In an exclusive interview with Car Design News, the Chief Designer of Lexus, Ian Cartabiano, has emphasized the brand's commitment to simplicity and functionality in automotive design. While the automotive industry often values striking and over-styled designs, Cartabiano advocates for a return to the basics, focusing on clean lines and functional aesthetics. This approach sets Lexus apart from many of its competitors and highlights the brand's dedication to timeless and elegant design.

The Basics of Design

Cartabiano's design philosophy revolves around the idea of "the basics." This means focusing on fundamental design principles such as proportion, balance, and restraint. According to Cartabiano, embracing simplicity allows for a greater emphasis on the essential elements of automotive design, resulting in vehicles that are visually balanced and harmonious.

In an era where many automotive designs strive to make a loud and bold statement, Cartabiano's approach may seem counterintuitive. However, his emphasis on the basics reflects a deeper understanding of the principles that underpin successful and enduring design.

Timeless Elegance

One of the key advantages of Cartabiano's approach is the creation of designs that exude timeless elegance. By eschewing fleeting trends and fads, Lexus vehicles are able to maintain their appeal for years to come. This focus on longevity and enduring beauty resonates with consumers who seek vehicles that are not only stylish today but will remain so in the future.

In a fast-paced and constantly evolving industry, the ability to create designs that stand the test of time is a significant achievement. Cartabiano's emphasis on timeless elegance ensures that Lexus vehicles continue to be appreciated for their understated and sophisticated aesthetic.

Functionality and Form

In addition to emphasizing simplicity and timelessness, Cartabiano places a strong emphasis on the relationship between functionality and form. While some designs prioritize form over function, Cartabiano believes that the two should be intricately linked. By integrating functional elements seamlessly into the overall design, Lexus vehicles are not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly practical and user-friendly.

This commitment to marrying form and function results in vehicles that are not only visually appealing but also intuitive and easy to use. From intuitive control layouts to ergonomic seating configurations, every aspect of a Lexus vehicle is carefully considered to enhance the overall user experience.

Craftsmanship and Attention to Detail

Another hallmark of Cartabiano's design philosophy is the commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail. Every line, curve, and surface of a Lexus vehicle is meticulously crafted to achieve a level of refinement that is synonymous with the brand. This dedication to perfection is evident in the seamless integration of components, the precision of panel fits, and the exquisite quality of materials used throughout the interior.

Furthermore, Cartabiano's approach to design extends beyond the aesthetics of the vehicles themselves. He also emphasizes the importance of considering the overall brand experience, from the moment a customer interacts with a Lexus vehicle to the long-term ownership experience. This holistic approach ensures that every aspect of the brand's design reflects a commitment to excellence and attention to detail.

A Personal Touch

Cartabiano's design philosophy is also influenced by his personal experiences and background. With a diverse cultural heritage and a global perspective, Cartabiano brings a unique worldview to his role as Chief Designer at Lexus. This breadth of experience is reflected in the designs he creates, which often feature a fusion of different cultural influences and design sensibilities.

Additionally, Cartabiano's hands-on approach to design, often sketching and sculpting models himself, speaks to a personal investment in the vehicles he creates. This personal touch infuses his designs with a sense of passion and authenticity that resonates with customers who appreciate the human element in automotive design.


In an industry often characterized by bold and extravagant designs, Ian Cartabiano's emphasis on simplicity, timelessness, functionality, craftsmanship, and personal touches sets Lexus apart. His commitment to the basics of design, combined with a global perspective and hands-on approach, results in vehicles that are not only visually striking but also practical, intuitive, and enduring.

As the automotive industry continues to evolve, Cartabiano's design philosophy serves as a compelling reminder of the enduring value of timeless elegance and functional aesthetics. By shunning over-styling in favor of the basics, Cartabiano and Lexus are paving the way for a new era of automotive design that prioritizes harmony, balance, and lasting beauty.

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