Fuorisalone 2024 where to go to Milan

Fuorisalone 2024 where to go to Milan

“Innovation is the mother of change and having an attitude based on this is definitely a winner.” And if the innovation is a woman, head of the Color&Trim and Concept&Strategy team Cupra couldn’t help being there, Francesca Sangalli, an Italian designer who, with a strategic eye and vision, is responsible for defining the lines, shapes, colors and materials of tomorrow’s cars. We meet him inside Cupra garage in Milan in Corso Como 1, in front of Piazza XXV Aprile, where on the occasion of Design Week 2024 Cupra showed Black Rebel, a rebellious and revolutionary concept vehicle from the very beginning of its design. In fact, the car was born from the requests of 270,000 users, who contributed with their virtual configurations to determine the characteristics of the real version of the model on display. And which Francesca has collected and reworked, giving voice to the desires of an audience that is still mostly male, but which she helps to overcome discrimination and prejudice. In this sense, within a company as inclusive and innovative as Cupra, the female perspective can turn into an additional possibility, a valuable resource that will be used to redefine the doctrines and principles of the automotive industry. Along with its structure.


Paolo Alfieri

How would you describe your role to non-professionals?
I am officially the Head of Color&Trim and Concept&Strategy. So my work does not only consist of drawing, but the idea is to create concepts for the cars of the future. I deal with everything related to the search for colors and creative materials, which can best express the brand.

How do you become an automotive designer?
I started doing architecture at the Polytechnic of Milan, but already during my university studies I was very close to products. With Erasmus, I had the opportunity to attend a university in England specializing in Industrial Design. I stopped there and got a second degree in this field. Then it was all an investigation. When I returned to Italy I worked in product design studios and soon joined Mercedes-Benz as a concept designer. Here began my true love for accessories, which represent the future of the automotive industry. When I started, Color&Trim was only dealing with shapes. Now there are almost no limits to what can be done, even to determine the line or mode of living of the car.

Have you always loved the world of cars? Even when you were a child, did you prefer toy cars instead of dolls?
I have to tell you no, it was not. But I’ve always been curious, innovation attracted me. And in the field of design, the automotive industry presents a truly interesting situation because the product is one of the most complex ever. Having the opportunity to create something new inside the car is a great inspiration.

in front of the white carpinterest


A woman among the leaders of the industry that responds to the desires of the majority of male viewers. Do you feel like you had to run faster than others to get where you are?
I wouldn’t tell you I heard that. Cupra is inclusive and values ​​diversity. As a result, I don’t think I’ve worked harder than others, if anything I feel like I’ve had more opportunities. The vision and leadership of women is very different from that of men and the female perspective is something that in my particular case, in my profession and how I developed myself, has greatly defined the possibility of implementing something new.

Do you think there is still too much discrimination?
I don’t believe there is discrimination, at least I never have in my work. It is a theme of perspective. I believe that every professional has his own way of dealing with different topics. Never before has there been an opportunity for alternative visions in all fields. I am fortunate to work in a very destructive reality compared to the status quo. There is a lot of room for new ideas and also a tendency to accept risks, because all new things always involve a dose of uncertainty. Having the chance to take a risk is no small thing.

In your opinion, what can a female look bring more to an automotive design team?
Side vision, the reality of not working based on specific, closed and cramped warehouses, but the desire to explore new areas and ways of doing things. I believe that in Cupra there is already a strong prediction for this, by being open and allowing these effects to exist. It is very helpful in achieving innovation. Thinking differently allows for significant cultural change that can involve the entire company.

What do you let yourself be guided by when working on a new design?
For me, consistency is very important. My team has defined the basic pillars to structure the new material starting with color. They are the pillars that make up the brand identity. Once you have a solid foundation, then it’s all about exploration and evolution. I believe it is important to have an attitude that aims to always be one step ahead, expanding the brand’s history and narrative. Cupra is only 5 years old and therefore young, still has a long way to go.

a man and a woman standing in front of a blue wall and a microphonepinterest

Paolo Alfieri

Colors, fabrics and materials. How do they contribute to the final appearance of the car?
They have a lot of influence. They represent touch and feel. The whole feeling section is fundamental for any consumer who wants to use the product. The experience factor is one of the most important factors. Materials and colors are actually the first image a person has of a brand. The material serves precisely to give a face to the brand. In the case of Cupra we were able to create an interesting palette, not so much based on color but on textures, to get the best results.

What are the latest trends in this sense? Does car design also depend on trends as it happens in the world of fashion?
There are certainly some general trends. For example, when the electric conversation started, you could see many white cars with blue lights. There was a general tendency to represent change with respect to combustion. Of course there are also styles on the formal level, you can move from a more organic language to a more square one. However, I believe that the most important thing is to create something unique to be able to make a big difference compared to the existing and very high competition in the market. If you want to be different, the only way is not to follow the trend but, in fact, to create it.

An option that can never be missing from your car?
Certainly the choice of seat materials. I don’t have a favorite, but I’m looking for one of the suggestions that conveys the most innovation and character to me. It can be bio-based fabric or leather or microfibre, but the important thing is that it has attractive properties. I don’t like smooth faces, which are empty and inexpressive. Instead, I like to take advantage of the photographic landscape. I believe that all the elements can really help to give a strong identity to the design and make it unique.