Editor's note: Because of incorrect information supplied to Automotive News, two photos in an earlier version of this story misidentified Ray Chimienti, color and materials mastering designer for Ford.
DETROIT — Even as Ford Motor Co.'s factory workers begin going back on the job this week, thousands of salaried employees might remain homebound into July.
Among them is a team of a half-dozen color and materials designers who continue to make the paints, leathers, vinyls and carpeting match on everything from the EcoSport to the Expedition, even from their basements and living rooms.
Continuing work while locked out of their normal studio space has been a challenge.
The designers are coordinating near-daily deliveries of color swatches and material patterns from dozens of suppliers to their homes. They have ad-libbed validation tests by using special handheld color-correction lights and jeweler lenses to inspect samples.
Red shirts are a no-no; bright colors could reflect off the swatches and make testing difficult. They're also instructed to work in parts of their home with neutral tones.
Still, the makeshift setup — common for workers throughout the auto industry in the age of COVID-19 — allows Ford's designers to keep operating near full capacity, ensuring both prototype and production vehicle programs remain on track.