Gwendolyn Hatten Butler

Vice Chairwoman and Chief Marketing Officer, Capri Investment Group

gwen-butler-editGwendolyn Hatten Butler is vice chairwoman and chief marketing officer for Capri Investment Group and oversees global investor relations. With over 35 years of experience, Butler has been involved in a broad range of debt and structured finance activities. Since joining Capri, Butler has worked on real estate equity, structured finance and mezzanine transactions as a member of the firm’s Investment Committee, and has raised capital to support the firm’s investment activities. She previously served as executive director at UBS Global Asset Management.

Butler earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

Radical Change

Putting auto design on autopilot

By Paul Eisenstein

Page 18

toyota concept car-croppedIn the 1973 film, “Sleeper,” Woody Allen wakes up after being frozen following a botched operation. To escape the inept police state trying to terminate him, he steals a car that looks like a bubble, with frosted windows and no steering wheel. He simply tells it where to go.

paul eisenstein headshot

TheDetroitBureau.com Publisher Paul A. Eisenstein discusses the increasing influence of technology on automotive design.

The comedy was supposed to take place in the 22nd Century but, at least when it comes to the car, it could become reality in the very near future. A Mercedes-Benz concept vehicle, the F 015, can black out its windows, use voice commands to safely drive itself to a destination, and passengers can swivel their seats to turn the big sedan into a mobile living room.

The auto industry is in the midst of some of the most radical technological changes in its history. The first autonomous vehicles are likely to be on the road by the end of the decade, and self-driving cars, trucks and crossovers could be the norm, rather than the exception, by the 2030s, according to some forecasts.  By then, the gasoline engine could become a rarity, as well, with most cars powered by batteries or by hydrogen fuel cells. Now add new features designed to keep passengers, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists, safe.

While many of these technological advances will be hidden out of sight, they’re likely to have a significant impact, nonetheless on the design of tomorrow’s vehicles — both inside and out.

paul eisenstein pulled quote shortWhat happens when drivers become passengers, as autonomous vehicles take over the road? That’s where the Mercedes F 015 and more recent Vision Tokyo concepts come in. Both introduced on the auto show circuit this past year, they’re shaped a bit like bars of soap, designs intended to provide plenty of room for passengers to move around and stretch out. The German maker describes the five-seat Vision Tokyo as a “connected lounge,” offering “a hip living space – a chill-out zone in the midst of megacity traffic mayhem.”

The Volvo Concept 26, introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, is meant to demonstrate “how luxury autonomous cars will integrate into daily life.” This prototype puts the emphasis on the interior, with features such as a tablet computer built into the center console, fold-away tray tables for driver and passengers, and a 25-inch color monitor that pops out of the passenger-side dashboard.

Tomorrow’s cars will need to become far more efficient to meet increasingly stringent emissions and fuel-economy standards. Among other things, we’ll see even more focus on aerodynamic design. Active shutters, designed to seal off a car’s grille, have become increasingly commonplace, and we can expect to see more active components, such as movable rear wings. Another recent Mercedes concept vehicle took things the next step with body panels that could stretch the length of the vehicle almost a foot to improve airflow.

But with the advent of battery and fuel-cell technology, designers could get significantly more freedom, experts like General Motors’ global styling chief Ed Welburn suggest. They’ll allow engineers to relocate powertrains beneath the floorboards, or mount motors in a vehicle’s wheels – freeing up space that used to be taken up by the engine compartment. The hydrogen-powered Toyota FCV+ is one example, its passenger compartment stretching almost to the very front bumper.

Safety systems have already had a significant impact on vehicle design as makers strive to incorporate crumple zones to absorb the impact forces of a crash. New pedestrian protection rules have meant slightly higher hoods with crush space underneath. One of the oddest concept vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show last November was Flesby. If its sensors detected the chance of hitting a pedestrian or bike, the outside panels would inflate like a rolling Michelin Man.

That’s not so far-fetched. In Europe, Citroen already offers a model called the Cactus, with soft panels on the outside of its doors to minimize parking lot dings and dents.

Don’t expect conventional designs to vanish entirely, but with all the technological changes sweeping through the auto industry, many of the vehicles we’ll see in the not-too-distant future are going to look like they’ve rolled off the set of a science-fiction flick.

Paul Eisenstein is the publisher of The Detroit Bureau

Brian Calley

Lt. Governor, State of Michigan

Brian Calley-edit

Follow or tweet @briancalley

Brian Calley is the lieutenant governor for the state of Michigan. In partnership with Gov. Snyder, Calley continues to play an integral role in Michigan’s comeback. He is responsible for helping guiding two historic tax reforms through the Legislature that led to increased private sector job growth. Additionally, his efforts to eliminate outdated regulations have led to citizen and business-friendly state government services.

