Martin Davis Judge
- Design Manager, Exterior Lighting
The origins of Martin Davis’ career as an automotive designer are traced to the front closet of his childhood home in Dearborn, Mich.
“Using cardboard, paper and whatever else I could find, I designed and built a mockup of a car interior in the coat closet in our foyer,” Davis recalled. “I went through several variations of the design.
“Many of the neighborhood kids would ‘drive’ my creations. Alas, I had to remove it because it was a potential fire hazard.”
Today, Davis is a design manager in the Exterior Lighting studio and a vehicle lighting specialist.
“My team is responsible for designing and executing exterior lighting on new vehicles,” Davis said. “We ensure consistent and competitive content and execution, while enabling unique lighting signatures for each brand.
Davis said lighting is an oft-overlooked element in automotive design, yet it offers a glimpse into a vehicle’s character.
“Looking into the lighting of a vehicle can be likened to looking into the eyes of a person,” he said.
During his 15-year GM career, Davis has served in roles of increasing responsibility, including leading design teams for the GMC Acadia and the Cadillac SLS, while also taking on design roles in Europe and China.
Davis said advances in lighting technology have expanded the options available to lighting designers, offering new and exiting ways for them to set cars, trucks and crossovers apart from their competitors. Appropriate lighting, he adds, completes the look of a vehicle just as accessories complement fashion.
“A person wearing a high-quality, stylish suit is only noticed when the suit is complemented by the proper shoes, belt, tie and watch,” he said. “Similarly, my goal is that every vehicle in the portfolio is properly adorned with exterior lighting by driving an appropriately high level of content and execution.
“The exterior detail lamps complete the story told by the design of the vehicle.”