Marek Reichman is perhaps not the man you’d expect to be designing Aston Martins. He looked quite professional when he met us, from the ankles-up.
Dress pants, and a fashionable dress shirt look the part, but the running shoes he wore suggest he’s not your stereotypical executive.
Maybe it shows that there needs to be an element of functionality in design? Or maybe he just needed to walk a lot on this particular day.
That said, when you work with a man like Andy Palmer as CEO, you can’t be stereotypical at all.
Sitting about ten metres from the new Aston Martin Vantage, Reichman tells us about the dynamic Palmer sets at Aston Martin, in particular with Reichman himself.
“Andy, he’s a brilliant supporter,” he starts.
“That’s an important relationship between chief creative officer and CEO because at the end of the day I’m representing the company visually, and he has the reins of the business success of the company.
“So we have to have an incredibly tight relationship because the success of one relies on the other.”
And that success has been on the rise, with Aston Martin in its best financial position for a long time. In 2017 Aston turned a first-quarter profit for the first time in over a decade, and in January 2018 reported its sales in 2017 were better than they’ve been since 2008.
For Marek Reichman, this means a little more freedom to look to the future and plan his designs.
“The stability of where we are now in having this long term vision and plan, means exactly that. You can actually plan products together, and look at them not just on a one-by-one basis.
“There’s a strategy now, a strategic design principle I use because I can see where we need to be versus the plan.
“So I’m not designing one and then another. I’m actually designing them consecutively but understanding what’s ‘here’ now, and knowing what’s coming out ‘there’.
I guess the stability of having the plan and the business success actually relaxes one part of my designer’s brain, but the other part is just as frenetic because it really is the pressure situation of having to develop something which will have longevity.
“Something that does stand for the past but is never retrospective. That’s the bit that I still find incredibly rewarding and challenging.”
Reichman says Aston Martin will release several cars in the next few years, as per the ‘Second Century Plan’ laid out by Palmer. A replacement for the Vanquish is coming next, followed by the DBX, and then the mid-engine Aston Martin supercar which we recently reported on.
The DBX, Aston’s upcoming crossover SUV, will show up within two years, and will probably break cover relatively soon. Reichman says it definitely won’t be a regular SUV.
“It is a product that really fits to our values. It’s very sporting, it’s very dynamic, it’s very much about the grand touring side of Aston Martin – how do you explore somewhere new?
“How do you take an Aston Martin to a place that you typically can’t get it today because it typically doesn’t have any AWD or off-road capabilities? It’s about driving there in a very sporting way.”
So that rules out the DBX being badged under the revived Lagonda marque, then?
“In the plan the DBX was always an Aston Martin. Within the Lagonda family there will be an SUV as well. If you like the DBX is more of the crossover.
“It didn’t make any sense that it would be called a Lagonda because [Lagonda] is all about luxury, and it’s all-electric.”
Much like Reichman, it sounds like the DBX will be wearing running shoes rather than leather oxfords.