Calley is nationally recognized for his leadership on the Michigan Mental Health and Wellness Commission, which developed strategies to help Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens. He was awarded the “Executive Champion Award” from Autism Speaks and was named one of the U.S. Jaycees’ “10 Outstanding Young Americans.” He earned degrees from Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University and Harvard University.

Carolyn Cassin

President and CEO, Michigan Women’s Foundation

Carolyn CassinCarolyn Cassin is a highly-regarded organizational development and operations expert, accomplished health care entrepreneur, and national expert in end of life care. Over her 30-year career, Cassin has started and grown two companies, and helped transform and turn around three more. Her professional successes include turning around a failing hospice organization in Southeast Michigan and building it into the nation’s largest and one of the best run hospices in the country.

She is also president and CEO of the Michigan Women’s Foundation, Michigan’s only public statewide Foundation dedicated to helping women and girls realize their dreams of economic self-sufficiency and social equality. Under her leadership, the Foundation developed a microloan fund for women-owned and managed businesses in the state.

Cassin and a group of 30 Michigan women founded BELLE Michigan. The state’s first female venture fund was created to invest in women-owned companies and other underserved communities in the United States. The Fund has made six investments and is transforming the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women across Michigan.

Innovations in Design

Lear Corp.’s new high-tech design studio in Capitol Park maximizes creativity

By Melissa Anders

Page 24

lear corp downtown building

This 128-year-old building in Detroit’s Capitol Park was recently purchased by Lear Corp., which will use the space as an innovation and design center.

Lear Corp. is teaming up with local college students to develop innovations for the next-generation automotive seating and electrical systems.

The Southfield-based auto supplier plans to open an innovation and design center in the historic 119 State Street building in Detroit’s Capitol Park neighborhood. Lear purchased the 128-year old former cigar factory from Bedrock Real Estate Services. Renovation work on the six-floor, 35,000-square-foot building should be complete by midyear.

“We plan to leverage the rapidly developing infrastructure in the Central Business District, as well as the concentration of arts, science and technology assets in the Capitol Park area to take our seating and electrical businesses to the next level,” Lear President and CEO Matt Simoncini said in a statement.

Lear is a Fortune 500 corporation with about 135,000 employees in 35 countries. Its products are used on more than 300 vehicle nameplates from all major automakers. The company plans to tap into the local talent base by collaborating with students from the College for Creative Studies to come up with new designs and concepts for vehicle seating, interiors and certain non-automotive applications. Lear employees will work with Wayne State University engineering students on software applications and solutions related to vehicle connectivity. The company is still working out details, but students would be paid as part of a work-study program, according to Lear Senior Vice President Mel Stephens.

“It’s taking existing engineers and product development people and putting them in an environment where they can dedicate themselves to working on new innovations as opposed to the day-to-day of fulfilling what we’re doing on our products that are in the market today,” Stephens said. “It’s creating a space where they can have maximum creativity and minimum disruption in an area that’s rich for fostering this kind of innovation. We’re in close proximity to these two universities, which have excellent capabilities in both of these areas.”

mel stephens pull quoteLear is already an industry leader on electrical distribution systems within vehicles, and it hopes to build on that expertise to develop connected vehicle technology. Students and staff at the design center will work on developing ways for vehicles to communicate with other vehicles and with outside infrastructure.

“What is emerging is now the desire to communicate outside the vehicle, so not connecting a vehicle with wire, but with wireless signals to cellular networks or to other grids using wireless technology,” Stephens said.

The number of Lear employees on site will vary by project, but it has a capacity of about 150, according to Stephens. Some full-time staff will be dedicated to working on new projects at the center, while others may move back and forth between the site and headquarters.

The building will also house a non-automotive new business incubator, a think tank, a creative design studio, an art gallery, Lear executive satellite offices, conference and meeting space and a rooftop garden. Further details are forthcoming on these projects, Stephens said.

“The sale of 119 State Street provides Lear with a prime location to launch this cool, unique initiative where brilliant ideas will be developed, nurtured and brought to life,” Dan Gilbert, founding partner of Bedrock Real Estate Services, said in a news release.

Melissa Anders is a Chicago freelance writer.

Craig D’Agostini

Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Comcast

Craig D'Agostini-editCraig D’Agostini is vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Comcast and is responsible for managing the company’s relationships with policymakers, community organizations and economic development officials. Additionally, D’Agostini leads Comcast’s community affairs activities, including Comcast Cares Day and its United Way fundraising campaign.

