What Drives Her: Meet Hannah Dunbar, The Color and Trim Designer Behind the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate

Hannah Dunbar Of Gmc. Photo- Gmc
Hannah Dunbar of GMC. Photo- GMC

Meet Hannah Dunbar

When Hannah Dunbar attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, she assumed her future career would be graphic design related. Creativity always occupied a solid space in Hannah’s life.

“My mom was always very encouraging when it came to being expressive in terms of art,” she explains. “From a very young age, it was always something that I did. I was much older before I realized that not everyone is interested in art and design.”

Approaching life from an artistic vantage point comes naturally to Hannah. However, she never dreamed her artistic nature would lead to a career in the automotive industry. “A few years after I graduated, my mom sent me a video and a job posting for a car and trim designer position at General Motors Company,” she shares. “When I read the description, it instantly clicked with me.”

Hannah’s mom works as an artist and graphic designer. Her dad’s entire career centers around working for GMC in some capacity. Perhaps it was destiny, or possibly the old cliché of the apple not falling far from the tree, that led Hannah to her current position with its unique blend of art and autos.

Today, Hannah Dunbar holds the title of Creative Designer – Color & Trim for General Motors and was the lead Color & Trim designer on the all-new GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate, the brand’s most luxurious full-size SUV to date.

Hannah loves working with her hands and working with color and various textures. “It’s what I love to do in life, and I love that I get to do that in my career.”

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Hannah Dunbar And The 2023 Gmc Yukon Denali Ultimate

Numerous premium elements find their way to the Yukon Denali Ultimate, such as Vader chrome finish accents. Photo: GMC

The Design Process

In her role as the lead Color & Trim designer for the GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate, Hannah’s responsibilities included selecting the materials, colors and finishes to heighten the Denali Ultimate experience for the consumer.

“We base everything on what we believe the persona of the customer is going to be,” she explains. “I try to put myself in the mindset of the person who’s going to be driving the vehicle.”

Hannah considers the likely activities, hobbies, and products they may have in their lives including clothing and home products. “I take inspiration not only from those objects but also the environment where those things are going to take place.” Hannah also finds inspiration in nature with its rich multi-dimensional colors and textures.

When asked about the noticeably detailed stitching in the cockpit of the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate, she noted, “For something very specific like that stitch with its fine detail, I focus on the smaller details of the anticipated consumers’ life. What type of hand-crafted products would this sort of customer have elsewhere in her life? Perhaps a finely stitched leather bag?”  Take one look at the incredibly detailed touches Hannah designed for this vehicle, and you too will see that finely stitched leather bag.

When your passion becomes your career, it’s a win-win. “Getting to be creative in a place of work for me is fantastic and amazing, and I do not take that for granted at all,” she shares. “I know not everyone who studied art and design gets to do that for a living – I feel very lucky!”

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Interior Design Details Of The 2023 Gmc Yukon Denali Ultimate

The full-grain leather trim washes over the center console storage area. Note the detailed stitching. Photo: GMC

Advice for Women Interested in Automotive Careers

Hannah encourages other women not to shy away from seeking a career in the automotive industry. Despite its reputation as a male-dominated field, things are changing. As a 33-year-old woman, she feels fortunate to have moved into this career field when she did. Around that time (about seven or eight years ago) there was a major shift in the influence of women in automotive.

“Women continue to excel in leadership roles, even executive leadership,” she explains. “I feel fortunate never to have been treated any differently because I’m a woman.”

The Big Reveal

I had to ask Hannah how she feels when her months of work finally reach the consumer.

“I feel like my eyes are lighting up just thinking about it!” she says. “We spend so much time in this building working on this confidentially. The first time we get to see people outside seeing and experiencing the vehicle….this thing we’ve created…I want to wrap it up in a big red bow and ask, ‘Do you love it?’”

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Hannah Dunbar And The 2023 Gmc Yukon Denali Ultimate

The beauty lies in the details of the Yukon Denali Ultimate’s interior. Photo: GMC

Terri Marshall grew up road-tripping around the country. Her love for the open road remains strong today. A travel... More about Terri Marshall