A Conversation with Carrie Fodor - Sea Ray Senior Design Manager
Published on July 13, 2022
Sea Ray’s first-ever all-women design team collaborated to create the new SLX 260 and SLX 260 Outboard.
Carrie Fodor—alongside industrial designer Kristin McGinnis—recently co-developed the new aesthetic and functional design language that debuted with Sea Ray’s new SLX 260 and SLX 260 Outboard models. With her vision already setting the tone for the future, we sat down to get her perspective on the current landscape in marine design and hear what it was like to approach the SLX launch as part of our first women-led design team.
SR: You started off studying auto design, how did you end up designing boats?
CF: I grew up on the Great Lakes, so boating was a big activity for me and my family. There are a lot of transferrable skills between automotive and marine design, so when I graduated, I found a listing for an open position for a designer at Sea Ray Boats, and thought it sounded like something I’d enjoy. I sent in my portfolio and got a call back from Sea Ray management; they had recognized a scale model I had on display at the Detroit Auto Show two weeks before. The next thing you know, I’m packed and heading to Florida to become a Sea Ray boat designer.
SR: Where do you draw inspiration from in your design process?
CF: We incorporate a lot of customer feedback in our design process at Sea Ray; before we start any new design, we look for customers who are willing to interact with us. It’s important for us to understand everything that they use their boat for, where they boat, who they bring with them—everything helps us empathize with their experience that we use to set the tone for the next phase of development.
SR: Do you think men and women tend to differ in their approach to design?
CF: All of us follow the same design process which starts with that customer research. To create a truly great product, we must understand the perspectives of all of our customers, and we use all of the unique and diverse perspectives our team brings to help deliver a compelling product our customers will love. So, I think women bring a valuable point of view that helps the team successfully design boats for all Sea Ray customers that couldn’t otherwise be achieved without us.
SR: What percentage of women are involved in the buying decision?
CF: We’ve always known that women are often the main influencers of the purchase decision, but lately we are seeing more and more women becoming the primary or sole buyers as well. According to Brunswick’s Freedom Boat Club statistics, 35% of their memberships belong to women.
SR: What things do women tend to value more in a boat design than men?
CF: One thing we consistently hear from all of our customers, but especially the women, is the initial attraction to the style, design and detailing of the boat. And when they move into the cockpit, our fashion-forward approach to color, materials, and stitching is quite striking. We also do extensive ergonomic studies to make sure that the comfort and features are suitable for all ranges and sizes of people.
SR: When you started designing boats for Sea Ray in 2008, what was the ratio of women to men in the design department?
CF: When I started, I was the only female industrial designer. Even though our department is relatively small we also have Kristin McGinnis, Senior Industrial Designer, who has been my fabulously talented teammate on the SLX 260 project.
SR: What are some of the new design elements you and Kristen have incorporated into the new SLX 260?
CF: The SLX 260 is the first sport boat to encompass the new Sea Ray visual design language, beautifully sculpted into the exterior design. It also has a new upholstery style with increased comfort, a next-gen power tower, and thoughtful storage features such as dedicated lily pad storage below deck and induction charging options. We focused on integrating function with style to create the most premium sophisticated look with concealed features. We turned up the volume on both style and innovation. Now you don’t have to choose. SLX provides it all – the best functions in the best-looking package.
Interested in learning more about the new SLX 260 and SLX 260 Outboard design language? Compare both models here.