Kemal Curic, 35
Lead exterior designer, 2015 Ford Mustang, Ford Motor Co.
Big break: Getting a chance to submit a drawing for the proposed 2015 Mustang
From the time he was a middle school student in his native Sarajevo, Kemal Curic stole every spare moment in class drawing cars in notebooks -- lots and lots of cars.
"I got in trouble all the time," he says. "I drew books and books full of cars."
The drawing was a nice distraction from the difficulties of life in his war-torn homeland. Curic was born in a country -- Yugoslavia -- that no longer exists.
"The war affected us. We lost our house in Sarajevo."
His home city is now the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the countries that emerged from the multiple conflicts that convulsed the region in the 1990s and redrew the map.
When he was about 12, Curic and his sister moved to Duesseldorf, Germany, to live with their grandfather.
Once he began his education in Germany, Curic began to realize he might actually be able to make a living doing the thing he loved most.
"I didn't know the job existed," he says.
Curic studied industrial design at Bergische University in Wuppertal, Germany, specializing in transport design and autos in particular. After graduating, he got internships at Ford and Mercedes-Benz.
Ford offered him a job in Cologne working on interior design. His first project was the Fiesta.
"I started off with the steering wheel," he said. "Imagine coming out of school and doing a steering wheel and shifter knob." From there, Curic worked on the interior of the Iosis, a concept car that appeared at the 2006 Paris show and debuted Ford's "kinetic design," a theme that dominates Ford global design.
After his work with the Iosis, Curic migrated to exterior design and worked on the Focus, Vertrek concept and Escape-Kuga, the crossover that emerged from the Vertrek. By that time, his work was being noticed and he transferred across the Atlantic to Ford's studios in Dearborn to join the team working on a momentous car -- the 2015 Mustang to be introduced on the 50th anniversary of the first Mustang.
"You can imagine every designer wants to be part of the Mustang story," he says.
Curic was among many designers who submitted Mustang sketches to Ford's design leadership in 2011, and his was one of nine chosen to be built into one-quarter scale models.
From there, four were selected for rendering into full-sized clay models, and Curic's design won. A soft-spoken, self-effacing man, Curic feels extremely fortunate, as though he still can't quite believe he gets paid to do what he loves.
He says: "I had the right sketch for the right model at the right time."