Goran Ozbolt is a Croatia born London based automotive designer currently in charge of design aesthetics at McLaren Automotive as an acting design director. © Jay Kim Salinger
“When you have a strong story to tell you will always find people who want to listen.”
How did you become an automotive designer and join McLaren?
(Goran Ozbolt) I think becoming an automotive designer is every kid’s dream, something you want to achieve as a kid. You start doodling a car as a kid, small doodles become bigger doodles, even more bigger doodles. I ended up studying at Royal College of Arts in London and went to a couple of other companies before finally joining McLaren as a Chief Designer and recently became an Acting Design Director.
How has living in London affected your creative process?
(GO) I live in central London and London for me is a massive source of inspiration. For diversity, for amounts of inputs and variants and wherever you go you will always find some place you aren’t familiar with. And for me as a designer that’s exactly what I need. Learning new things, finding new points of views and trying to bring something new to the table everyday. The more it triggers innovation, the better I think I can come up with the ideas and lead the team into a new direction.
What is your current favourite McLaren model and why?
(GO) Elva showcases two things. One, it is super fluid in design yet quite sharp in some aspects. And it was a perfect opportunity for us to play and test with carbon fibre. For example from side to side it is all in a single piece. Entire front part of the car is just one component which leads to quite unique aesthetics. And the exterior flows into the interior, it really grabs your attention.
Please explain the new hybrid model Artura, Is Artura the first electrified model from McLaren?
(GO) It’s not the first electrified model but it’s the first electrified V6 with the new powertrain proposition. The first car mentioned was McLaren P1, with Artura we made into an everyday supercar.
“We consider Artura to be very much pure McLaren.”
What are the most exciting both technological and design standpoints of this model?
(GO) With Artura it was really a cool big challenge. In the beginning it really was that you’re looking for purity, you’re looking for a hybrid supercar, which in itself is quite a novel proposition. And you’re basically looking to create a little brother for the McLaren P1, which set quite the benchmark at its time being. P1 came out as a V8 hybrid when the only other hybrid around was a Prius. P1 established an electrified powertrain as a high performance vehicle. Artura does the same as our youngest in our sort of entry product. But it brings all of these very pure driving experiences and pleasures along with it, whilst having the big benefits of an electrified V6 powertrain. For the design. The cool thing for us in the studio, it was really the challenge, I guess. We consider Artura to be very much pure McLaren. Very condensed to its core; what is the brand about? How do you set a starting point for a McLaren enthusiast? It’s pure, it’s fantastic, it’s dynamic, it’s lightweight, and at the same time, proportionally quite excellent.
“I think the most important thing is that you understand, explore and create.”
What is the creative process like designing a new vehicle?
(GO) I think the most important thing is that you understand, explore and create. In the beginning of the project we would understand what the Artura‘s characters will be about and what kind of personality we would want to give it to her. Once we have a good idea of that we explore different design themes in the bigger selections initially and start to filter down. I think with Artura in particular it was important to enable a very high-tech powertrain but at the same time it doesn’t shout too much.
McLaren has been competing in electric off-road racing Extreme E, and it will be joining Formula E starting from next season. Why is electrification so important?
(GO) Electrification is present everywhere. There is a clear technical benefit for the performance of the car. There’s an environmental benefit without question. And for us it is a very good opportunity for McLaren to join Formula E. What will end up happening would be very similar to what we learnt working with the Formula 1 team. You start to build up knowledge in the field and you start to exchange between the automotive team and the racing team. You have an engineer who works for 5 years in racing and then joins automotive to inform hybrid power systems. So that knowledge and that level of exchange ultimately will improve the product better and for us in particular. I’m really looking forward to the time where electric powertrains are a lot lighter and I think Formula E is quite a key to achieve those things. Besides, change is always exciting. You should always be at the forefront of changes especially if you are in a company that lives on innovation as Mclaren is.