Harald Belker (TRAN, ’90)
“I would love to see the idea of mass transportation addressed with some energy.”
A well-known player in the automotive design world, Harald Belker has a roster of design credits including designing vehicles and props for numerous motion pictures. After graduating from Art Center with honors, he landed his dream job designing for Porsche in Stuttgart, Germany. He went on to work for the Advanced Design Studio for Mercedes-Benz in Irvine, Calif., where he worked on the Mercedes Smart Car as well as the S- and M-Class models. In 1997, Belker had the opportunity to design the Batmobile for the film Batman & Robin, kicking off his new career designing for the entertainment industry. His list of entertainment design credits include Batman & Robin, Armageddon, Deep Blue Sea, Inspector Gadget, Battlefield Earth, Spider-Man, Minority Report, XXX and The Cat in the Hat.
What led you to a career in transportation design?
During my senior year at Georgia Southern University, which I was attending on a tennis scholarship, someone gave me a copy of an automotive magazine that featured four design schools including Art Center. And besides its location in sunny Southern California, I liked the talent and designs I saw coming from Art Center. I sent off my portfolio and soon afterwards moved to Pasadena.
What do you see as your most exciting career achievement?
Two movies for which I designed the vehicles. One is from a purely design standpoint, The Minority Report, for which I designed more than 80 vehicles, including the Lexus and an entire futuristic transportation system. Then there is the most exciting movie I’ve ever worked on, Batman & Robin, where I designed the Batmobile. That movie had no limits, creatively or financially, and working on it was unbelievably fun.
What do you think has been the most significant development in the Transportation Design Field in recent years?
Definitely there have been significant strides made in computer and electronic components. But overall, every aspect is making progress, so it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.
Where do you see transportation design going in the future?
We’ll definitely be responding to this momentary fuel crisis. It’s not like we didn’t go through this before in 1974—some companies addressed these issues earlier, and some are just doing it now. So in the short term, we’ll have to deal with higher fuel prices and come up with cars that are more economical. In the long term, I would love to see the idea of mass transportation addressed with some energy. Mass transit is just so inconvenient in the U.S. It needs to be handled in a different way, and with some real thought on how to make it more accessible.
What kind of car do you drive?
For everyday driving I have a 2005 Ford F150 truck, and for fun I drive a 2003 Porsche Carrera 4S.