Bertrand Rapatel is current Interior design director of Peugeot.
If you think design directors actually invent and design stuffs, you obviously have no idea the inner workings of a big cooperate automotive design teams and organizations. 95 percent of Design director’s job is being stuck in meeting rooms doing political and PR works.
Besides, Bertrand Rapatel became design director of interior years after Peugeot i-cockpit was developed. However, he and his team did Amazing jobs adapting the i-cockpit concept into the current Peugeot production cars!
I am used to this!
When I proposed the idea back in 2007, just about Everybody were against it.
I can tell you that No other designers supported the idea. None at all!!
Once the concept became successful, Others claimed that they did it. -Especially those who tried to KILL IT. Some of them even got top jobs at other companies claiming that it was his or her work.
This is a very typical pattern in an Automotive industry.
I do bother about that very much. At least, this was one of the reasons I left the design branch within the industry. A strange place full of narcissistic psychopaths living in a bubble of absolutism and social Darwinism. I’ve often wondered how such a system ultimately produces cars. But I think the carrot and stick principle works pretty well in reality. Anyway, great work!
Top jobs were offered to me as well, -A few times. But I am just not a type who can deal with 8 hours of meeting marathons per day and being politically correct. I became a designer to design and to create. -Not to push papers.
So what’s your story?
Yeah, that is indeed interesting to hear that It’s basically all the same… Within the design branch I have worked for Volkswagen, Audi, Bugatti and a couple of other brands. Designing and creating whole component groups, up until production, for cars sold a million times. I specialized on pattern creation and automation. So on top of that I was one of the few designers around with programming skills to create the difficult parts such as grilles, speakers and other parts. So next to my duty of proposing designs, I was also programming and modelling. A lot of this involved creating the tools to reach class-A standards. And by class-A I really mean the production ready surface models, with all this bullshit of having single span corner blends for a 0.5 mm radius.
Really I’m not having issues with people doing that 100 % Management job and I do understand this is the only way to really earn the big money. But they really overestimate their role and underestimate the skills of the people doing the actual work. And I do have a problem with the fact that these guys claiming they have created anything at all. It’s absurd, they ask you to design something, then they either tell you that they like it or not. And if it not, they tell you should start again or change something totally out of context. If you ask for a concrete requirement, some guys tell you, that you should know and propose, or they give you sketches of a 6-year-old children could have done, 2 months later, after 30 ping-pong meetings. And to compensate that lack of expertise, some of them talk to you in a master-slave manner. It’s not that everybody is like this, but you really just need 2 or 3 of these clowns, and the blood pressure rises to positive infinity.
Some years ago, I have switched to real software development, and at least the upper management has a technical background, which values the knowledge and skill set required to get the job done. And most importantly, they don’t put their names under the work of others, especially within the public. But I guess this is a design thing…
But maybe it’s just me. Maybe I was never a true designer. Anyway… sorry for my sarcastic and sort of negative undertone. In the end, I was always involved in exciting and fun projects. It’s just that I don’t like these pseudo-elite attitudes, and it’s unfortunate that there is lack of career opportunities for specialists. I was on the same cross-road as you were.
Wow, All that sound Sooo familiar… So you do know the inner workings of Big cooperation. -Rather well!
I have actually started my career as design manager/director straight out of the school (in a very well funded start-up company). But it took me less than two weeks to realize that one should not take responsibility with-out the experience. So I quit the job which surprised many people including my employer.
I could never understand why so many designers are dying to become paper pushers. Don’t they know that when you go up the ladder, it doesn’t mean there is no one on top of them?
It is true that the chance of working for an idiot boss is all too high and it can make designer’s life unnecessarily difficult, not to mention, one won’t get the credit he or she deserves. And believe me, I have gone through a few of those during my 29 year long career. But also, I was lucky enough to work with great directors and managers. I have been working with Peugeot and PSA for over 21 years and over all, the directors and managers I have worked for has been really rather good, so I can not really complain.
I have also worked as hands-on project manager on many projects but I have always found that managing designers with a Huge yet fragile ego is more of a challenge than solving design problems. I have always felt that I am baby-sitting designers -which I am not very good at.
Anyways, at least at work, internally, people recognizes my contribution to the company and that is good enough for me. I would never trade my stress-less job with a higher paying, stress-full positions.
And don’t forget that and idiot becomes a boss because his boss in an Bigger Idiot. - Best avoid going up that ladder!