Crystal Windham: GM’s Award-Winning Black Female Interior Designer

Earlier in August, General Motors unveiled its first-ever fully-electric SUV, the Lyriq to compete with rival EV makers like Tesla. The Lyriq not only comes with a number of impressive features but also a sleek design.

The newly launched electric vehicle was first mentioned at the January 2019 Detroit auto show. The sleek SUV is able to park itself and pull out of a parking space on its own with no driver. It is well equipped with GM’s advanced Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system, which can transform the SUV into a self-driving car, with the driver’s hands off the wheel on major highways. The Lyriq can also drive over 300 miles on a single charge. The electric SUV is slated to go into full production in late 2022

The sleek interior design of the automaker’s new electric vehicle is owed to Crystal Windham and her team.

Crystal Windham, the director of Cadillac Interior Design

Crystal Windham is the director of Cadillac Interior Design. She was appointed the role in January 2016 after years of joining General Motors.

“When you are given the opportunity to open the door for Lyriq—everything that you interact with, whether it be touch, explore, or discover—I led several teams that go into that experience,” Windham said in an interview with Black Enterprise.

When asked about what made the design of Lyriq different from other designs she responded by saying:

“The fact that it’s battery-electric, we can carve out different spaces within the vehicle. We were able to carve out space down the center of the interior. The center console allowed for a very striking platform for the component to sit on. Also, the lower area is open. You can put a handbag there. To me, having a place for a handbag is extremely important and women ask for that. Now, we have the opportunity to make it right at your fingertip.”

Since Windham joined General Motors in 1994, her duties included multiple vehicle brands with special projects abroad. In 2008, she became the first African-American woman to become a director in the history of GM Design. She also successfully led several award-winning interiors, including the 2014 Chevrolet Impala and the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

Through GM Design’s You Make a Difference program, Windham encourages students to consider higher education and career options in art and design.

Windham is a graduate of the College for Creative Studies (CCS), where she obtained a degree in Industrial Design. She also has an MBA from the University of Detroit-Mercy and is also a member of the school’s MBA alumni board.

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