Apparently not if you’re McLaren. At the McLaren Technology Centre at Woking they do things a little differently – and that means white tiles, bright lights and clean surfaces. Hospital clean surfaces.
‘White is either dirty or clean – there’s no in between,’ explained McLaren Automotive MD Antony Sheriff.
‘If something’s out of place it stands out, if it’s dirty it shows up on a white background. White is clean and clinical and that’s why we use it.’
He’s right there. Walk into the assembly hall for the MP4-12C and anyone would think they’d stepped onto the set of iRobot, not a car production line.
The MTC is an amazing place. Everything has a home, a function and a reason for being there. Sides are clear, surfaces spotless and there’s no clutter. And I mean none.
‘If there’s a problem on the production line and I need to get under the car in my suit, I know I’m not going to get dirty,’ Neil Patterson, the chief designer of the MP4-12C told me.
‘It might look like a surgical procedure in here but we like to think it happens a bit quicker than that! Clean and uncluttered is a McLaren way of thinking – and we like everything here to represent that.’
The whole press conference for the official unveiling of the first in a series of road cars from McLaren Automotive went off with military precision.
From the TV screen that displayed an exact matching pattern to the walls when it wasn’t showing any footage, to the perfectly aligned and square tables in the coffee area, everything about the centre was faultless.
Working for McLaren must be a tough gig though. In a strive for perfection, stress levels must surely be high and working in a white and grey box would probably drive some people a little mad
And that’s before you take into account working for Dennis – the most goal-driven boss around.
‘I think Ron gets an unfair press sometimes,’ one director told me over coffee. ‘It’s true he has an attention to detail, but look at what he’s created with it. Ron is a personal man and likes to keep himself to himself – but there’s a side to him that wants to have fun too.’
Dennis did manage to make the assembled journalists laugh when he reprimanded the McLaren Automotive MD Sheriff for having his hands in his pockets during a photo shoot.
‘Hands out of your pockets Antony,’ Dennis half joked, adding with a wry smile: ‘Remember, it’s the attention to detail that matters.’
With a boss like Dennis, a factory like the MTC and an attitude like that which runs through the marque, I have no doubt the MP4-12C and the two cars that will soon join it in the McLaren line-up will be one of the biggest successes the automotive world has ever seen…