We were fortunate to be able to talk with executive vice president and head of Genesis design Luc Donckerwolke about how the Essentia Concept was done. It started in late 2017 as a design competition between studios in Korea, California, and Germany. Donckerwolke selected a proposal from Sasha Selipanov’s advanced studio in Europe and an interior from Chris Ha in the U.S., with color and trim led by Bozhena Lalova in Korea. “Design without frontiers,” as Donckerwolke characterizes it.
“The project was done integrally digitally—no scale models, no clay model, no hand work,” Donckerwolke says. “I do not really believe any more in the clay process.” Teams on three continents in effect worked 24 hours a day. “As the teams in Europe and California were going to sleep, they would send the data to Korea. We would work through their nights, and they would find a fresh data set on waking up to carry on.” Donckerwolke and right-hand man SangYup Lee reviewed data daily in Korea.
About the absence of accessories, Donckerwolke says, “It was intentional … to achieve the purity we were searching for. We assessed it with the details but refrained from using them. … Door handles are not needed, as the doors are automatic and fingerprints and biometric facial recognition trigger the opening.” The impressive wheels were created using the G Matrix philosophy the group has been creating, with simultaneous digital engineering and design to optimize weight and strength. Each was milled from a single aluminum block and then coated with the corporate copper finish (95 percent copper content).
The overall aesthetic is “a direct consequence of an aerodynamic study optimizing the flows,” Donckerwolke says. “The crest grille separates the flow in various directions for battery cooling, downforce, and drag reduction, leading to this layered front end. The lower one is helping reduce kinetic energy and gets extracted partly sideways, while the top one is channeled around the full glass canopy to reduce drag.
… We forced ourselves to highly respect the conceptual aerodynamic study during the design phase, and the aerodynamic performance was remarkable.”
We’re inclined to say the aesthetic performance is remarkable as well. Essentia is an impressive object packed with good ideas, both beautiful and practical.