Citroen's Coco has done it all

DONATO COCO did a little bit of everything before entering London's Royal College of Art in the early 1980s. The Italian-born Citroen designer attended architectural college, worked in advertising and photography and apprenticed as a metalworker. He has illustrated children's books in China and even designed ski wear. Since joining Citroen in 1984, Coco has worked on the styling of the Saxo, Xsara and Picasso. Four years ago, he was made chief designer of small-car projects. Those projects include the new C3 supermini, C3 Pluriel and a future mini. With the individual styling of the C3, Coco is aiming to restore Citroen's reputation as a pioneer of distinctive car design.

Name:

Donato Coco.

Current title:

Chief designer, Citroen Platform One (small-car projects)

Previous job:

Head of Citroen interior design.

Lives in:

Montmartre district, Paris.

Nationality:

Italian.

Age:

47.

Family:

One son (Victor, 20), one daughter (Elena, 16). Lives with Dutch girlfriend Myrthe in Paris.

Countries lived in:

Italy, France, China, England.

First job in car business:

Joined Citroen as a stylist in 1984.

First car:

Citroen 2CV.

What is parked in your garage?

Classic Alfa Romeo Montreal, Alfa Romeo Spider 2000 and three motorcycles: Ducati 450 single cylinder, MV Augusta 150cc and BMW 1000 flat twin.

What cars have you admired most?

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce and Citroen DS cabriolet.

What was the toughest assignment?

Creating the design of the Citroen Saxo using the body style of the Peugeot 106. But I am happy that the Saxo became successful after all.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

All the work I have done over the last four or five years. The Picasso was realized with 60 percent carry-over parts from the Xsara. And the new C3 and the future C3 Pluriel are giving me great satisfaction.

How do you relax?

Running around Lake Vincennes (on the eastern side of Paris) on Sunday morning, or walking in the Montmartre area. Also spending time at home, reading and listening to music.

What do you do on planes?

I am scared of flying, so not much.

What CDs are in your car?

Jazz by Toots Tielemans and Cuban piano music by Rubin Gonzalez. Very sentimental.

What do you read?

A lot of professional literature. But on vacation, I read Italian literature and classic novels, like Hemingway.

Favorite food?

Any of the 58 sorts of pasta my mother uses to cook!

Do you enjoy cooking?

I like cooking classic Italian meals, Indonesian food and rich Dutch winter stews which Myrthe enjoys.

Favorite place for a holiday?

Once a year to Gargano in Puglia, Italy, to see my family. But I also like to discover the world. Once I walked with my son through the Sahara for a week and we slept in the open.

What do you dislike about your job?

The constraints of the ever-accelerating time schedules to finish a job.

Where do you get your best ideas?

I am an nonconformist. Watching people and how they behave in their environment inspires me to try to do thing differently.

Do you work weekends?

Though not physically in the office, this work keeps your mind busy seven days a week.

What companies do you admire outside the auto industry?

Not any particular company, but I am always impressed by organizations that make dreams come true, like NASA and its space activities.

Who do you admire within the auto industry?

Engineers and stylists who are able to create something fresh and practical within a set target. And I love to see (PSA Chairman) Jean-Martin Folz speaking to other people without any written notes in front of him.

What do you dislike about yourself?

I always have a lot of doubts, so I may lack self-esteem.

What are you good at?

I am tolerant and open to other people's ideas.

What is the next big thing in the auto industry?

The development and application of new materials will accelerate in the next couple of years.

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