By on April 29, 2020

genesis motors

The man behind the expressive designs rolling out of Hyundai and the newly sporty elegance of the fledgling Genesis brand is leaving the company. As reported by Automotive News, Luc Donckerwolke, who joined the automaker in 2015 after a prestigious career at Volkswagen Group, is stepping down as chief designer.

The automaker cites “personal reasons” for the resignation.

Joining the company’s design studio in 2015 and taking on the role of chief designer in 2018, Donckerwolke guided the shapes of numerous products during the Hyundai brand’s rapid pivot into All Things Crossover. At the same time, he busied himself crafting an image for a new premium brand — Genesis. As the recent G80 and GV80 show, Donckerwolke’s eye for upscale style can’t be denied.


Certainly, the 54-year-old Belgian’s previous gig designing Bentleys and Lamborghinis for VW Group helped in that regard.

“The group’s audacious and progressive attitude has allowed me to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo,” Donkerwolke said in a statement. “I have enjoyed the trust given to me by the group to create a design ‘dream team’ that has defined a DNA for the future of these brands and digitalization of their design processes.”

Stepping up to fill the the void are Lee Sang-yup, vice president and head of the Hyundai Design Center, and Karim Habib, head of the Kia Design Center. The two will henceforth guide design at Hyundai Motor Group’s three automotive brands.

While the automaker said Donckerwolke resigned to spend more time with his family, one assumes he’ll pop up at another automaker before too long.

[Images: Hyundai, Genesis Motors]

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17 Comments on “Hyundai, Genesis Design Boss Hits the Road...”

  • avatar

    “expressive designs rolling out of Hyundai”? They all look derivative to me, usually of vehicles by established luxury brands.

    • 0 avatar

      kpop – absolutely agree, but that is really the minority view on this site! Every time I look at a Hyundai/Kia/Genesis product, all my eye catches are design cues from everyone else. And when Hyundai tries something different, you get oddities like the Veloster. I personally think that H/K/G has one truly attractive product and that is the Stinger.

      I know they have some top tier designers on their payroll so why do I keep seeing other designs grafted onto H/K/G products? It comes across as a discount knockoff.

      • 0 avatar

        You mean it looks like Bentley and Jaguar had a bastard child named Genesis? Yeah, I see that, but I don’t hate the Crossover

        • 0 avatar

          Apart from the fact that Bentley has used the same design for 20 odd years, and Jaguar is indistinguishable from a nice Camry – sure. I think Kia and Hyundai are making some of the nicest looking cars of the class. Mind you, it’s a conservative class with limited “language”, for conservative people who , frankly, if you slapped a Mercedes star on a fridge would be happy enough,which this man helped define and refine prior and during his time for KIA/Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2 brands that have actually been called out by lux automakers for copying were Lexus (by Mercedes for the LS430) and Lincoln (by Bentley for the Continental).

      The original Hyundai Genesis had a BMW-esque greenhouse w/ the “Hofmeister kink” (which was not originated by BMW, btw), but then again, virtually every automaker had one of those, including Honda w/ the Accord.

      And after Honda revised the taillights on the Accord for its F/L, one had to do a double-take to discern it from the Genesis at a 3/4ths rear view.

      Hyundai started doing the hexagonal-shaped grille BEFORE Audi (and numerous other automakers) and they also started doing stretched headlights pulled back towards the A-pillar.

      Now look who’s starting to put a hexagonal shape to their grilles w/ headlights that are more stretched/pulled back? Mercedes.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    All automotive designs – regardless of price point – are derivative these days. In fact, I’ve seen vehicles that copy Hyundai and Kia. That’s what happens in a tight regulatory environment. Designs are restricted and whenever anyone finds something that works within the compliance envelope, every other company jumps on it. The old days of innovation at the top and designs trickling down are long over.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you’re right when it comes to mass-market stuff like sedans or family haulers, but is that anything new?

      Check out pictures of the family sedans from the supposed “golden age” of design – say, 1965 – and tell me those designs aren’t pretty darn derivative.

      • 0 avatar

        If they’re derivative, he’s deriving essentially from himself. He has been in the business for a long time. The rich or wanna be’s – who buy many of this class of car, refer to it as “refined”, not “derivative” – pick your poison. I’ll say this: I can conjure some Kia/Hyundai designs in my head, but not one Audi.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely. I’ve been saying that for years. Most cars are derivative with their styling. Occasionally a manufacturer tries something new. Those either become trend setters or are permanently shamed.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2010 Jaguar XJ was an original design, even if you didn’t like it.

      The interior redesign of modern Porsches since 2010, the new look Mercedes interiors and Volvo interiors are all non-derivative designs.

      Original design is still possible, but it’s been put in a box due to safety regs. Tougher job today than it once was.

      • 0 avatar

        Those tail lights on the XJ are copied from the Hyundai HCD7 concept.

      • 0 avatar

        The profile/greenhouse of the XJ is like a really stretched version of the YF Sonata, which in turn, was a sleeker variant of the C6 A6 (for an actual near facsimile of the A6’s greenhouse, look no further than the Ford Five Hundred/Taurus); the Optima of that era also had a sloping/almost fastback styled roofline.

        Marchionne, himself, stated that Chrysler patterned the body-style of the ill-fated 200 after the YF Sonara – which he, in hindsight, admitted was a mistake as it compromised rear headroom.

        Ford, Chevy and Honda followed w/ the Fusion, Impala and Accord also getting sloping rooflines.

  • avatar

    I don’t find the current Genesis designs very exciting. They seem very “conservative Korean businessman” to me.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I like the Hyundai and Kia designs. Try in today’s regulatory market to make a revolutionary design with all the safety regulations. At least the designs don’t look like a brick (pickups) or a total oval. Better to copy a Bentley than an Aztec.

  • avatar

    Some of you are a bit mistaken that this is all about safety regs. The reason you see amazing concept cars that don’t end up in production has a lot to do with cost. Innovative designs can cost a lot more to manufacture and assemble. The question for the manufacturer is will people pay $1800 more for an innovate design? Or if we spend more on design but have to use cheaper interior materials and an 8″ screen rather than an 10″ screen, will consumers still buy? The answer in most cases is no.

    The designs you see are like they are because that’s about as well as they can do with today’s stamping and assembly technology.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai developed a process of stamping more complicated body panels w/o incurring a cost that would be prohibitive.

      That’s why w/ the “fluidic sculpture” era of Hyundai design, many Hyundai models had “organic” body-lines (never really liked it, much preferred Kia’s cleaner aesthetics).

      We can see that really being put into effect w/ the varying/multiple side character lines on the new Elantra which has been so polarizing.

      In the past, something like that would never have been attempted for a mainstream compact.

  • avatar

    I have high enough IQ, even by Canadian standards, to recognize kitsch when I see one.

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