The man who set Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis on a more adventurous design direction after a generation of conservative models is back.
Luc Donckerwolke left the Hyundai Motor Group abruptly in April this year in order to “focus on his health”.
Now after some “temporary time away in which he took to take care of personal matters”, he’s rejoining the company at executive vice president level in the newly-created position of chief creative officer.
Donckerwolke will be based out of the company’s European technical centre in Germany — he was previously based in South Korea.
As part of his new role, Donckerwolke will also be in charge of design-related communications from the company, with a particular focus on the Genesis luxury brand, fuel-cell vehicles, and Hyundai’s Ioniq electric vehicle sub-brand.
No overarching design chief for the group was appointed after Donckerwolke’s departure earlier this year.
As such, Sang-yup Lee continued as the design director of both Hyundai and Genesis, and Karim Habib stayed as the head of design at Kia. Both men will continue in these roles with Donckerwolke’s return.
“It is with great honour and pride that I start this second chapter at Hyundai Motor Group to consolidate creativity. In collaboration with design teams, I will communicate diversity and richness of Group brands’ design, which is not only technologically dynamic but also customer-centric,” Donckerwolke said in a statement.
The Belgian designer joined the Korean automaker in 2015, and was initially put in charge of newly-created luxury marque, Genesis. In 2016 he was elevated to head of Hyundai Design Center in 2016, giving him oversight of the company’s main brand.
He became head of design for the Hyundai Motor Group in November 2018, replacing Peter Schreyer in that position.
During his first tenure as the group’s design chief, he set Hyundai back on an avantgarde path with the new Sensuous Sportiness language, which can be seen on the latest Sonata, i30 sedan, and upcoming Tucson.
At Genesis, he gave the young luxury brand a distinctive face and styling elements with the “athletic elegance” look, which has now been rolled out across the entire range.