Creativity 50 2015

Creativity 50 2015: Michelle Christensen

Car Designer

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Michelle Christensen
Michelle Christensen Credit: Courtesy Acura

Acura Exterior Principal Lead Designer Michelle Christensen was inspired to go into automotive design in her late teens while stopping at a hot rod show in her native California. Her father, a muscle car enthusiast, pointed out a car designer at the show. "That was the first time I ever heard of that. It just blew my mind because it's two of my favorite things put together: art design and cars," she recalled in an interview. "From that point, I just made it my mission to get into that."

She not only entered the career, but has excelled at it, becoming the first woman to lead a design team working on a supercar, according to Automotive News. That car, the Acura NSX, was unveiled earlier this year, drawing attention at the Detroit Auto Show. Designers, she said, must fight the urge to get carried away overdesigning. She emphasizes blending design with functionality, as evidenced by side intake vents on the NSX that serve as prominent design feature but also supply the engine with air.

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