Lincoln designer leans on passion for automobiles and the arts in helping to rejuvenate brand
By Marcus Amick
For Lincoln designer Dillon Blanski, the road to Detroit was a little different than most.
Born and raised in Claremore, Okla., a city with a population of roughly 18,000, Blanski was inspired to pursue a career in automotive by his father’s enthusiasm for working on cars and his mother’s love of the arts.
After high school, Blanski studied at a small university in Oklahoma for a year. But his passion for automotive design led him to Detroit to study at the College of Creative Studies, later interning with Ford Motor Co. before working on the 2010 and 2013 model year Fusion.
Now, Blanski revels in blending the two passions he picked up from his parents as an exterior designer for the newly named Lincoln Motor Company, working on vehicles like the new 2015 MKC crossover.
“To me cars are more like a piece of mobile art, and are not just a tool to get from point A to B, but something that we should enjoy,” Blanski explains.
The 30-year-old designer, who’s now raising his own two boys with his wife in Ferndale, leans heavily on those ideas he picked up from his parents as a member of the Lincoln design team.
“On most occasions, I approach automotive design as artist, and I try to design something that I find aesthetically appealing first and then try to make it work,” says Blanski, who first joined Ford Motor Co. in 2007. “I usually like to look at trends in architecture and product design for inspiration. Architecture trends seem to have more longevity and products are all about the latest tech, so it’s good to have a mix of the two. Something that is timeless, but modern all at the same time.”
Blanski also notes some of the new trends with wearable 3-D printing technology and the work of artist Daniel Widrig as inspiration.
He says he’s applied some of the design philosophies to his work on the MKC, Lincoln’s first-ever small vehicle, and the first execution of the new Lincoln design DNA on a utility automobile.
“The Lincoln MKC is very important to our strategy because it is a new vehicle segment for the Lincoln brand, and we hope that it will attract a younger buyer or someone who might not have looked at Lincoln in the past,” Blanski says.
He does, however, note that the overall design process for the new compact crossover wasn’t easy.
“I think the biggest challenge so far has been spreading that ‘no compromises’ mentality throughout the Lincoln brand,” Blanski says. “We have a goal to make beautifully crafted cars, and we have to work very hard to achieve those goals at times. For instance, the wraparound lift gate on the MKC was a challenge that took a lot of time and hard work to get just right from a design and engineering standpoint.”
Still, you quickly get the sense that it’s the kind of challenge that Blanski revels in as someone charged with helping to move the luxury carmaker forward.
“From a design perspective, I’m trying to help rejuvenate the brand with fresh and distinct designs to help the Lincoln brand become more competitive,” Blanski says. “The MKC has an athletic grace in the sculpted surfaces, which defines some of the direction we would like to take with the Lincoln brand.”