David Woodhouse of Nissan Design America on Nissan Design

By Gary S. Vasilash

David Woodhouse is Nissan Design America vice president of Design, a position that he’s held since June 2019. Prior to joining Nissan Woodhouse held a number of senior design positions at Ford, including as director of Design at Lincoln and design director for its Global Strategic Design function.

Put simply, Woodhouse is well versed in automotive design. (He also races, so this is more than theoretical to him: he knows what makes something good.)

He began his professional design career in 1994 (at BMW), so he’s been around long enough to know what’s going on without having been around so long that he isn’t resistant to what’s going on.

Nissan—including Infiniti—is an interesting place to be as it is a full-line manufacturer with utes, pickups, sedans, sports cars, and EVs in its portfolio. There’s the Nissan Versa at one end of the spectrum and the Infiniti QX80 at the other.

2023 Nissan Ariya interior (Image: Nissan)

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Woodhouse talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Eric Noble, founder and president of automotive consultancy The CARLAB, and me about some of the new developments at Nissan—like the electric Ariya and the forthcoming Z—and his view in a more macro sense of what’s going on in car design.

In something of a departure from other interviews, Woodhouse also answers a couple questions from transportation design students at ArtCollege School of Design (Noble is on the faculty there).

One of the intriguing things about Nissan’s design approach is that they are embracing the heritage of the company, using what Woodhouse calls “J DNA,” with the single letter standing for “Japanese.” For example, the interior of the Ariya is meant to be comfortable like the room of a house, so the Japanese Omotenashi approach to hospitality was taken into account when executing the interior design.

During the second half of the show, McElroy, Noble and I discuss a variety of topics, including Ford’s separating its ICE and EV operations, the February vehicle sales (a SAAR of 14 million: not good), the consequences of rising petroleum prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the competitive space in electric vehicles (with this last bit being somewhat. . .lively).

And you can see the whole show right here.