The Renault Design Story
A Century of Design
Through the eveolution and growth of the company, Renault's design department has managed to establish its credibility and has become the essential link in the vehicle development chain which, at Renault, is considered inextricably linked to quality.
The "pre-design" period
1898: Efficiency first: The first Renault vehicles were not much more than a chassis mounted on wheels. Demanding customers hired renowned independent coachbuilders to "decorate" their vehicles.
1905: The first "complete" vehicles appear: 250 taxis, ordered by a Paris taxi company. They would become known as the "taxis de la Marne", and had a distinctive silhouette.
At the time, Renault offered both bodywork by well-known luxury coachbuilders, fitted outside the company and "factory" bodywork, designed at the Billancourt engineering centre. The work was performed by industrial designers with excellent drawing skills.
1961: Renault Styling is born, with the help of independent designer Philippe Charbonneau, in charge of designing the R8. "Renault Style" became a separate department within the Bodywork Department while remaining answerable to the head of Engineering.
R8 & Fuego
1975: Reorganization: Renault Styling is reorganized into three sub-departments - Exterior, Interior (with a Colour & Trim specialist) and Advanced Design - and increases its outsourcing activity.
This period sees the arrival of the Fuego (1980) and the Alpine V6 (1981) followed by the R11 (1984), R25 (1984) and R19 (1989).
Creation of the Industrial Design Department (DDI)
In January 1988, the Industrial Design Department took over from "Renault Styling", with a radical change in philosophy and practices. A matrix management system was set up, cutting-edge technologies brought to the fore, and the workforce was doubled under the guidance of Patrick le Quément.
At this point, the design department becomes a major force within Renault, on the same level as Engineering and Product Planning, and begins to be involved in the development of product specifications and production.
1995: Quality and Design merge. Louis Schweitzer appoints Patrick le Quément as head of Quality as well as Design, and invites him to sit on Renault's Management Committee. It's the first time in automotive history that a head of Design is also in charge of Quality and directly answerable to the company's Chairman.
In March, 1997, the DDI, implanted at the Technocentre since 1996, and now with all of its interior and exterior design teams grouped together on a single site, undergoes a thorough restructuring.
It's organization from then on is based on product development in two major departments: Automobile design and LCV, Truck & Bus design. A cross-functional department, Concept cars & Advanced Design, also comes into being, and works directly under the Senior Vice President of Corporate Design.
In December 1998, the DDI receives ISO 9001 certification (EAQF), the crowning achievement of three years of constant effort.
1999: a design centre headed by the DDI opens in Barcelona.
2003: the Renault Samsung Motors "Creative Center" is attached to the DDI and becomes the Renault group's third design centre.
2007: Renault upgrades its observational unit in Mumbai, India to Renault Design India and increases the workforce and design responsibilities.
Renault, like all large automotive manufacturers, take design seriously. Created in January 1988, Renault's Industrial Design Department employs 350 people as of 2004. Its tasks range from the creation of new vehicle specifications through to the actual manufacturing process.
The Industrial Design Department (DDI) employs 350 people, including 80 designers, 20 managers, 120 mock-up artists.
The team is a young one - the average age is 32 - and entirely international, with over 20 nationalities represented.
The DDI's main location is the Technocentre in Guyancourt, where it takes up 27,000 of the 350,000 m2 of the Technocentre with its 8 design studios, 4 mock-up workshops, 1 painting workshop, 1 milling workshop, 1 metrology centre, 1 full-scale digital project review room.
The Technocentre was specially designed to bring together all the players working on vehicle development. It is considered important that designers work together and collaborate closely with the various other development teams (Engineering and Product Planning in particular).
In order to maintain a high level of creativity within its design team and to ensure design relevance in the company's main markets, it has opened several 'satellite design centres' surrounded by innovative sources of inspiration.
In Europe, in cities considered to be among the most dynamic creative capitals:
- Barcelona: Renault Design Barcelona (established in 1999),
- Paris proper: Renault Design Paris
(established in 2000, as an extension of Guyancourt).
In Asia, the Renault Samsung Motors "Creative Center", which was placed directly under DDI authority in 2003, intends to become Renault's Asian design hub. In 2007, the Renault Design India department opened in Mumbai.