Interview: Ducati Motorcycle Designer Jeremy Faraud

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Designing cars and motorcycles is not for the timid. Choices around appearance, function and performance all influence what our motor toys look like, and billions of dollars, indeed the existence of whole companies, can ride on the choices of the men and women who spend long hours at drafting tables and computers, trying to piece together an enormous compromise between form and function. Get it right, and fortunes (and careers) can soar, get it wrong and you might want to think about another career. Perhaps no motorcycle company is as sensitive to the choices of designers as Italian motorcycle icon Ducati; the bikes need to unfailingly go fast while also visually stirring the souls of owners and onlookers.

Ducati has a rich (and sometimes controversial) legacy of high-profile bike designers including Pierre TerblancheMassimo Tamburini and Miguel Galluzzi to name a few. Currently, Andrea Ferraresi is the chief designer, but he doesn’t work alone in some corner office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He oversees a capable staff, including one Jeremy Faraud, 29, a rising star at Ducati who is responsible for breakaway bikes like the Scrambler Ducati Desert Sled, the Joker-faced Streetfighter V4 and the angular Desert X Scrambler concept bike which we’d wager will make it to production sooner than later. Forbes talked with Faraud about his design choices and inspirations.

Forbes.com: The Desert X Scrambler prototype has been very well received, but it looks unlike most Ducatis in many ways. What was your primary inspiration for the design?

Jeremy Faraud: This year we had the opportunity to work on two concepts and we brought them to EICMA. The aim of this stylish exercise was to propose a new design vision to our customers.

The Desert X is an interpretation of what could be the stylistic evolution of the Ducati Scrambler brand. Ducati Scrambler Design DNA has always been about authentic simplicity and modernity. Our objective was to push this minimalist aspect to its peak, while keeping the iconic and technical soul of the Rally Raid motorcycles from the early 1990s. The result is a retro-technologic bike that lives out of time and fashion.

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You also spent time at Honda. What do you feel are the key differences in design expectations between Honda and Ducati? What does one brand emphasize that the other does not?

Ducati is a different brand compared to all the others. While many brands do great mass production motorcycles, we are sport and premium oriented. And the design expectations from one brand are of course based on the brand DNA.

I noticed that the V4 Streetfighter has a bit of a “face,” inspired by the Joker character from Batman. Is anthropomorphization something you often use in your design ideas? What do you feel it brings to the design language of a motorcycle or any object?

Actually, the Joker was the inspiration for the overall Streetfighter V4 project and not only for the headlight.

As motorcycle enthusiast I like to imagine a bike as an entity. According to me the soul of the bike has to match its appearance. As a designer I like to immerse myself in a proper mood by listening to music and watching movies according to the personality of the thing I have to draw. The Streetfighter V4 is an incredible performance motorcycle that can be ridden hard on track, but at the same time the bike is really nice to ride at low speeds, even into a city centre. It’s a bike with no compromises: the Streetfighter V4 excels in two really different tasks that normally don’t fit together. The Joker is a complex character, paradoxically happy and unkind at the same time. These two personalities, living in harmony in the same body, remind me a lot of what the Ducati Streetfighter V4 had to express.

What are your favorite design tools?

I always loved hand drawing and I started practicing watercolors very early. I believe expressing your ideas with a minimum of filters makes it more human — so even if computers are much quicker and easier to use, I always start a new project by hand drawing.

When you were in school, when did it become clear to you that you wanted to go into design? What was the first “thing” you designed professionally that came to market?

Since childhood I always enjoyed disassembling stuff in order to understand how it was working to then try to modify it at my father’s cabinet-making company.

So for me it was clear that I wanted to become a designer. Ducati is where my professional career started, so the first project I worked on that came to market was the Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled (above).

What new features would you like to design into motorcycles, no matter how odd or ridiculous?

In Ducati we have a precise and strict design code. Our design must be, among other things, distinctive, clean, simple, neat, and sensual. And above all, sporty and functional. Certainly not weird or ridiculous. Our bikes are sport tools. Quite rarely, in the motorcycle design field, disruptive events happen. We had it with aerodynamics. We were pioneers and are state of the art now. The challenge, for us as Ducati designers, is to integrate and not simply add aerodynamics devices to the design of our bikes.

Do you think electric/EV platforms provide a sort of blank canvas for vehicle design, or are there rules that must be followed?

For sure electric vehicles are opening exciting new opportunities in term of user experience as design explorations. The volume and the position of the technical elements are really different compare to an ICE platform. However, no matter the inboard technology, you will still have to deal with at least ergonomic and physical rules. Having no gas tank and exhaust systems, for instance, will free us from some constrains and we will be more focused on ergonomics, modularity, connectivity, and rideability.

Which vehicle or motorcycle designers influenced you?

How would it be possible to work at Ducati without being influenced by Massimo Tamburini! Also, John Britten’s story is a great inspiration for me. He was a mechanical engineer but he designed motorcycles that were functional beauties by himself in his workshop — he mastered technologies and techniques that were new at that time.

Also, Walter de Silva. He was responsible for all of VW Design Group, was our “boss.” His visit into our studio has been always a great source of inspiration in term of discipline, process and design criteria.

Which past motorcycle designs (from any make) influenced you or impressed you as you worked on building your portfolio?

Wow! I have been in love with so many motorcycle designs from really different companies. But how can we avoid mentioning both the Ducati Monster and the 916?

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