Whenever not trying to produce cars through the 1970s and 1980s, his Cumberford Design International worked in Europe on behalf of clients including Renault and Citroen. Patrick Le Quément, for many years head of design for Renault, remembers meeting the critic shortly after he’d unwittingly fired him — along with all outside consultants — shortly after assuming the role in the mid-1980s.
“I threw out the baby with the bathwater,” says Le Quément, who’s credited with creating the Twingo and the original Ford Sierra. But he and Cumberford made amends. “What I like about Robert is that he is above all a designer who writes and not a journalist who dabbles in design. He understands, what else can I say?”
“Robert has an opening to the real world, to design in general and socio-cultural evolutions,” he said.
It was around this time — 1986 — that Automobile magazine hired Cumberford