An Interview with Ford’s Chief Interior Designer

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on October 8th, 2013

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring - Ernst Reim

Motor Trades Insight recently interviewed Ernst Reim, chief interior designer for Ford Motor Company‘s Europe division, to learn about what inspires and motivates his designs. His answers offer insight into the materials, architecture and design cues of Ford’s latest interiors; and hint to what we can expect in the future.

Below is an excerpt from the interview in which Reim discusses fashion’s influence on auto upholstery and the question of leather vs. vinyl, two subjects we’ve explored in depth on The Hog Ring.

What pressures and challenges are you facing as a designer over the next few years? And is fashion playing a greater role in influencing Ford’s designs?

Oh yeah, this is a big influence. Normally, designers are linked to architecture and industrial design, but now the fashion industry is also having a big influence so there are the trendy colours and we also have the fabrics.

Generally, new technology for fabrics is coming in. We can tweak them in a completely historic way so that there are different fabrics and leathers on top. We really can experiment with new materials and create completely new scenarios so it is completely open now.

For every young designer, he can express himself by throwing everything into the development of a built or un-built truck.

Do you feel synthetic leather is an environmentally friendly alternative to real leather?

No, no. I think you always have to have a good compromise. There are big differences in the quality of leather itself. There are different suppliers. I don’t want to mention names. But there are big differences in the real leather quality and with some vinyl suppliers, they are delivering some vinyl textures and new fabrics in a way that you think, ‘even experts will not believe that this is vinyl’.

So the pressure for us now is ‘in what areas do we want to place it?’

For example, the areas where you touch, where you sit and where you grab. On the steering wheel, you definitely want real quality leather. It’s a premium feel and it will always be. So you’ll never have vinyl leather in these areas but in the deck of the seat, for example, where you don’t have this contact with the material, I think there’s some compromise possible. Sometimes.

So there’s always the progression of why do you want to use it. But in total, there’s nothing better than the real leather quality with a good supplier.

Reim has overseen the interior designs of the latest Fiesta, Mondeo, Focus, B-Max and C-Max – so he definitely knows what he’s talking about. To read his full interview, visit Motor Trades Insight.

The Haartz Corporation

One Response

  1. Retired.. An Engineer Or Designer As Ford Calls Them Dosent Realize The Trouble Found On The Skirts Of Most Seats Or The Deck. You Have Leavers That Rub Against The Said Material Creating Friction You Have The TransMission Tunnel Causeing Friction The Center Console If One Exist And With All This The Heat Inside A Parked Car Reaches High Temps. All This Effects The Difference Between Leather And Vynal. If I Were A Designer Which In A Way I Have Been. I Would Prefer All Leather Dyed Through And Through Not Just Top Dyed And No Vynal You Basically Have To Understand Engineers.

    Understanding Engineers #1
    Two engineering students were biking across a university campus
    when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”
    The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday,
    minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike,
    threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what
    you want.”
    The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, “Good choice: The
    clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you anyway.”

    Understanding Engineers #2
    To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the
    glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it
    needs to be.

    Understanding Engineers #3
    A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a
    particularly slow group of golfers.
    The engineer fumed, “What’s with those guys? We must have been
    waiting for fifteen minutes!”
    The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such inept golf!”
    The priest said, “Here comes the greens-keeper. Let’s have a word
    with him.” He said, “Hello George, What’s wrong with that group ahead
    of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”
    The greens-keeper replied, “Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind
    firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last
    year, so we always let them play for free anytime!”
    The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, “That’s so
    sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”
    The doctor said, “Good idea. I’m going to contact my
    ophthalmologist colleague and see if here’s anything she can do for
    The engineer said, “Why can’t they play at night?”

    Understanding Engineers #4
    What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil
    engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build

    Understanding Engineers #5
    The graduate with a science degree asks, “Why does it work?”
    The graduate with an engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”
    The graduate with an accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”
    The graduate with an arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

    Understanding Engineers #6
    Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who
    must have designed the human body.
    One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.”
    Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous
    system has many thousands of electrical connections.”
    The last one said, “No, actually it had to have been a civil
    engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a
    recreational area?”

    Understanding Engineers #7
    Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough
    features yet.

    Understanding Engineers #8
    An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to
    him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.”
    He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.
    The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn back
    into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week.”
    The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and
    returned it to the pocket.
    The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a
    princess, I’ll stay with you for one week and do anything you want.”
    Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it
    back into his pocket.
    Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a
    beautiful princess and that I’ll stay with you for one week and do
    anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
    The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a
    girlfriend, but a talking frog – now that’s cool.”

    And Finally
    Two engineers???
    Two engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking at its top.
    A woman walked by and asked what they were doing.
    “We’re supposed to find the height of this flagpole,” said Sven,
    “but we don’t have a ladder.”
    The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a couple of
    bolts, and laid the pole down on the ground. Then she took a tape
    measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, announced, “Twenty
    one feet, six inches,” and walked away.
    One engineer shook his head and laughed, “A lot of good that does
    us. We ask for the height and she gives us the length!”
    Both engineers have since quit their engineering jobs and are
    currently serving in the United States Congress.

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