He previously served as senior director of government affairs for Comcast. Prior to that, he held similar positions with Time Warner Cable in the Houston area. D’Agostini earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications with a minor in psychology from Indiana University, as well as a juris doctorate degree from New York Law School.

The Craft of Making

College for Creative Studies at the Heart of Detroit’s Design Culture

By James Martinez

Page 10

rick rogers headshotLocated in midtown Detroit, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) is a relatively small school that makes a big impact on the design world. CCS strives to provide students with the tools needed for successful careers in the dynamic and growing creative industries. The college is a major supplier of talent to numerous industries, such as transportation, film and animation, advertising and communications, consumer electronics, athletic apparel, and many more.

The Detroiter sat down with CCS President Rick Rogers to talk all things design.

(Editor’s note: This interview was edited for length and clarity).

Why is Detroit such a great place for design?

Because of its history. It’s not just its automotive history, but its whole history of making things, and manufacturing and developing products going back to iron stoves and bicycles and railroad cars. It’s so rich in that history. Creativity and making are deeply intertwined. Today, the things we make aren’t only physical. As a society, we make a lot of different kinds of things. The making of new things, whether they are physical or virtual, is what creativity is.

What are some misconceptions about design today?

Most people don’t understand that artists figure very prominently in the development of automobiles. We call them designers, but they are really artists with a lot of technical background. But most art forms require some sort of technical background. So whether it is automobiles, appliances, shoes, athletic equipment or consumer electronics, it all requires creativity and artists to give products their identity and look and feel, and now more importantly, kind of determining the way the consumer interacts with them. That all comes out of artistic ability and training.

With the amount of flux and change going on in today’s vehicles, how is the convergence of technology and automotive impacting design?

I think it works both ways. I think design is impacting the way cars are looking and technology is impacting the way design has to do its job. There are features that now have to be incorporated into vehicles that never had to before. If there are going to be autonomous vehicles, that’s going to completely change the vocabulary of the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Until we get to that point there is still going to be huge changes because of the amount of digital technology that is being integrated into vehicles. There’s the challenge of figuring out how the driver interacts with those technologies, whether it is touch screens or virtual displays.

How is that impacting how you’re preparing students?

The opportunity and need for design is greater than ever. There’s interaction design that’s becoming one of the critical components of the development of interiors. People may typically think of the design of the interior (of automobiles) as the physical interior components and that’s still important. But there’s all those controls, how you operate the car, that’s what interaction is and designers now have to work on that very thoughtfully and intensively. We actually created a new MFA program in interaction design because there’s a demand for those kinds of designers that is huge, and yet the availability of them is very low. Schools like CCS are having to respond to those needs.

There’s such a rapid pace of change in technology and consumer demands. How is that impacting how CCS works with automakers?

One of the main ways we work with automakers is through sponsored research projects. The automakers will propose a design problem that they want students to work on. These projects are usually very future oriented and either looking at markets or demographic segments or kinds of technology. The companies don’t come to work with us to get an answer to an immediate problem. They are very capable of doing that. They come to us to think about the longer term strategic needs. That’s how we understand from them what their concerns and priorities for the future are, and what their expectations for the kinds of people that will graduate from the college that they will hire.

A congratulations is in order. LinkedIn recently named CCS the No. 3 design school in the nation.

(LinkedIn) came up with some algorithm or set of criteria for the best set of companies to work for. On the basis of the companies the graduates worked for, they ranked the schools and we came up number three in the country because our graduates work for really great companies. We have a 94 percent job placement rate last year for our graduates. We found the LinkedIn rating system to be a real validation of the claims we make for the college. This is a professional college, everybody here is an artist, but every one of our students is planning to use their artistic skills in gainful employment or in productive work. Some will be freelancers or soloists, like painters or sculptors, but the vast majority will go to work for companies.

How do you think the perception of Detroit is now?

We have always been able to attract people from elsewhere, but to be candid, it’s always been difficult. Some people in the past would not consider coming to Detroit. We’re not having that problem anymore. Detroit has become this huge draw for prospective faculty. … The perception of Detroit has completely changed in the circles that CCS is part of. People want to come here. There are creative people and creative businesses from other parts of the country and Europe who are looking for office space here because there is this kind of creative energy that people don’t find in a lot of other places. It’s just a wonderful statement about the change that’s happening in Detroit.

 James Martinez is the editor of the Detroiter.

An Ode to Great Design

By Sandy Baruah

Page 4

While I never studied design – and my third-grade art work posted on the refrigerator clearly demonstrated my lack of talent – I am a big fan of great design. From Henry Moore sculptures to Daniel Libeskind architecture to the everyday paperclip, I have long been moved by design’s ability to turn something of necessity to something of desire. Fusing an interest in design with a lifelong interest in cars results in someone who, on an amateur basis, has spent an inordinate amount of time examining automotive design.

