Groupe Renault has been a leader in the automotive world for some time and now we meet the man behind the scenes. François Farion is Groupe Renault’s Design Director responsible for colours and materials. When you hear “Star Black”, “Ultra Violet” and “Chili Orange”, what thought comes to mind first? Your answer should be François Farion.
We take a closer look at the man responsible for much of the design creativity and his incredible passion for his job which consists of imaging, research, colour creation and material selection for the exterior and interior of Renault vehicles.
François Farion’s Earlier Days
François Farion decided on his career path during a design internship after graduating from a major business school. He didn’t focus on automotive design at first as he explored design from all angles. This included graphic design, like logos and packaging, to designing office furniture. It wasn’t long before he returned to his true passion that is automotive design.
Before joining Groupe Renault in early 2018 as Design Director, Colours and Materials, François worked at PSA and Nissan in the United States and Japan. Having that sort of experience is invaluable and today he manages his own team of 15 people while also overseeing teams from around the world.
The Evolution Of Renault’s Designs
Farion’s goal is to take the Renault design to the next level. Renault has become an increasingly popular brand as a company that sells affordable cars with models relative to their market position.
When Dacia arrived in the early 2000s, their fast growth rate required Renault to reposition themselves with a more upmarket range. Their mindset also changed due to the introduction of electrification and autonomous driving. This all started with the exterior design which Laurens van den Acker successfully renewed across the board. Additionally, there has also been a revolutionary change in the quality and materials used on Renault cars.
Interior design, in itself, is experiencing transformation in terms of technologies and materials. Renault is currently working on these aspects where the results will be clearly on display with the New 2019 Renault Clio. In terms of technology, Renault is working on several elements including an advanced interface between users, new materials, screen integration, and interior lighting. Renault is looking for materials to showcase the design while providing a more comfortable interior. Since people are spending more time in their cars, they want an interior design more like a home interior than a car.
Inspiration For Renault’s New Designs
While most designers will say that everything is a source of inspiration, it’s a different story for Farion. He stated that “I have a range of interests that I pursue in parallel, including photography, cars, and motorbikes. I like cycling and I’m also very into audio and hi-fi, the uses of which have changed enormously with connected speakers. Following the latest developments in all these sectors influences my creative process and inspires me, for example, to create new fabrics and new trims that interact with technology.”
For Thierry Bolloré, Deputy CEO of Groupe Renault or the program director, a successful design means that it must touch as many people as possible, sell well and be profitable for the group. Others might see design as creating something unique and unexpected which Renault customers will remember years from now. Some examples include the “Honey Yellow” colour on the New Renault Scénic and the “Atacama Orange” for the New Renault Duster. These colours have generated enormous interest and unexpected results.
François believes that Renault has succeeded in introducing colours that bring the automotive sector to life. Most of these have been dominated by greys, blacks, and whites and for him, this is a prime example of successful design. It touches the public while also renewing the range and portrays an innovative and lively image for Renault using the right colours and materials.
Current Trends In Colour And Materials
While there are several emerging trends, two-tone colours and warmer metals are the standouts. It is true that two-tone colours went out of fashion around 1950 but Mini revived it with their black or white roofs during the early 2000s which led to the success of the Renault Captur.
Warmer metals are also featuring as everything thus far has either been steel, black or aluminum. In the world of motorcycling, parts are often bronze or titanium, especially in motorsport. Copper, brass, and chrome have also entered the fray becoming the softer side in terms of reflection and touch. As seen in many modern cars, these trims are used on the exterior, interior and logos applied to the likes of the Renault EZ Ultimo.
Developing a new design involves a number of steps and it takes time, usually between two and three years. Designing the exterior and interior is slightly different taking up to 18 months to develop a colour. Wheel rim specifications are challenging and require specific corrosion and abrasion tests. The same applies to materials near glazed surfaces exposed to extreme heat. The design team must be ready six months before the vehicle launch in order to carry out tests at the plant.
According to François Farion, “We have to communicate our inspiration. We make trend boards and research images and references to obtain approvals on our colours from product development and marketing”.Keep reading our blogs or follow us on Facebook for more up-to-date information on all the latest developments in the motoring world.