Ford and Lincoln design honcho leaves to head Nissan North America design

Man who led the charge on Navigator, Aviator starts a new revitalization project

Last Friday, David Woodhouse suddenly resigned from his dual positions as Ford's director of global strategic design and director of Lincoln design. In a post not long after leaving, he praised the efforts of his former team over the past six years he headed design at Lincoln. Among other products, that crew gave us the redesigned Navigator, the Continental concept and production sedan, and the Aviator concept and production crossover. Car Design News reports Woodhouse traded Michigan for California, taking the role of VP at Nissan Design America in San Diego. He officially assumes the position July 1, and will also serve on the Japanese automaker's Global Nissan Design Management Committee.

Woodhouse has spent more than 25 years in the design department, starting with BMW and work on the Mini and Range Rover brands, followed by a brief stint with Cadillac of Europe. For the past 20 years he's been with Ford, coming on board with the Ford's former luxury arm known as the Premier Automotive Group — Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Lincoln.

He became Lincoln's design director in 2013, introducing the world to the design language labeled "quiet flight." He described the language's details as "anti-wedge body gestures, S-curves wherever possible, and an emphasis on horizontal lines at every opportunity to create leaner, longer, wider emphasis on the exteriors, and create equilibrium, balance, and calmness on the interiors." A much shorter way to describe it is: revitalized Lincolns. The U.S. luxury maker's new and overhauled products have been praised for their lines by critics and by paying customers. The brand's done so well it's hard to remember when the MKC concept was a revelation, and that goes on Woodhouse's résumé, too.

That's some special juju to take to Nissan, where Woodhouse will lead both Nissan and Infiniti design focused on the North American region. Nissan has a solid if uninspiring lineup that sells well here, while Infiniti, as the luxury brand, is the bigger issue. Infiniti sedans glide on the contrails of a design language more than 10 years old. The money-making crossovers and SUVs haven't made a splash in about the same time, since the long-ago FX45. Nissan's plan to update 70 percent of its lineup over the next few years and Infiniti's transition to an all-electric brand makes right now the perfect time to break into riveting designs for the street.

Woodhouse replaces Taro Ueda, who moves into a global role with Nissan. The new VP will report to Alfonso Albaisa, SVP of global design at Nissan.

Lincoln Navigator Information

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