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The Designers, Pt 10 – Dave Marek, Honda

Mon, 14 Jul 2014

Car Design News launched its first-ever Car Design Review yearbook at the Geneva Motor Show, featuring the award-winning Production Car and Concept Car Designs of 2013.

If you're interested in buying a copy of the 160-page yearbook this interview appears in, alongside trend reports, bespoke car design infographics and a special feature on Marcello Gandini, our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Car Design Review can be purchased here.

Name Dave Marek
Role Division director, Auto design, Honda Americas
Age/nationality 56/US
Location California, USA
Education Art Center College of Design

“We have a tremendous optimism at Honda right now. This year we have a few key debuts and we’re also working on the reinvigoration of Acura, what’s it supposed to be, and what can we do with it from a performance aspect. I think overall within the industry it’s like everybody has been waiting to do something. You could blame the Lehman Brothers shock, but it shouldn’t have been an excuse. People are finally comfortable doing something more stylish. Throughout the years some have celebrated design and some haven’t, but styling has always been what people see first, it’s the ten-second rule. Now everybody is realising it, not just designers – because we always thought we were the most important people [smiles] – but everybody now is saying that’s what people are looking at. If you look at Ford and the new Mustang you can see it. Everyone is becoming closer. Premium is coming down and little cars are going upmarket. Everybody is vibrant. I think 2013 for me was ‘go for broke’. Make something cool. 2014 will be when all this stuff starts to be manifested.
The NSX is sitting in our studio and everybody has seen it, so just wait until that comes out. You can’t get a better halo car. You might walk down to the Porsche stand at the Detroit show and look at the 918 which I think is pretty cool, but then I think, ‘we have one of those too’. I’m proud of that. It can’t not affect what we are doing. It would be wasteful just to have it sitting there. The last one was a little bit like that. It was a halo car but the distance was maybe a little too far to the rest of the range.
As well as my job at Honda I teach at Art Center and I watch how the students work. I might say, ‘you should go to GM, you’re a sketch monster, they’d eat you up’. Another guy might be kind of holistic about the market and brand. And I might say to him ‘you should come to us because you’ll be able to do that kind of design’. Everybody has their strengths and I think what the internet and you journalists have helped with, is that now the students can really see what’s happening. It’s easy to encourage students to sketch a lot, that stuff is absolute, but also find out what you like to do. And then you can customise the company to you. There are two sides to it.
We’ve just changed processes at our new studio in downtown Los Angeles to get a lot more ideas and ‘shotgun stuff’ going. It’s working out really well and a flock of people want to work there. With the LA studio, it’s location for sure. It’s already affected the type of stuff we design. It’s less conservative for sure. I think a lot of students now are too safe. They might draw an Audi A8 and it’s perfect but we’ve already had that. I need what you think it should be later or maybe it should be something else. If you do something that’s going to scare people a little bit, and it’s good, then that’s good. Students aren’t pushing it. I’m not saying be crazy, do movie cars or flying cars, but if you can’t stretch when you’re a student, it’s never going to happen.”

Dave's Top Cars of 2013 Concept

1. Cadillac Elmiraj
2. Nissan IDx
3. Renault Twin’Z


1. Porsche 918 Spyder
2. Jaguar F-Type Coupe
3. BMW i3

By Guy Bird