The Buick Enclave is the industry’s best-selling crossover with third-row seats, so GM knows that any changes to the car need to be handled with car.
Unfortunately, when it comes to design, improving a successful product can be a bigger challenge than starting with a clean sheet.
In the case of the Enclave, revising the design is made even more complicated when you consider the vehicle also carries the weight of being the originator of the brand’s current design philosophy.
Addressing most of these issues fell to lead sculptor at GM Nick Barkley, who worked on the original as well as the latest 2013 model
. In addition to manipulating full-scale clay models, much of Barkley’s creative work is done in the digital space with three-dimensional modeling programs.
“Buicks have been some of the toughest work I’ve done because they are so sculptural,” said Barkley, a designer at GM for 12 years. “There are so many concave and convex forms. To make an organic, hand-shaped look show through the forms is both difficult and rewarding.”
Asked to name the most-challenging element of the Enclave’s design, Barkley immediately pointed to the traditional waterfall grille that went through countless iterations before a final form emerged that met both the design team’s standards and manufacturing capabilities. He notes that the production version remains true to the earliest clay mockups.
Of course the design of a vehicle such as the Enclave, or any other vehicle for that matter, is the result of hard work from a team consisting of numerous staff from multiple disciplines, including designers, sculptors and engineers.