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Sonata Design Story

Design Story

Designing an icon.

with Sangyup Lee

Since 1985, the Sonata has been the subject of much love, envy and admiration. In Korea, it has been traditionally known as Dad’s Car and/or a Public Car. A signature model of the Hyundai sedan line-up, the all-new Sonata is not just any car. The steps taken to designing this car was as personal as it was a huge challenge for Hyundai Designer Sangyup Lee and his team.

A Design Challenge

The design team started by trying to understand what the Sonata meant to them. As a car that represents Korea, most Koreans had ‘some form of experience’ with it.

As an art student, 25 years ago, owning a white Sonata was a dream to Sangyup. As a young man, his heart would skip a beat when he saw one on the street. It was the layered experience of millions of people that made the designing of the new Sonata so challenging. “Its hard to express in words the emotions when i first put pen to paper to sketch my dream car.” Sangyup mentioned at the World Premiere in Seoul. With a rich folio of designing more than 16 different car brands around the world, this was a huge responsibility.

In order to liberate the Sonata from all it’s stereotypes, the design team stripped off layers to get down to the real essence of the car. From there, a new backbone was conceived. A coupe styled sedan that shows a sensuous yet overflowing tension, not a typical cliché of four-door sedans. One with a good balance through short and low projections, sloping rooflines and a lower body type.

By liberating the Sonata from it’s preconceptions, the design teamwas able to incorporate new proportions, structure, styling and technology, exceeding customers’ expectations.

“It's hard to express in words the emotions
when I first put pen to paper to sketch my dream car.”

The Defining Point, Light Architecture

But above all, what makes the new Sonata so unique is that it features state-of-the-art lighting technology. The daytime running lights, embedded with hidden lighting lamps is a first for a Hyundai vehicle. Light architecture, the new design language does not stop at the exterior, the interior features ambient mood lamp illuminating the dashboard and doors.

This design language captures Hyundai’s future-oriented values by marrying technology and design.

Sonata Experience, Seoul South Korea

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