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The New Language of Ferrari Design

28 aprile 2020

Chris Rees

How a completely fresh design language has emerged from Maranello, from SF90 Stradale to Ferrari Roma

Ever since Ferrari set up its own dedicated design department, Ferrari Centro Stile, under the direction of Flavio Manzoni in 2010, design at Maranello has evolved in bold new directions.

This evolution truly came of age in 2019, with the launch of no fewer than five new Ferrari models, heralding in a new era of design language. Just like the spoken tongue, Ferrari’s design language has many dialects, conveying the multi-faceted make-up of its model range. The common theme is an expressive confidence that represents a true symbiosis of design and engineering teams.

Chief Design Officer, Flavio Manzoni, says: “One of the key reasons why Centro Stile was created, was to be able to work with a very high level of synergy with the engineers – to combine art and science. There is a very close relationship between form and content, between the external surface and internal components. Perhaps it is only experts who can really appreciate just how interconnected form and function have become.”

The first of the five new models unveiled during 2019 was the F8 Tributo, about which design team leader Carlo Palazzani comments: “The F8 Tributo’s shape is quite disruptive for a Ferrari berlinetta; it’s the most extreme look ever on such a car. It represents a bridge towards a new design language at Ferrari.”

Just what the F8 Tributo was bridging towards soon became abundantly clear with the unveiling of Ferrari’s SF90 Stradale – a truly epoch-changing car that completely rewrites rulebook on mid-rear-engined sports berlinetta proportions.

“The design is something between a race car and a spaceship,” says Flavio Manzoni. “The cabin has a small frontal section, like an aeronautical cockpit, giving a cab-forward effect. This helps provide a lot of tension between front and rear – a slingshot effect.”

The SF90 Stradale’s cab-forward look also has an emblematic meaning, perhaps: the design is forward-looking and innovative. It truly conveys the car’s mission as an extreme supercar, with performance and technology to the fore.
One of the main areas where design and performance synergise is aerodynamics. The F8 Tributo, for instance, features front ‘channels’ that not only funnel air to cool the brakes, but also form a strong design element that’s replicated in the side body air intakes.

Of course, every new model has to be instantly recognisable as a Ferrari. While the latest designs undoubtedly draw inspiration from Maranello’s iconic classics, they are resolutely focused on the future.

The SF90 Stradale’s rear end design is a prime example, says Manzoni: “The flying rear buttresses are a highly characteristic Ferrari element – as in the 330 P4, for instance – but with an absolutely futuristic interpretation.”

Lighting, too, illuminates the road ahead – almost literally. For instance, the F8 Tributo’s LED technology allows for very compact headlamps, and therefore space for a cooling air intake above the lights. The SF90 Stradale’s headlights move firmly away from the L-shaped look, to a slender slit design, while its rear lamps are no longer circular but sliced top and bottom to give a very aggressive look.

Design is as crucial inside the car as it is outside. In the SF90 Stradale, a track-derived “eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” philosophy significantly influences the interior. For instance, the all-digital instrument cluster is a 16-inch curved HD screen that’s fully configurable via the steering wheel, which features an innovative touchpad.

The final car unveiled by Ferrari in 2019 is the Ferrari Roma, a very different design inspired by the golden age of Italy’s ‘dolce vita’ era of the 1960s, whose epicentre was Rome.

The Ferrari Roma emphasises ultra-modern minimalism, as Flavio Manzoni explains: “The long bonnet and compact coupe glasshouse recall the Italian design language of the sixties, but this car is not nostalgic in any respect. It’s extremely modern: the soul of the sixties in a contemporary design.”

Matteo De Petris, head of Advanced Design, adds: “We worked long and hard on the shape of the cabin volume to make the car even sleeker, characterised by a prominent ‘shark nose’ look and a set-back A-pillar.”

That sense of sleek, alluring elegance is carried into the interior, as Fabio Massari, Interior Lead Designer, says: “When you open the door, you find two inviting, almost symmetrical living spaces, two cells that wrap around driver and passenger.”

The Ferrari Roma occupies one extreme of the design spectrum, while the SF90 Stradale is very much at the other end. Such contrasts demonstrate with absolute clarity how Ferrari’s new language of design is evolving in very different and excitingly fresh directions.