Interview with the Greek designer of Alfa Romeo
Alexandros Liokis is one of the Greeks who make us proud with their activities abroad. He is Senior Exterior Designer at Alfa Romeo and was the Lead Exterior Designer in the Tonale project, a prototype C-SUV that made a great impression with its pure beauty at the Geneva Motor Show, in March 2019.
He was born on March 16th 1988, in Athens, where he also grew up. After high school he studied at the TEI of Western Macedonia in Kozani, in the Industrial Design Department. The studies there were not focused on styling, but on more practical issues, knowledge of materials etc, aiming more on objects that are more likely to be produced in Greece. His diploma was a modern version of the Citroen DS.
He then prepared his portfolio and sent it together with his application to IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Italy, where he was admitted to the two-year Masters Degree in Automotive Design. From then on, a brilliant career begins, with the creation of the original Alfa Romeo Gloria car, which was presented in Geneva in March 2013, which was based on his initial designs.
It was a gorgeous concept car that was the foundation, at the time, for the hope of the renaissance of Alfa Romeo, something that Alfisti (the lovers of the legendary Milanese brand) wished for, from all parts of the globe. It is a car that has been featured in the Top Gear UK news, where it was positively commented by the central presenter Jeremy Clarkson, something that is not at all easy.
After the Gloria, Mr. Liokis began his practice at Alfa Romeo for six months and, just before the end, made a brief pass from Maserati by participating in the Alfieri design team (a concept car presented at the Geneva Exhibition in 2014) and then returned to the design center of Alfa Romeo, Centro Stile, where he participated in the development of the Giulia and Stelvio. The design centers of both companies are actually housed in the same building in Turin, where he was officially recruited, and hence we are a few years later very pleased to see and admire production cars that have his signature.
Talking with Mr. Liokis and seeing his everyday life through his Instagram account (@liokis_photography), where he casually posts beautiful car photos, static or in motion, his real love for the car, the automobile, is immediately apparent, which of course is not limited to just one specific brand or one category.
Since when did your interest, your love, for cars begin?
“Since the time when I can first remember myself as a very young child! At first, I was looking at photos of cars in my father’s car magazines, and then I took up building model cars. At the age of thirteen, we bought a Citroen DS with my brother and we began to restore it ourselves”.
Did you start drawing, designing cars at that age also?
“I have been designing since then, only cars, just like now. My love is more about cars and less about the design -in general- as an activity. I was trying to draw cars by copying them from photos. I even remember how much I was frustrated by an Alfa Romeo 156, so much that I finally got tracing paper and drew over its photo. The next years I was trying to improve the image of some cars, changing their front end, their lights, etc”.
What other projects are you currently working on at Alfa Romeo?
“During this time, I’m working on some new Alfa Romeo models, of which I can not say or show anything specific. At the same time, I teach car design at the IED, at the school from which I graduated”.
What has been the biggest -so far- obstacle in your career?
“The particularly tough competition and life away from relatives and friends”.
How difficult, or easy, is it for a Greek to live in an international environment?
“It depends on the country where you are. In Italy, for example, it may be easier because the mentality is similar to ours with what it implies. However, it is not like our homeland”.
How is your typical day at Alfa Romeo’s Centro Stile?
“I may sketch, work with clay to create a model, or work on the virtual 3D model. It always depends on the requirements of each project”.
What is your daily car in Italy in this period of time?
“A 1983 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, in which I find beautiful details and I think its design has very nice proportions, and a first-generation Mazda MX-5, which I consider to be one of the most “fun to drive” cars of all of time”.
Which is your favorite driving road?
“I would say to Drafi, behind Penteli, as it’s there where I was experimenting in my teenage years. Here nearby, around Turin, it has many interesting routes but I would have distinguished Susa – Moncenisio, especially with an Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. Also, a favorite one is the coastal route that ends in Sounio”.
What is your view on the evolution of car design?
“I think it has not changed dramatically over the last 80 years. Not at least as much as you would expect. As far as styling is concerned, there are changes in fashion and trends, depending on each decade, that are leaving and coming back. Currently, due to the economic crisis, automakers are choosing safer paths, not bold ones as they once did. Also, due to globalization and regulations (passenger and pedestrian safety standards), cars are no longer quite very different from each other”.
What is the design process for a car today?
“Everything starts from a sketch on white paper and continues with digital renderings, presentations to the senior, changes to the original design, construction of the clay model in a 1:5 scale and then 1:1, detailed 3D drawings on which we also make many changes, and the final handmade prototype presented at the international car show”.
What was your objective during the Tonale design process?
“Our team’s objective while designing this new SUV was the simplicity of the form and the purity of the volumes, taking inspiration from the past to create the future of Alfa Romeo. We always work in the direction of creating the “necessary beauty” for every new concept car”.
From which cars did you get inspiration for Tonale?
“The cars that inspired me for the design of the Tonale were the Giulia GT, from which we used the so-called “GT line” that runs through the profile of Tonale, the Alfa Romeo SZ, the Disco Volante and the most modern Brera”.
What do you consider to be the most beautiful car ever built?
“The most beautiful car ever for me is the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale of 1967. I sit endless hours and observe it every time I visit the recently renovated Alfa Romeo Museum and try to understand its design and how can it be so beautiful”.
What was the most powerful moment or, if you wish, the one that will be unforgettable to you from the creation of Tonale?
“The most moving moment was the one that invited me to place the Alfa Romeo emblem on the prototype grille shortly before traveling to Geneva for the official premiere and then revealing it”.
What is your favorite phrase, or something you might say to yourself some possibly difficult time?
“Do what pleases you in your life and fight for it”.
What do you dream about the future of your career?
“To create, along with my team, cars that the world will remember and love”.
Mr. Liokis, finally, did a special mention to Alfa Romeo’s large Centro Stile team and the contribution of all his colleagues to the final result, emphasizing the fact that building a car nowadays is purely a teamwork.
Mr. Alexandros Liokis is, currently, the most important Greek car designer of the new generation, one of the most important young car designers worldwide, and undoubtedly his talent, knowledge, methodology, and capabilities will soon lead him to the top of the field he has chosen.
Photos: Alexandros Liokis, Alfa Romeo