see mainly Jeeps, Land Rovers and old pick-ups – but no Porsches, for example. So I started to draw them on paper. These drawings were my attempt at creating a world for myself, and that obsession continues to drive me to this day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work.

Doesn’t work? But here in your garage you’ve got six perfect Porsche 911s, from legendary classics to fairly modern models to highly sought-after collector’s editions like a Speedster.

Well, yeah. But the problem is, you get used to things and then you want more. It’s always like that.

Is this obsession with cars driven by their design or rather by the idea of the car as a symbol of freedom? Or is it a combination of both?

I think it’s about my love for the product. Though I should elaborate on that a bit. Actually, I’m not all that interested in the finished car itself. For the most part, it’s the process of designing and creating that I love. And I wouldn’t confine that to only the design – that also applies to the product as a whole. Imagine taking a car apart and putting it back together again: I find every aspect of the car fascinating – the design, of course, but also the technology, the way a car functions mechanically. I love it when a product works. And that doesn’t just apply to cars.


“I’m not all that interested in the finished car itself. For the most part, it’s the process of designing and creating that I love.”
You work with nineteen design studios worldwide, a thousand people work for you. How do you manage all that? What do you see as your role here?

I see myself more as a kind of manager or coach, a trainer. I set the course and provide the motivation. I love working with such a big team because it gives me the opportunity to try out many different things. I’m very curious and want to see what happens when we try one thing or the other. And I always gamble on happy accidents.

Playful invention?

Exactly. Wherever you see bad design – and this is true not only in the automotive industry – it can be due to bad designers, but it can also be an indication of poor management. You need a form of management that places a high level of trust in the design department and gives them the freedom for inventive play. The awards I’ve won with my teams show that that’s exactly what we have going for us. Yes, we have very good designers here, but we are also given the necessary freedom and trust. I have always worked a bit against the system. And here at Hyundai, I also understand my work in such a way that I manage my people as if it were my company, so I don’t have the mindset of an employee. I’ve always done things that way. I didn’t design the Lamborghini Murciélago for Lamborghini, I designed it for myself. [laughs] But I can only do that if I can identify with a product one hundred percent.

→ Read the full interview soon in rampstyle #29.

Michael Köckritz

Michael Köckritz

Editor in Chief
As a journalist, author, artist and media maker, Michael Köckritz succeeds time and again in creating both attention-grabbing and sustainably stimulating impulses in the context of contemporary and future topics as well as lifestyle and luxury worlds. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he has realised a whole series of book and lifestyle magazine formats that have regularly won numerous national and international awards over the years. The car culture magazine ramp, the men's lifestyle magazine rampstyle and the design magazine ramp.design are published internationally and are considered style-setting.

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