The raids continue: Another key BMW exec jumps to Ford

LONDON - BMW AG last week lost more senior talent to Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group.

Ford named Henrik Fisker, director of BMW's Designworks/USA subsidiary, to become creative director of the London Design Enterprise center and design director of Aston Martin, Ford's luxury sports-car brand.

The 38-year-old Dane becomes at least the 12th high-profile BMW executive lured to Ford since former BMW No. 2 Wolfgang Reitzle was named the first chairman of the Premier group in March 1999. The group consists of Volvo, Jaguar, Lincoln Mercury, Land Rover and Aston Martin.

'It goes without saying that Henrik's a talented designer, but his strong business sense and background make him uniquely qualified for this position,' said Ford design chief J Mays.

The Design Enterprise center, located in a six-story building in the trendy Soho district in central London, will serve as a think tank for design ideas for all Ford brands worldwide. The center will explore automotive designs for Ford and produce industrial designs for clients outside the auto industry.

Mays believes automotive design can benefit from cross-pollination of ideas in other areas. He chose Soho because of its proximity to London's thriving commercial design, graphic arts, advertising and broadcast media communities.

The design center also will explore new marketing ideas for Ford's family of brands. Ford has been intrigued by the success of Ferrari in creating a thriving business in Ferrari-brand paraphernalia.

The center, which is scheduled to open in September, will employ 30 designers.

Fisker's experience will serve him well. Designworks/USA, a subsidiary of BMW headquartered in Newbury Park, Calif., created a variety of concept cars and products for BMW and other companies, including office organizers, mobile phones, bicycle seats and snowboard graphics.

Prior to joining Designworks, Fisker worked at the BMW AG design center in Munich. He penned the exterior of the Z07 concept car, shown at the 1997 Tokyo show, and the exterior of the production Z8 roadster.

Fisker will replace the veteran Ian Callum as Aston Martin's chief designer. The move frees Callum to concentrate on his other job in charge of design at Jaguar, which is growing its model lineup rapidly.

Fisker received his design degrees from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. and the University of Switzerland.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@autonews.com

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