Interview with Ryan Nagode, Laramie Limited Designer

The Laramie Limited is all about luxury design, and for that we have Ryan Nagode to thank. Nagode, Chief, Dodge/Ram/Fiat Interior Studio, Product Design Office at Chrysler Group LLC, sat down to chat with RamZone about the inspiration behind the stylish addition to the Ram Trucks lineup.

RamZone: Tell us a bit about your background in design and how you became a designer for Ram Trucks.

Nagode: I grew up outside of Buffalo. My dad was a toy designer, and being in that atmosphere, design rubbed off on me. I graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and while I was in school I interned at another auto manufacturer and at Fisher-Price. Chrysler does a car class on Saturdays in Cleveland, so as a student you really have to work it into your schedule. I was interested, I worked it in, and I’ve been with Ram Trucks for nine years now.

RamZone: Tell us a bit about your job. What is your work day like?

Nagode: In 2009 we redesigned and changed the culture, with an added focus on detail. We formed the interior design studio. I interface with other designers and managers to figure out where we want to go. From our side we create exterior and interior design. We work on what we can to start, gestate on certain details, theme out the truck, hand sketch it, then do it digitally to show the design to upper management. We also do clay work, and we have full-size foam models.

RamZone: How was the Laramie Limited born, or how did it spinoff from the Laramie Longhorn?

Nagode: We knew the appetite for luxury was there, based on demand. We said, “let’s do a truck without the western flair, but with all the premium features consumers want.” The Longhorn is opulent, and this time we wanted to do something sleek and simple, with limited badging, piano black accents, and seats like tuxedos. And since our interiors are modular, it was relatively easy to make the switch from Longhorn to Limited.

RamZone: Do you have a favorite feature on either the Laramie Limited or Longhorn?

Nagode: I love the Longhorn buckle and still love it on the Limited. It’s unique to see that level of detail on a truck.

RamZone: As an artist, from where do you draw your inspiration?

Nagode: I look to fashion on interiors. We have a whole team that goes to fashion sessions and researches industry trends. In Detroit we need to immerse ourselves in other cultures. And one image can spur a design element, which you can then repeat and carry over thematically throughout an entire vehicle.

RamZone: Can you give us an example of a small element that spurred a big design?

Nagode: I bought a belt buckle on a trip to Texas, and I discovered there was a screw in the back so I removed the center cross and replaced it with a silver Ram logo from my desk. That piece stayed in my mind, and eventually helped spawn the Laramie Longhorn. I also recall buying a pair of shoes with etching and I thinking, “We have to do that.” No one is doing laser etching in auto, so it’s exciting to have a team that fights for cool design, and it’s cool to see the fashion elements spread throughout the truck.

RamZone: Finally, how does it feel to see one of your design concepts come to market, in the real world?

Nagode: It feels like Christmas to see the trucks.