MB nonconformist is a hit with car buyers

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Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR

Design boss Wagener inspiration from classics of the

Automotive News

September 22, — 12:01 am ET

Yes, are cliches about car designers: wear black jackets and they admire Bauhaus and minimalist product design and spend every free at furniture and fashion shows to get

But Mercedes-Benz design boss Wagener takes a different There’s his view of Bauhaus for instance: It has created houses conformed to geometry, not to the needs of

And his take on Dieter Rams, the German industrial designer and of the ultraclean, functionalist Braun electronics products of the 1960s and My admiration knows limits.

in the job since 2008, also he has little tolerance for artsy that is awkward to use. The dresses more like an than a studio artist and he — somewhat surprisingly that he has no modern role when it comes to shaping cars of the future. Instead, says his taste is influenced by European cars of the 1930s.

If there is a direct heritage, it is by vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz the Adler Autobahnkurier, by streamlined and the ‘dropping line,’ he said. to our competitors, we have the shoulder sloping downwards, and that is an from the 1930s, which was a era in automotive design.

There was refinement at that time, a personal expression, and we always to capture exactly that, he

Gorden Wagener joined in 1997 and started out with a His first project was the 2000 SLR concept.

Different from Sacco

sensual and emotional aesthetics with the stark lines and that characterized the Bruno era at Mercedes. The Italian designer Mercedes design from to 1999 and his designs still influence the perception of the brand. shaped models such as the W126 S class and the 1982 190, called the Baby The Sacco cars were for their aerodynamics and technical They displayed little

Benz’s traditionally stark and dashboards will soon be a of the past. The new S class, brimming sensual shapes and high-quality is the vanguard of a strong emphasis on

We will rise to the top of the industry, says.

His approach has its critics.

such as Paolo Tumminelli, who design at the International School of in Cologne, take issue Wagener’s departure from the of Mercedes styling.

Tumminelli says the 2011 Style concept, which several current and upcoming models, was like a fruit He cited up to 17 themes where or five used to suffice.

inside Mercedes, the new styling — described by Wagener as clarity — can be polarizing. A lot of our have more lines they need, one executive Automotive News .

But Wagener has the support of Daimler’s top brass.

the competition a bit boring? rd chief Weber asked in an interview, I think that what is at Mercedes design is really Where people expect we will see clean and quiet but our compact cars like the A are sporty and youthful, and that is people expect from us.

And has another staunch ally in his for more sensual shapes: the

Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR

The new, third-generation A class is sales records in Europe. The CLA rave reviews. In 2011, of the German enthusiast magazine Motor und Sport gave the design award to the C class, CL and CLS. And this year, the CLA won the Bild Design Award, the E class took third despite that German magazine’s quibbles with the new styling language.

Not everybody’s

Wagener doesn’t mind

I have two groups of customers, that buy our cars — and the board, he says. As long as of those groups are enthusiastic, I no problem with dissonant of view.

He likens the brand to There are 50 million different on soccer and on Mercedes in Germany, and is fine. I don’t have to be darling.

Company insiders much of the criticism to wither as new are launched and bring more to the lineup.

Wagener, born in Essen, Rhine-Westphalia, studied industrial at the University of Essen before to London’s Royal College of He then joined Volkswagen, but stay long. VW’s style and Wagener’s visions did not

He joined Mercedes in 1997 and out with a bang: His first was the 2000 Vision SLR concept, morphed into the McLaren SLR production car. Wagener, by Peter Pfeiffer, who became designer in 1999, rose through the ranks.

All of a sudden, whisked out one car after another, a remembers. He became head of exterior design before to California in 2006, where he over the brand’s Los Angeles studio. In 2008, he succeeded as chief designer.

With a of new models coming up, all of them sensual clarity, Wagener has his cut out for him. But there are things are dearer to him than car design: and faith.

He is not shy to speak about it: Believing in God is for me, and it shows me what is truly in our existence. Indeed, the cliches fit Gorden Wagener.

You can reach Meiners at jmeiners@crain.com .

Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR
Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR


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