Once Ford Motor Co.’s top designer, J Mays, is heading back to Michigan as vice president and chief design officer of Whirlpool Corp. of Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Mays left Ford in 2013 after a long career in the automobile industry that included stints at BMW, Volkswagen and Audi before he joined Ford in 1997 as the company’s top designer.
Before his appointment at Whirlpool, which makes a variety of home appliances, Mays has been working as consultant in a variety of areas, including in the movie industry. He also has been a visiting professor at the Royal College of Art in London.
At Whirlpool, Mays, 63, will be charged with “translating consumer insights, needs and wants … into next-generation product design concepts,” the company said in a statement Monday. He starts Oct. 15.
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“Throughout my career, I’ve learned the importance of finding an emotional connection with the customer,” Mays said in the statement. “My interests extend far beyond automobile design, and that’s why this opportunity caught my eye.
“I look forward to leading and collaborating with the already strong Whirlpool Global Consumer Design team. The team has a wealth of talent, is vibrant and passionate and a driving force behind creating customer interest, desire and satisfaction,” he added.
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During his career in the auto industry May had a hand in the development of concept cars that led to the Audi TT and Volkswagen’s New Beetle.
At Ford, Mays nurtured a number of concepts including the Ford Interceptor, Fairlane, Shelby GR-1 and 427, Jaguar F-Type and Lincoln MKZ.
In addition, the designs that reached production included the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2012 Focus, 2011 Fiesta and 2010 Taurus, as well as the 2004 and 2009 F-150, 2005 and 2010 Ford Mustang, 2005 Ford GT and 2008 Jaguar XF.
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In joining Whirlpool, Mays is following in the footsteps of Patrick Schiavone, who left the Ford Motor Co. in 2009 to become vice president of global design and user experience. Schiavone retired from Whirlpool and is now a visiting associate professor of product design College for Creative Studies in Detroit.