"He is a
natural at what he does"
Tom Tjaarda was born
on July 23, 1934. The son of John Tjaarda, a noted stylist whose
creations included the streamlined Lincoln Zephyr of the 1930's.
From Tom's youth it was obvious to those around him that he would
one day become a superlative designer.
While majoring in
Architecture at the University of Michigan, a professor in
industrial design gave Tom the assignment of constructing a scale
model of a sports station wagon. Upon seeing his student's finished
project, the professor was so impressed that he showed it to his
friend, Luigi Segre, the then, head of Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin,
offered Tjaarda a job and, as they say, the rest is history. After
moving to Turin, over the next two years, Tjaarda designed several
production cars, prototypes and show cars.
After spending a year
working on the city of Turin's Italia '61 Design Exhibition,
Tjaarda was subsequently hired by the famed coach building firm,
Pininfarina. Here, several production cars and prototypes were his
designs, including two Ferraris, the Fiat 124 Spider, a Lancia, a
Mercedes-Benz and the one-off show car, the Corvette Rondine.
In 1965, Tom was hired
by OSI-Fergat, where he was involved in the production of automotive
stampings and wheels. When Giorgetto Giugiaro left Carrozzeria Ghia
in 1967, Tom soon found himself back with his former employer, now
as head of design. For the next eight years, he was the styling
force behind numerous, memorable Ghia designs, including two of its
most famous; the sleek, mid-engined DeTomaso Pantera and the Ford
Fiesta economy car.
By the mid-1970's, Tom
had caught the eye of the styling executives at Fiat. In 1977,
Italy's largest automotive concern hired him to run their Advanced
Design Studio. Here, he oversaw the Tipo 4 proposals, the Lancia
Thema, Fiat Croma, and others.
Rayton Fissore became
his new home in 1980. Besides working with Chrysler in Detroit and
Citroen of France, Tom put his stamp on the off-road, sport-ute
market in 1985 with the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4X4, a vehicle that
remained in production well into the 1990's.
In the mid-1980's, Tom
left Rayton Fissore and formed his own company, Dimensione Design,
now known as Tjaarda Design. By properly utilizing his talents and
those of a small, hand-picked group of Turin's top, sub-contractors,
for the past number of years, Tjaarda Design has been able to offer
manufacturers an intelligent, cost effective alternative in the
study and production of design ideas, prototypes and production
- Tjaarda Design
and efficiently responding to a client's desires is key in today's
rapidly changing global marketplace"
- Located in the heart
of Turin, capital to Italy's styling industry, Tjaarda Design was
originally formed in 1985 under the name of Dimensione Design. Since
its inception, the firm has worked with some of the automotive
world's most famous and respected names, from all market sectors.
Included are mass manufacturers such as Chrysler, Saab and Fiat
Iveco. Niche market and performance clients include Aston Martin,
Bugatti and Bitter. Off-road/Sport-ute studies were done for LaForza
and Sermac, while other clients have ranged from America's ASC Incorporated
and PPG to Zastava and Piaggio. All were given timely,
cost-effective solutions to their targeted market and design
- How is Tjaarda
Design able to accomplish this, when production costs seem to spiral
continuously upward? Simply, Tom Tjaarda has long maintained that a
tightly-knit group of talented designers and craftsmen could best
serve the global automotive community, thus displaying a "lean
and mean" attitude similar to that found today in numerous
American corporate entities in this era of downsized corporate
- Such an approach
allows Tjaarda Design to quickly respond to markets that undergo
changes or suddenly open and develop at a rapid rate. Additionally,
for mature markets such as North America, Europe and Japan, studies
and production of high performance motorcars, sport-utes and other
niche vehicles have remained a cost-effective reality at Tjaarda
- At the center of the
firm is Tom Tjaarda himself. The wealth of knowledge he has
accumulated during boom and bust periods of the business cycle over
the past four decades has allowed him to survive and prosper in all
business climates by being particularly responsive to an individual
manufacturer's needs and requirements.
- Tjaarda's lengthy
experience in Turin has also led to a tight association with several
hand-picked subcontractors who understand manufacturing deadlines
and budgets. This allows Tjaarda Design to act incisively as a
sounding board for design studies, develop scale and 1:1 models,
design and build running prototypes, or oversee the production of
limited production and niche vehicles.