The automotive interior, once relegated to beginners in the styling center, is becoming the designer's new frontier, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Cars are getting more and more functional, and the exteriors aren't making the personality and lifestyle statements they used to," said Ken Okuyama, chairman of the transportation design department at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. "We are getting into a new phase in which the interior is becoming more important and the exterior more neutral." That might sound blasphemous, coming from a designer who worked on the forthcoming Ferrari FX and the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette. But those are specialty cars, Okuyama said, and there always will be a place in the world for niche models that make statements. However, in the mainstream auto market, he said, splashy exteriors come and go. The cycle has turned to cocooning, with auto buyers, especially in the fast-growing U.S. luxury market, more concerned about their immediate environments than the images their vehicles project to those looking at the outside, according to the Times.