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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Aug 6, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE FLEX DESIGN TEAM INTERVIEW By John Grafman Ford has been doing some serious dancing lately. A few years ago the company decided to move away from lumbering SUVs and aim towards the upcoming crossover market. The market made an abrupt change just prior to the release of the Flex, which made the new smaller, friendlier vehicle looking super-sized. However, the Flex is still more efficient than anything in its class. Patrick Schiavone and Anthony Prozzi were part of the team responsible for creating the new direction in style and form. The challenge of creating a smaller large size people mover is an opportunity to explore new ideas. Patrick and Anthony shed some light on how Ford did it and their opinions on this new product.

LA Car: The world is a rapidly changing place. The products that we demand now are not the same as we envisioned just a few years back. What were the concerns for the Flex while it was undergoing design development? Patrick Schiavone: Flex is a departure from what the marketplace has seen in the past. It creates a new mindset for what a "people mover" might look like. Some people are initially uncomfortable with change, be it design, innovation or functionality. However, we are seeing people heartily accept the Ford Flex as an alternative. People like to have different options. It is important that we create products that resonate strongly and to which people have a real emotional reaction. LA Car: Where did you draw you inspiration from on the Flex? What are some of the competitors Ford was taking aim at, and do you feel the goal was achieved? Anthony Prozzi: Designers get inspiration everywhere. And as a community, designers are working together -- across disciplines and around the globe. Graphic elements are shared between fashion, furniture, appliances and architecture. What we all share is our honest desire to give great beauty to function. LA Car: What are your favorite aspects of this vehicle?

Schiavone: The honest, two-box shape. Also the vista roof and the side grooves. Every graphic moves your eye 360-degrees around the vehicle. LA Car: There are several aspects that set the Flex interior apart from what we see in other Ford people movers like the company's SUVs. What ones do you feel are the most striking? Prozzi: I believe Flex provides a completely new alternative to transporting seven passengers. It opens up an entire range of opportunities for customers. It breaks out of the stereotypic notion of a people mover, by creating a design that is actually appealing. There are no trade-offs with the Flex. It offers best-in-class attributes -- flexibility, technology, materials, and performance -- in a vehicle with attitude. LA Car: In what ways have some of today's technology improved the design side of the Flex? Schiavone: The Flex is as much as design breakthrough as an innovative technological break through. Flex offers a wide variety of systems, including the refrigerator, entertainment systems, and connectivity technology such as Voice Activated Navigation, SIRIUS Travel Link which allows you to find the cheapest gas stations in your area and SYNC. All these systems complement the design of the Flex which is a modern and forward thinking piece of automotive work.

To view LA Car's driving impressions of the Flex, click here  To view Brian Kennedy's Op-Ed piece on the Flex, click here

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