Classic Car Designer Of The Day looks at the life of a famous car manufacturer and how they’ve contributed to the industry. Patrick Le Quement made a name for himself at Renault, rising to become the Senior Vice President until his retirement in 2009. Le Quement turned Renault into a design powerhouse, making it the place young designers wanted to work.
Le Quement was born in Marseille on the 4th February 1945. Although he was born in France, Le Quement grew up in the United Kingdom. He went on to study at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, gaining a BA in Product Design. He also attained an MBA from Danbury Park Management Centre.
Car design career
After graduating, Le Quement joined French automaker Simca in 1966. He left and started his own design business, but it failed. Le Quement returned to the UK in 1968 and joined Ford. While a part of the company he designed the Ford Cargo truck and Ford Sierra.
In 1985, Le Quement joined Volkswagen and set up a centre for Advanced Design and Strategy. Due to declining sales, the CEO of Renault, Raymond Levy recruited Le Quement to help turn the company around. Before he took the job in 1987, he demanded structural change. Le Quement wanted the design team doubled to more than 350 people and the department didn’t answer to engineering anymore.
Le Quement lived by his motto ‘Design = Quality’ and said his changes at Renault were to develop an innovative formal language. “Up to just a few years ago, I would have given you the name of individual products – but today I would be more inclined to say Renault Design. So, basically we have abandoned what I call ‘styling esperanto,’ namely the formal language used by most other manufacturers.”
Since becoming Vice President, his designs have included the Twingo, Megane, Kangoo. Laguna and Avantime. Le Quement became Senior Vice President of Quality and Corporate Design in 1987 and he worked with a number of young designers, including Shiro Nakamura, who he shortlisted to become the head designer at Nissan
Le Quement stayed with Renault until his retirement in 2009. His successor was Laurens van den Acker. The Frenchman’s achievements are very impressive and he has earned his place as one of the most influential car designers of the 20th century.