Interview: Berk Kaplan, Automotive Designer


Meet Berk Kaplan, an Automotive Designer from Turkey. He has worked with many big brands and studios and now working as a successful freelancer. He will be sharing his thoughts and journey to become an automotive designer in this interview.

Where are you from and how’s the car design scene there? 

I’m from Turkey, there is no car design education but there are few transportation design studios. Most known is Ford Otosan design studio in Istanbul where I did my internship 7 years ago. In general, there is no big car design culture however everybody loves cars and there is a big interest. 

When did you first think about becoming a car designer? 

Before high school, my brother mentioned there is a possibility to be a car designer and since then I was super focused on that field. I was around 14 I think. As there was no car design in Turkey, I studied industrial product design for my bachelor’s degree. 

From where did you complete your education? 

I have my bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Gazi University – Ankara/Turkey. Then I got a scholarship for a master’s and got my degree from Scuola Politecnica di Design – Milan/Italy. 

What motivates you? 

Seeing that creativity and design are endless motivates me. I feel hungry to create and see other creatives. Also, I learned a lot from the internet when I was a student, which motivates me to share my experience and knowledge online with others. It is a kind of giving back to the car design community. 

Where do you get/seek your inspiration from? 

Everything I see, any experience, taste, smell, any conversation I have might be an inspiration. When the design is your lifestyle rather than just a job, you always seek inspiration and anything can be inspiring. While doing research for a project, I prefer to see other creative fields as well as specific subjects of the design brief. Seeing other creatives’ works is always helpful as the design is an ongoing process, a collection of knowledge. 

How was your career path from the beginning up to today so far? 

It started when I was still an industrial design student in Turkey. I won a design competition and was offered a part-time junior design position from a construction company called Hidromek. I was a student and designer at the same time for almost the last 2 years of my studies. Before that, I had my internship experience with Ford Otosan design studio as well. During my studies, I won a couple more design awards and one of them rewarded me with a full scholarship so I went to Italy for a master’s. Before finishing the master’s I was offered an internship at Italdesign. After my internship, I was offered a full-time exterior designer position. I wanted to change the country after spending 3 years in Italy and I started to work at Design Storz in beautiful Zell am See / Austria. Since my studies in university, I have had different freelance jobs on the side. In the summer of 2020, I wanted to pursue freelance work and online teaching full-time. So here I am. 

What do you think about future mobility? 

I don’t have a specific answer for that topic as I don’t believe there is a single simple answer for that. What I can imagine is future mobility will be more efficient and smarter. Our needs change with new technologies and lifestyles. Mobility will follow up with these somehow..  

What are your views on the impacts of COVID-19 on this industry? 

Of course, COVID had a terrible effect at the beginning and we all know the danger of it. However, to look from the positive side, I can say many people still work from home and we realized it is possible to connect without spending a lot of time and money on transportation. So it opened up new possibilities for creatives and I like that. 

When did you decide to leave the job and why? 

In the summer of 2020, it was time to be independent. However, I always had in my mind to do that for years. All my family members have their own businesses and it always made me think about that. My fiance and I were in different countries at that time and it was not the best experience. So quitting my job, focussing on freelance work, and living together with her was the decision-making reason.  

What advice do you have for upcoming transportation design students? 

Be open to new things, don’t take anything as this is the only way of being a car designer. There are many ways than you think, softwares, skillsets, job titles, they all change over time. Try to follow up on what is today and more importantly what is coming. Never think you are done with learning, it is limitless. So always stay hungry and use the advantages of online learning.

You can follow him on Instagram. To watch some great tutorials and other design-related content you can subscribe to him on Youtube. You can buy his courses on Gumroad, there are some free courses also available!

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