Driven by Design

Hudson enrolled at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit in 1994, home to what were then the Big Three automakers. Competition is fierce and car design is one of the most competitive fields to break into. Hudson was one of three African Americans, all of whom were men, to graduate in 1998. Starting his career as a creative designer for General Motors, Hudson designed the gas and break pedals for a retro concept version of the Chevy Nomad. During his seven-year tenure at GM, Hudson designed the interior of the Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster (SSR), the Chevrolet Traverse, and the Hummer H3. He was the lead designer on the 2006 Saturn Sky.

Today he is the design manager at Hyundai America Technical Center Inc. headquartered in Fountain Valley, California. Hudson and his team are the engines of innovation the $98.9 billion company relies on to create cutting-edge products and generate fresh new ideas. He oversees exterior design and has contributed to the Genesis Coupe, the Azera, and the 2009 Nuvis Concept. He was also the lead designer on the 2011 Sonata. Hudson says that by merging engineering and design, Hyundai strives to design a luxury vehicle that is affordable; the Sonata SE retails for about $23,000.

The Hyundai Sonata saw a sales increase of 93% year-over-year, leading to the company’s all-times sales record growth. And it sold nearly 20,000 units a month, putting Hyundai in the ranks of the Accord and Camry. The Elantra saw sales jump 47% year-over-year.
Hudson credits the success to the power of good design. The designers use clay modeling, one of the oldest and most traditional methods used in car design, and software programs such as Alias to visualize developing designs in three dimensions. The design process takes anywhere from eight months to a year.

The young innovator believes that the future of America will be led by creatives. “Designers have an amazing power because you affect people’s lives every day long after the product has left your sketchpad or computer; everything you touch was designed by someone. Great design changes the world. Young people that have the slightest inkling or enjoyment of art and design need to know that there is a future for them in the design industry, whether that be cars, shoes, products, or even video games and advertising. There is a place for them.”

Natischa Harvey (Photo by Erik Umphery)

Natischa Harvey, 29
Education: Bachelor of Art in Political Science, Clark Atlanta University
Title: CEO and Executive Designer of FEVER Tyrone, GA
Creative Force: Sketches all shoe designs creating distinctive styles

As a basketball player throughout her elementary and high school days, and as part of the Amateur Athletic Union, Natischa Harvey longed for a more feminine athletic shoe. She wrote letters to Reebok and Nike pitching ideas for women’s footwear, but never heard back. Taking matters into her own hands, Harvey would spray-paint her sneakers and buy colored laces to match her teams’ uniforms.

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