Automotive design is a funny thing. Often, the most popular and respected vehicles on the road would never make a “most beautiful” list. The Toyota Camry with its perennial No. 1 ranking and legions of loyal followers must be beautiful to its owners – but I’m sure it’s not destined for display at the New York Museum of Modern art.

Designing a car today is also much more difficult today than in days past. The students going through the College of Creative Studies today have to learn to design around constraints such as pedestrian safety (front end shape and height), passenger safety (safety cells), crash protection (energy absorbing bumpers), fuel efficiency (aerodynamic drag) and countless others. None of these requirements impeded Sir William Lyon and Malcolm Sayer when they produced the stunning 1961 Jaguar E-Type, or played a role in the design of the 1934 Chrysler Airflow.

These very design constraints contribute to the outstanding efficiency, safety, value, and balance found in most new cars today. But despite these challenges and the need for most vehicles to take on the same general shape, there are great examples on the road today of design excellence – and unlike bygone eras, great design is not regulated to just the fantasy sports cars. Some examples:

Ford Fusion. As sophisticated as a sedan can look – and still seat five people. All at a family friendly price point. The family driveway never looked so fashionable. The Fusion led the way for today’s “everyday car” as a fashion statement.

The New Cadillacs. While there is a good deal of debate around Cadillac’s “Art and Science” design language, there is no doubt that Cadillacs look like nothing else on the road.

Kia-Hyundai. Many of us “car guys” laughed when Kia and Hyundai entered the market in the 1980s. But today, their value and design, led by former Ford and Volvo designer Peter Schreyer, are among the best.

My favorite examples of automotive design combine the following: links that tie today’s vehicle to its history, lines that emphasize length as opposed to height, and timelessness – something that will look good 20 years from now. My favorites on the road today:

Boxy can be beautiful. There is a purity in a well designed box. The Ford Flex and Land Rover LR4 look like the box they came in, but have a wonderful presence – with lines that exude crispness and formality. This well executed box ethos is why the original 1976 Cadillac Seville and 1960’s Lincoln Continental look good today.

Heritage matters. Looking at a Jaguar today still evokes the breathtaking lines of the E-Type and original XJ sedan. How designer Ian Callum has created such stunning beauty while honoring heritage is masterful.

All-time favorites. The two most beautiful cars in my book are the Jaguar E-Type (which Enzo Ferrari called “the most beautiful car in the world”) and the William Clay Ford’s classic 1956 Continental Mark II – both of which have been displayed in the New York Museum of Modern Art and both way ahead of their time.

Bob Lutz recently opined on the importance of good automotive design, commenting, “If I were running a major car company, I would poach [Peter Schreyer] at whatever cost.” As a consumer who loves automotive design, I agree with Bob Lutz.

Enjoy the 2016 North American International Auto Show. This is really the new golden age of the automobile and I am proud that Michigan remains the epicenter of this dynamic and critical industry.

Sandy Baruah is the president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Devita Davison

Marketing and Communications Director, FoodLab Detroit

Devita Davison-editDevita Davison is the marketing and communications director at FoodLab Detroit, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the development, growth and cooperation of locally owned socially and environmentally responsible food enterprises. In this role, she manages communications projects and provides leadership in developing and implementing internal and external communication efforts, including public affairs, media relations and electronic media, to strengthen and support the organization’s mission. Davison writes on local food systems and has been quoted in the media including: Civil Eats, PolicyLink, The Detroit News and Urban Innovation Exchange. Davison earned her Bachelor of Science degree in social science from Michigan State University.

Joe DeBose

Co-founder, Boots on the Ground

Joe Debose-editFollow or tweet @DetroitBOG

Joe Debose is co-founder, chief operating officer and director of veteran services for Boots on the Ground LLC. A former U.S. Marine Corps. infantryman, Debose was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and received both the Bronze Star and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for valor in combat. While in the military, Debose supervised the conduct and operation of the Water Survival Program for the Marine Forces Pacific Command (MARFORPAC). In this role, he taught and qualified over 3,000 Marines in various levels of water survival. He also served as a senior combat advisor for the Afghan National Army’s base in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

As a dually enrolled student at Oakland University and Oakland Community College, Debose is currently working toward earning his bachelor’s degree in economics. In addition, he plans to attend graduate school to study neuroscience with the goal of expanding on his research in traditional and alternative drug-free therapies and treatments for posttraumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injuries, and pain management.