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Interview with Skoda Head of Design: & # 34; The Superb is the flagship & # 34;

Ivo Heric
An interview with Skoda design chief
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D that Jozef Kaban is a slightly different automobile designer, many say in the industry. In order to understand what they mean, it helps a little to stroll through the factory museum in Mladá Boleslav with him. He doesn't make a fuss of the fact that he was significantly involved in the conception and execution of the newly designed premises, but mentions it for the sake of completeness and to explain why it is so familiar to him. 'I am often here at the museum, if only because I am on the board of trustees,' he explains as we walk through the hall to the exhibition room.

The Skoda Group is a big family

Then the first break is announced. A group of visitors, Skoda dealers from Belgium, as it turns out, is standing next to us. One of the group recognizes Kaban, speaks to him and explains to his colleagues who they are meeting. The head of design willingly lets himself be photographed with the visitors, there has to be so much time, Skoda is a big family. He doesn't say that, it speaks from his gestures and the natural friendliness with which he treats the visitors.

The pop star among car designers

If school classes are here, it will still take a while longer because Czech schoolchildren recognize him too. The designer as a pop star? Kaban waves it away. 'As designers, we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously, we don't have to win any design awards,' he says and explains what matters to him: 'It is much more important to competently represent a complex package of technology and design with the car, and this car must fit the brand. ' He feels as at home between the exhibits in the museum as he does in the design center a few streets away.

Mladá Boleslav is a city whose magic is especially open to those who have a weakness for traditional car cities, it is reminiscent of Wolfsburg, Rüsselsheim, Ingolstadt, Dearborn or Mirafiori: shaped by an automobile plant and its buildings and plots determine the cityscape. The heart of Skoda beats here, and Jozef Kaban, born in 1973 in Czechoslovakia, but in the Slovak part of the country, is someone who understands this heartbeat. 'We at Skoda are proud of our Bohemian roots, for example the cut, the interplay of shapes and the cut of the headlights and rear lights are an homage to Czech crystal glass art.' The Skoda Superb is, he says, the most important car that Skoda has so farand regrets that the VisionD study is not here in the museum.

New superb design without compromises

However, the previous VisionC study is currently visiting, and the designer uses it to explain what the new sedan was all about. 'With the Superb design, which is ultimately based on the VisionC study, we are taking a further step in the emotional direction with the Skoda brand, without compromising functionality and space.'

But here, too the designer takes a step back, and by that he doesn't just mean himself, but his entire team of 70 designers from 20 countries. The car and the customers who drive it are more important: 'For us, the Skoda Superb has two functions: First and foremost, it should make the driver happy, but it is also our flagship that represents the brand.'

The traditions are upheld

While he is saying this, we are standing in front of an eight-cylinder Superb from the early 1940s, behind which is a Series 440 Octavia sedan from the 1960s. He doesn't have his own classic car, and that's where Jozef Kaban is different from other designers. That doesn't mean, however, that he doesn't care about the classics: 'The history and tradition of the brand are valuable, it is very important to talk about them.' The world isn't just about cars, I'm interested in architecture, art and many other things. ' Not your typical car designer, no, really not. We'll talk about all the other things later in the museum restaurant over excellent goulash with Bohemian dumplings. The Belgians sit next door, they too eat goulash and dumplings.

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