On April 15, the Lancia concept car will be revealed in Milan. This is an opportunity to re-read the interview with Jean-Pierre Ploué, the Italian brand’s design director, conducted during the presentation of the Pu+Ra Zero manifesto.
Jean-Pierre Ploué is the design manager of Stellantis Europe. But since the creation of Stellantis, he is also the design director of the Lancia brand. The presentation of the Pu+Ra Zero manifesto was an opportunity to meet him again.
Taking inspiration from Lancia’s icons means revisiting quite a heritage: Pininfarina for the Flaminia and Gamma coupe, Bertone for the Stratos Zero and finally Giorgietto Giugiaro for the Delta. Isn’t that too heavy on your shoulders?
“I don’t have that feeling, I have some experience anyway! In fact, it’s the magic of the exercise that is incredible, the rebirth of a brand on the basis of its heritage. It’s an incredible thing in a designer’s life. I’ve been lucky enough to experience this feeling twice, first with DS and now with Lancia. I use all the expertise of my years of experience, so we went very fast and it worked quite well, and naturally. We did it with a lot of pleasure! We have a lot of pressure of course, whether it’s timing or economic, but it came quite naturally. 80% of the team is Italian and I live here in Italy with my family 60% of the time, the rest in France.”
Is reviving Lancia easier than creating DS?
“It is simpler because the DNA is also strong, but the heritage is still present and known. DS is different, because it is a completely new brand, even if it evokes the historic DS. Lancia is a historic brand with 116 years of history, and several iconic cars in that history. It is a brand that speaks to all car enthusiasts.”
What theme are we working on in this case?
“We are taking over the DNA, the value, the codes and above all, no retro design. Lancia will always remain modern. We use typical elements of the brand, such as the round lights that will be present on the Ypsilon, while the front end clearly evokes Lancia’s historic ‘chalice’. We’ve taken the essential codes and turned them into a modern and, above all, sustainable design.”
The Delta will be the last of the three Lancias announced, in 2028. Why not before?
“There were priorities such as renewing the Ypsilon, which exists and is the last representative of the brand today. We reinvented it and imagined it differently. The Ypsilon is a bit like a small ember on which we blew to think about the future. The brand has survived thanks to it and there is a part of its history that we are reactivating through the renaissance of Lancia. Concerning the Delta, yes, there were of course debates. The choice was made for various economic and industrial reasons, but the Ypsilon was the priority.”
How do you manage to switch between your role as Lancia design director and that of Stellantis Europe design director?
“The first thing is that when I was in charge of Citroën styling, I did it with my gut. Since then, I have stepped back and appointed a design manager for each brand. The new design directors of the other brands all put their values, their spirit and their creativity at the service of their brand, which they each know very well. So yes, I sometimes have to arbitrate designs that sometimes coincide, but if we work with the DNA and values of the brand, each model becomes unique to a brand. Our Lancia grille could not be found on a DS or a Peugeot. As for our designers at Lancia, they have all the maturity and expertise for this work. We bring different answers to those of the other brands. Even between Alfa and Lancia, there is no question: on the one hand there is the sportiness of Alfa, on the other hand the Italian elegance of Lancia”.
Will your collaboration with Cassina (above, the FELTRI By Gaetano Pesce chair) impact interior design?
“It’s a cooperation that came about naturally, because we have common values, a common DNA and all this in Italy. We want very cozy, comfortable interiors with an Italian feel, so we thought it was obvious to share a common approach. The designers of Lancia and Cassina see each other, yes, but in no way do our designers make Cassina products and vice versa, Cassina designers will not design our interiors.”