There can’t be many other jobs with titles quite as exciting as that of Ferrari design chief Flavio Manzoni – and neither can there be many other jobs quite as exciting. A recent project of his was to oversee the genesis and evolution of the marque’s 812 Superfast – and look how astonishingly well that went. Yet, life isn’t all about creating fantasy automobiles – his customers are amongst the world’s most demanding, as are his shareholders and CEO. He’s also balancing Ferrari’s legacy of 70 years whilst looking to the future. Still, who wouldn’t swap their job for his?
He trained as an architect, and is a compulsive scribbler – always keen to get ideas and inspiration down on to paper. We met him recently during our tour of Ferrari’s Maranello factory. It’s a place where efficiency and perfection are the watchwords – how else are you going to build the world’s most desirable sportscars? His approach is identical. Look again at the next Ferrari you see – notice the attnetion to detail. Notice how the body is sculpted to appear visually light in addition to being physically light too.
We’re keen to know Ferrari’s future. Will there be an SUV? What are his thoughts on the current ‘retro’ trends in automobile design. And what about electric – if not when (it’s already happened for Ferrari, firstly with the LaFerrari), then how wide?
His answer to every question comes from the same approach. That is, ‘is it true to Ferrari’s style, and will it make a better car than the one before?’
An SUV is ruled out on the simple basis of the driver’s seat position. You sit ‘in’ a Ferrari with arms and legs outstretched, you sit ‘on’ an SUV. This is enough of a break from Ferrari’s DNA to prohibit the segment’s inclusion in the range.
Electric, though, is a different matter altogether. Last year, CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that all new models will be hybrids from 2019. Today, Flavio has the enviable task of helping shape the future.
In design, it is often said that great designs are achieved where the designers matches form with function. We contend that, rather, the very greatest designs are created by those who acknowledge the form and function are one and the same thing. Flavio Manzoni is indeed one such designer. Through his pen (and sometimes stylus), he’s shepherding the Cavallino Rampante onwards with the challenge to exceed the benchmark of the latest model, time and time again.
Ferrari is in Kuwait with Al Zayani