Peter Anderson | Jun 15, 2012

Eighty-five years ago General Motors Design was created, nearly two decades after the General turned out its first car.

Across those years, GM Design has turned out some extraordinary cars. Some, like the Corvette Stingray and Camaro, and the '57 Chev, are enduring automotive icons. It also created the world's first concept car, the Cadillac Madame X V16.

But along the way, the GM design team has created more than just cars.

The first Design Team leader, Harley Earl, engaged the acclaimed architect and designer Eero Saarinen to design the GM Technical Center, a building listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

The team also created a Kitchen of the Future with Frigidaire in 1956 and was also shown in GM's Design For Dreaming film.

Global head of GM design today, Ed Welburn, says that the best work from his group is still to come.

"Our global team is united around its passion for designing vehicles that make an emotional connection with customers," Welburn said.

"What was true 85 years ago is still true today: a designer's role is to create a beautifully executed exterior with great proportions to draw you in, and an interior environment that invites you into a relationship that develops and grows."

As only the sixth GM design chief in 104 years and the first with global responsibilities, Welburn is responsible for ten design centres and 1900 people.

Some of its more recent efforts such as the Astra and Insignia will soon make their way to Australia wearing Opel badges.

GM's design vision is now to replace 70 percent of its line-up over the next three years.

As part of their own celebrations, Welburn will serve as honorary chairman of the 25th annual EyesOn Design Automotive Design Exhibition to be held this coming Sunday to raise funds for the Detroit Institute of Opthalmology.