Founder of Nissan Design International
While ideas are conceived in individual
minds, they are seldom born in isolation and rarely
Now retired, Jerry Hirshberg has designed or inspired
more than 100 styles of cars, pickup trucks, and
sport utility vehicles. In 1980, he left General
Motors to create Nissans first design studio
in the United States. Nissan Design International
has produced a stream of trend-setting innovations
and won countless awards.
Sometimes the right person for the job is two
people. At NDI, designers are hired in pairs.
After Nissan recruited him from GM, Hirshberg
hired two designers he had worked with in Detroit--Tom
Semple and Allan Flowers. Semple loves the freedom
of a blank sheet of paper. For him, design means
inventing new forms. Flowers starts by assessing
potential components and materials, schedules
and priorities. For him, design means understanding
how things work.
Bringing these two together created an immediate
vitality, a crackling intensity. Each approached
a project with utterly different priorities and
workstyles. The pairing was so successful that
we said, Let's keep doing this.
I believe in creative abrasion. And I mean
abrasion. We have titans in their fields going
at each other: Im sorry, I see the
project this way. The way youre approaching
it is just absurd. That friction can produce
wonderful creative sparksÄ.[NDIs designers,
modelers, and engineers] get a kick out of the
pairings because they feel valued for their own
quirks. They see that the boss doesnt just
tolerate divergence--he courts it. So they feel
free to be themselves.
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