Bringing a Global Eye to Buick Design

Global Vision Inspires Global Reach and Appeal for Buick Designs

Takahiko ‘Taka’ Suginoshita is the senior creative designer in exteriors for the Buick brand.
Takahiko believes it is important that “People from different backgrounds bring different traditions and aesthetic to their work in the studio.”
Buick Avenir concept vehicles designed by Takahiko’s team.
General Motors is headquartered in Detroit, but customers may not realize its vehicles convey design influence from around the globe.

Takahiko ‘Taka’ Suginoshita is the senior creative designer in exteriors for the Buick brand. Born in Indonesia and raised in Japan, Suginoshita attended Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS) to access major U.S. automakers and opportunities to work on their school-sponsored projects. After interning with multiple companies in Paris, he joined GM Design in summer 2005.

What kind of international influence can be seen in Buick and other GM design today? We spent a few minutes with Suginoshita to find out what influences his designs, his thoughts on diversity in the automotive industry and how design affects the global market.

1. Why did you pursue a career in automotive design?

I like fine art. When I was 12, I was really into art and I saw a car design sketch from a magazine and it was really mind blowing. I wanted to be able to draw like the picture in magazine. So that was the beginning for me and over time, that passion kept growing and it eventually led me to a career in design.

2. Why do you think it is important –what are the benefits – for GM to have people of diverse backgrounds designing cars, trucks and crossovers?

As designers, our work begins with an in-depth understanding of our customers on a global scale. People from different backgrounds bring different traditions and aesthetic to their work in the studio. Nowadays, car design is going global and you see more and more the benefit of people from different cultures collaborating in the studio. At Buick, we have designers from India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia – basically from all over the world. Diversity brings unique points of view to the table. The Avenir concept that was revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit show is a great example of incorporating ideas from different cultures coming together in one design.

3. What are some of the ways your heritage and international background has had a positive influence on your design aesthetic and work in the GM Design studios?

I understand American heritage from international eye, which helps me in my work to maintain the core of the heritage as well as to design something fresh. In my opinion, there is a lot of opportunity to expand the reach and appeal of GM’s brands in international markets by creating vehicles that stand out for their American design aesthetics.

4. Can you give us an example of how your background and experiences – or someone on your design team – influenced one of the production vehicle programs you worked on?

I’m currently working in the Buick studio. Our team is rediscovering the rich Buick heritage and the essence of beautiful, sculptural design for the future portfolio in a very modern and inspiring way. The Avenir concept is a showcase for the opportunities and thinking behind the future of the brand and portfolio.

5. Vehicle design is both a collaborative and competitive process on a global scale. What are some of the ways collaboration leads to great design? What are the ways competition leads to great design?

Collaboration between different views from GM global design studio leads to great design. There is competition on theming globally in GM Design. It’s very interesting to see different approaches from different studios on the other side of the world. We influence each other through ‘theming’ sketch competitions, and collaborate to create one product that is unmistakably Buick in its brand design language.

6. Are there differences in the vehicle design aesthetic for the North American market vs. global markets?

Yes, there are. In my opinion, those differences are also strengths when you consider global market customers are not looking for the same design they see every day in their own market. We need to stand out from our competitors by maintaining a unique, American heritage. As a designer, that is something I think about a lot: How do we maintain Buick's traditional design core and expand on it for the global market?