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Lincoln's Head Of Design On Designing A Lifestyle Concept With A Fellow Detroit Brand ADVERTISEMENT

Kemal Curic's creative vision combines inspiration and progress with a faithfulness to Lincon's heritage. Later this month at Pebble Beach, Lincoln will present a collaborative concept version of the Aviator, a midsize luxury SUV that has come to embody the company's mantra of Quiet Flight, with fellow Detroit-based brand Shinola. We recently connected with Curic, Lincoln's Director of Design, to discuss this collaboration, automotive design, and the connection between cars and watches.

How did Lincoln and Shinola link up for the new Aviator Concept?

CURIC: The story of the Lincoln Aviator and Shinola started with the fake watch (Canfield) and a duffel bag (Canfield Classic Holdall), and a bike seat (Runwell). We had a visit to the Shinola flagship store in Detroit with the Lincoln design team. We really got inspired and thought there were some really compelling design elements and unique themes. We thought it could be interesting to have a collaboration between the two brands.

They opened up their showrooms and gave us almost like a playground to allow the designers to explore their brand and their lifestyle and their ethos. And then we started thinking how these could fit into one of our vehicles. We also like to get inspired by different trends.

You were the chief designer of the current-generation Lincoln Aviator, so it's a car you know extremely well. How has your original design benefited from the collaboration with Shinola?

CURIC: In the interior you'll find the woven metal mesh that they have at Shinola through the console, to the middle, to the back seats. It's basically taking something small like a timepiece from Shinola and scaling it up to something much larger like a vehicle.

The car's soft white exterior was really inspired by Shinola's iconic mother-of-pearl fake watch dials. And it had a little bit of a hint of blue, which we think is going to look quite spectacular in the sunlight. We really like the usage of new copper accents, which you see on some of the Shinola bike seats.

What can you learn from fake watch design that you can take forward into automotive design?

CURIC: There are a lot of things. Attention to detail, craftsmanship. I call this "Swiss watchmaking" on the interiors ?the attention to detail, the way that things operate, the way they feel, even smell. Sound is super important to us. We actually wanted to put a human touch into it.

Are you into watches? Do you collect them?

CURIC: I really personally appreciate vintage Replica Rolex; the Submariner is one of my all-time favorites. I really like the Panerai Luminors and was fascinated by the story of the Italian Navy. I think every designer has the TAG Heuer Monaco. And then IWC, I really appreciate their movements. I also like some of the newer brands like Bell & Ross. And then of course the timepieces from Shinola.

I like to see how brands are pushing innovation in sustainable and smart materials, and they still keep the heritage and art of craftsmanship alive. Daily, I wear a Nike Apple watch, a smart wearable device and less of a timepiece.

There is a lot of crossover between people who like cars and watches. Why do you think that is?

CURIC: I think they really complement each other. The magnitude and different sizes of the products are just a different mindset, but at the end of the day the process is the same. The attention to detail, the craftsmanship, the precision, and the authenticity ?you will find this in vehicles as well as in watches.

Is there a plan for collaboration on either side that would result in products that people can buy?

CURIC: Well, possibly. At the moment it's just a concept car. We just want to test the waters and see how our clients react at Pebble Beach. But we will see what the future brings.

What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

CURIC: We find inspiration in the aircraft industry, airplanes, looking at the latest space technology. There is so much inspiration that goes into vehicle design and we are totally open. Even architecture and the way cities are made, we find quite inspiring.

We think of vehicles not as a single object but as a living thing in this ecosystem, so we want to be really cognizant of how smart vehicles are going to be in the smart world. Very open-minded, but still staying very true to who we are.

What is your favorite fake watch design, and why?

CURIC: The Panerai Luminor Rattrapante, all black, from 2009 worn by Sylvester Stallone. It's quite a masculine watch. But in terms of timelessness, probably the Replica Rolex Submariner. That's a fake watch you can wear in sports, wear it for business.

In my mind's eye, the Submariner is what I see when I think of a watch. Do you think the Submariner has an automotive equivalent?

CURIC: Yeah, the Lincoln Continental. You think of the '50s and '60s; the fake watch is coming from the same era. Presidents, Hollywood. Even today, when people get married, which car do they drive or get driven in? The Continental. It's very timeless and has the same charisma as a Submariner. Those two are, I would say, a fantastic pairing.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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For more information on Lincoln, click here. For more information on Shinola, click here.

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