The Maorinews Review interviews: Mitja Borkert, Lamborghini

26 April 2018 | by CDN Team

I think Lamborghini design DNA can be summed up in a couple of ways. The first, for me, is when I sit down to draw cars with my three-and-a half-year-old son, and I draw something for him, I don’t even get to the wheels; I just draw a silhouette – this simple, single line, perhaps we should call it the ‘Gandini line’ – and he immediately says: ‘Papa, it’s a Lamborghini.’ This couldn’t be a Ferrari, or a Porsche, and is so unique to the brand.

Lamborghini design as we know it effectively began with the Miura, but to create the DNA of Lamborghini today, we see it more as initiated by the Countach. That philosophy of the silhouette of the car, the ‘Countach line’, we did again on the Aventador and used it to really establish the extreme proportions that are so important to how a Lamborghini appears today – and, although it’s a completely different type of car, we still used the feeling of the Countach to design the new Urus SUV in the same kind of way.

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As well as our sports car history, a major inspiration for the Urus, of course, was the Lamborghini LM002. It may seem like the cars don’t have much in common, but when you look closer, you can see that we took inspiration from a number of things. For instance, the way the hood on the LM appears like it was almost designed with a ruler, we took the same kind of feeling with a line accelerating back up the hood from the front of the car.

We also liked the way the wheelarches on the LM were really offroad-ish looking, so we have reinterpreted the idea for the Urus in a similar but much more dynamic way. The last little thing, for me, is the triangular air outlet on the fender of the LM. Again, we’re using it in a more dynamic way, leaning it backwards a little bit, but we’ve also added an Italian flag inside, showing that the car is proudly designed, developed and built in Sant’Agata Bolognese.

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This is the influence that the LM’s design had on the project, but then everything else is particular to the Urus. I want our customers to expect the unexpected: a Lamborghini is only really a Lamborghini if its design is challenging, fresh and new. As a result, I’m really convinced that the car will open up a new door for us in terms of our customers.

Depending on what colour you choose, the car can look highly elegant and maybe capable of bringing customers of traditional GT cars to us, but then you still have the option of a more aggressive look, simply by opting for a colour like yellow.

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When I’m in the studio, I’m trying to be a good friend. I’m trying to be a motivator. I’m trying to be a coach. We have a team of 30-35 people and I want everyone to come to work every day feeling creative, inspired and with a lot of joy.

Of course working for Lamborghini should be already motivation enough, but today we have so many good designers and so many good design studios for great brands all over the world, so it’s not only the Lamborghini brand that is important.

I feel like, as the leader of the design team, I have to set a great example, so I have to keep my design skills super-sharp too. Having been in the car design business for around 20 years now, I have made plenty of mistakes and learned from them, so it’s also interesting to watch my young guys maybe making the same errors, but being able to give them some advice or having much better understanding of the situation.

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I really enjoy working in Italy. Maybe as a result, I feel like my team is much more emotional, and that makes me more aware of how important it is to be sensitive in the way I criticise or the way I motivate or the way I involve people. I think I can manage that very well and I think that is one of my key strengths.

I’m a guy with a lot of energy. I come in every day with a lot of energy and I try to share this energy and enthusiasm with my team. I enjoy meetings when we see the new ideas, new sketches, when we receive new models, when we discuss design.

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Every two or three months, I also run a creative day. It was something I started when I was working at Porsche. So, for example, we will go to the Alfa Romeo Museum for the day, or we’ll just meet up somewhere and watch videos that are inspiring but not necessarily about car design – maybe they’re about some kind of new technology, or how to produce things in a different way. For me it’s important to take a break, have a change of scene in order to get some fresh perspectives.

I remember the very first time we did this was very intense and very inspiring. At the end of the day we came home with a lot of ideas that have now been put to good use in new projects. I really like this process as everyone in the studio is an artist, and when they’re working, they’re being creative. But for me it’s important to be aware of when I’m feeling that it’s time to take the team out of their comfort zone.

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When I’m looking to hire new talent, first of all I’m looking for team players – that’s the most important thing at Lamborghini as we are quite a small team. I could never afford to have one diva in the team, even if this diva would be very talented. My guys are all highly talented, but my guys are team players. This is, for me, a talent that today’s designer has to have.

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This interview is from our Maorinews Review 5, a beautifully-produced 200-page book published this Spring and containing the past year’s finest concept and production cars, plus trend reports, an in-depth feature on our lifetime achievement award winner, industry legend Wayne Cherry, and interviews with many of the world’s foremost designers. If you’d like more details or the chance to purchase your own copy, go here.