"Its floating aspect creates a great blue open space like the ocean”

- Hyundai Motor celebrated the world premiere of the FE Fuel Cell Concept at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, showcasing the next generation of the brand's fuel cell technology.

Chris Drozdowski is an Interior Design Manager at Hyundai Motor’s Advanced Design Team and spent eight months working on the FE Fuel Cell Concept. Chris previously worked for Hyundai Design North America in California for six years, and is now working at the Hyundai Motor Advanced Design Studio in Seoul, South Korea. We caught up with him at the Geneva Motor Show to discuss aspects of the FE Fuel Cell Concept’s interior design.

What inspired the interior design of the FE Fuel Cell Concept?

The hydrogen fuel cell technology was a big influence on the interior. In particular, the concept of water has played an important role since the beginning of the project and this is reflected by the bright blue colour of the interior, selected by our colour team. We kept it very minimalistic by mostly focusing on the technologies to create a spacious and open interior.

We did this by giving the FE Fuel Cell’s seats and console the appearance of floating. The curved monitor on the instrument panel and the secondary monitor on the console highlights the interior's innovative technology. This layout creates a seamless flow of information around the driver, while still maintaining a cross-car theme. The clean and modern design of the exterior was an important influence as well. We wanted to keep a congruent story between the exterior and interior of a positive and innovative future for Hyundai.

Chris Drozdowski, Interior Designer, and Innwhan Kim, Exterior Designer, next to the FE Fuel Cell Concept at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show

What made you decide to work in automotive design?

I’m from the United States and I studied in Cleveland, and now I’m working in the California studio at Hyundai Design North America. I’m temporarily doing a two-year assignment in Seoul in South Korea. Since I was young I’ve always been interested in art and comic books, and once I discovered industrial design I was instantly intrigued, as it was far more involved, very challenging and much more interesting. I’m inspired by the world around me, anything that catches my eye or interests me, as well as new technologies. I like to keep an open mind to different possibilities, and interior car design is a great outlet for creativity.

FE Fuel Cell Concept Theme Design Sketch

Have you worked on any other Hyundai models?

I spent some time working on the initial theme for the IONIQ’s interior, as well as some other concepts for Hyundai in the past. [Chris also previously designed a two-seater reconnaissance robot concept, designed to explore the environment of new planets, as part of Hyundai Motor’s Future Lab project.] The FE Fuel Cell Concept took up a lot of my time, though, so for the last eight months I’ve been solely focused on this project.

How does designing a concept car differ from designing a production car?

There’s a lot more freedom when you design a concept car compared to a series production model. A console that’s completely detached from the floor is something that can be done in concept, but is much more difficult in a series production model.

The floating interior of the FE Fuel Cell Concept

What challenges did you face when working on the car?

Because of the fuel cell technology, Hyundai was very specific about the FE Fuel Cell concept’s appearance. With so many people involved, it's always a challenge to meet each other's different tastes and requirements, as everyone has their own vision about how the car should look. The project is therefore a great example of collaboration and we’re all very happy with how it turned out.

Finally, what’s your favourite thing about the FE Fuel Cell Concept?

I really like the floating aspect of the interior, how it has this great open space combined with the blue that represents the ocean. This makes it very unique compared to other cars, I think.

Read here what Exterior Designer Innwhan Kim says about the FE Fuel Cell Concept.

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