We are very sad to reportthe sudden passing of Steve Anderson, one of the most respected, talented and accomplished design leaders in the Southern California automotive design community.Earlier this month, he passed away suddenly from heart failure while and his wife Kerry were returning on a ferry after a hike on Santa Cruz Island on their 27th wedding anniversary. Steve was just 51 years old.
After his graduation from Art Center College of Design in 1991, Steve had a rich and varied career, from his first internships at Izusu and Calty to his most recent position as Manager of Operations and Design Strategy at the Audi Design Studio in Los Angeles. According to Gael Buzyn, Director of Design at Audi, “Steve had a most elegant way to deal with any challenging situation. He was a humanitarian with an amazing attitude and no ego or arrogance. I feel that I have lost my big brother.”
Steve’s first and significant design achievement was as a young designer at Volkswagen Simi CA, working on the Volkswagen Concept One Showcar that was introduced at the 1994 Detroit Auto Show. On this project, Steve worked with Jay Mays, Franz von Holtzhausen, Derek Jenkins, Freeman Thomas, and many other talented pioneers in the Southern California design community.
Verena Kloos, the Director Design for the studio at that time commented, “I will always remember him as a loyal and responsible person. He was the first designer I hired from Art Center.” Steve later went on to finalize the production design version of the New Beetle in Germany.
Steve moved to Nissan Design America in 1998 and made significant production contributions to the 350z and the Titan exteriors.
In 2000, Steve was enticed to move to the GM Advanced Design Studio in Burbank CA, where he made the majority of his design contributions as the Assistant Director of Design, providing Strategic Research and Design management of up to 60 people at a time, on projects such as the 2010 GM E-NV Show Vehicle, 2008 Jay Leno/EcoJet Showcar, 2007 Hummer O2 Concept, 2006 GMC PAD Concept, 2004 SoCal Belly Tanker Showcar, ZH2 Concept and more.
Frank Saucedo, Director of Advanced Design for General Motors commented, “I cannot say enough about what a great guy he was. At work, he always treated colleagues and staff with a very compassionate and fair approach. Steve was the total package he was a strategic and amazing designer and had great business sense. And beyond design, he was an amazing ‘family guy’ both at home and his family at 5350. I was so shocked at the news…”
Steve was well known for his passion about multiple brands and types of cars, not only about design, but also the technical features, model years, and production histories. As an enthusiast and entrepreneur, Steve spent many evenings at home illustrating, producing and marketing a series of photorealistic automotive illustrations that occasionally graced the covers of classic car books, and other publications such as Excellence, Cavallino and 000 magazines. (Steve’s illustrations dedicated to the history of Porsche and Ferrari models can be found at ).
Freeman Thomas, who worked with Steve on the Concept One at VW, stated, “Steve was highly disciplined, and really good at compartmentalizing his work and his home activities: He gave 100% to his work and 100% to his home.”
Steve is survived by his college sweetheart and wife Kerry and their five children.