Roberto Giolito is an Italian automobile designer, Chief Designer at Fiat, known widely for the Fiat Multipla (1998, exhibited at MoMA, New York), and the 2004 Fiat Trepiùno concept — precursor to the Fiat 500 of 2007, voted Car of the Year in 2008 and World Car Design of the Year 2009.
Born in 1962 in Ancona, Italy, Giolito graduated in industrial design from Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche (Higher Institute for Artistic Industries, ISIA) in Rome in 1985. For four years he worked in graphic, communications and furniture design before joining Fiat in 1989.
In high school Giolito played jazz bass, playing in a high school program with American masters including saxophonist Lee Konitz and playing through design school, earning money on the side by teaching music. Giolito continues to play jazz music, and collects vintage vacuum-tube-powered audio equipment.
Giolito has received design influence from a range of sources, including Ettore Sottsass’s Olivetti portable electric typerwriter; an early Apple II computer with which he designed his home as well as a battery-powered car with Chris Bangle — and architects including le Corbusier and Jean Nouvel.
In July 1989 Giolito won a position at Fiat, after responding to an advertisement looking for computer-savy young designers. At the advanced design studio, Giolito penned several concept cars, including the Zic (1994), Ecobasic (2000), and Downtown(2003). At Fiat, he has designed experimental electric vehicles, sedans, sports cars (e.g., Maserati) as well as a farm tractor for New Holland.
In 2001, he was nominated to chief director at Fiat S.p.A. and is currently the head of Fiat & Abarth Design. He continues to work on new small models for the company.
In 1998 he designed the much discussed and highly controversial Fiat Multipla, both criticized and praised, achieving only meager commercial success, and becoming part of the New York MoMa permanent collection. Proclaimed "Car of the Year" by the magazine "Top Gear" and for several consecutive years was awarded the " Family car of the year".
Beginning in 2001, Giolito has directed Fiat's Advanced Design Center: a team of designers, visual communication experts, engineers and independent marketers independent studying alternative mobility solutions.
In 2007, after the introduction of the FIAT 500, his most commercially successful design, Giolito was promoted to Design Chief for Fiat and Abarth. He currently still acts as vice president of the Design Center for the European market for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Giolito is responsible, with Giorgio Blacks, for the FIAT 500 brand, overseeing the 500 family, now including the Fiat 500L and Fiat 500X.