G ut Gorden Wagener and his team have launched one Bringing the original Mercedes back to life. The Vision Mercedes Simplex study refers to the Simplex, which was built from 1902 onwards - but is ultra-modern and exemplarily shows the fundamentals of Wagener's design. It's about a hot core of ultimate love for the product, a shell of cool intelligence and demands for simplicity and sustainability. What sounds like aloof design can be filled with life quite tangibly, as Mercedes designers show on a tour of the new center.
The French government already had the area above Nice in the early 1970s chosen as a development center for advanced techniques. The Sophia Antipolis technology park is a kind of French Silicon Valley. A kind of large glass tube was built there 20 years ago. Mercedes bought this glass building after eight years of vacancy, and the design department was allowed to let off steam there for two years. The rooms have now been set up - including ovens for the modeling clay, clay milling machines and measuring devices for clay models. Clay models? In times of the digital revolution? Yes, they are very important to Mercedes. And so is the digital revolution. For the following reasons.
Clay model and virtual reality
Mercedes is aware that some car manufacturers hardly use clay models anymore - the possibilities of digital visualization are now too good. The Daimler designers do not do without them either. Especially in combination with VR glasses (VR: Virtual Reality), the play of light, details and interiors of a virtual 3D model can be sensationally explored. Vehicle movements are also difficult to represent with a clay model. But: The designers touch a clay model. You stiffen tooself-made scrapers over the clay, feel every shape with your hand and discover unevenness that remained hidden in the virtual model.
Gorden Wagener emphasizes it again and again: The love for the object arises from its sculptural form. A well-shaped body without unnecessary frills arouses desires. Wagener's motto: better one line less. Anyone who has such a sculpture in the design studio also benefits from simple advantages: everyone in the team and on the board of directors who decide on the design knows where the model is. It's easy to show who likes (and is allowed to) can stop by and take a look. The designers can have coffee in his presence, chat and come up with new ideas while looking at the model. Complex, time-consuming and expensive, but an advantage for the final design kick: Gorden Wagener and his team have decided to keep the clay modeling. That is why designers who apply to Mercedes should not only be able to draw project-related and also implement the ideas digitally, but also have a penchant for modeling - after about seven years of practice on clay models, Daimler says you are a good modeller.
Simplicity and sustainability
But the definition of luxury is changing. Gorden Wagener has long since ceased to see Mercedes as a pure car manufacturer, but as a company that designs luxury goods. And luxury is no longer just about the best craftsmanship of the finest materials. Digital content, sustainability and social acceptance have joined them. So there is a department in the new design center that designs digital menu navigation and the appearance of apps. Here's the most important thing: simplicity. Intuitively operated digital menus almost automatically appear a little luxurious. Here, too, omission is the ultimate discipline. If something falls away, there is more space for what is left over. So every day, multitudes of experts tinker with making the growing digital parts of the Mercedes world simpler and, for that reason alone, more chic.
And even if the car customer's call for leather substitutes is currently rather a low beep, the need for animal-free upholstery fabrics could increase significantly in the short term. In the design center, for example, there are prototypes of luxurious interior door panels made of Dinamica. The material is made from 100 percent plastic granulate. This granulate is based on, for example, PET bottles, and in the future it could also be plastic waste fished from the ocean. In any case, the Dinamica material looks high-quality and feels similar to leather. The sheer appearance of surfaces can be simulated and changed with projections from the inside - the Nizza design team is also experimenting intensively with this. Above all, it is said that the look must not appear cheap - after all, because of Gorden Wagener's flair for luxury in top equipment, Mercedes employees have long been talking about the fact that these are 'Ultimate Gorden'class='v-A_-article__inline-container'>
Vision Mercedes Simplex
At the opening of the design center, Gorden Wagener is presenting the Vision Mercedes Simplex as the highlight. Enthusiasts were already out and about in Nice with the original Simplex from the early 1900s - after all, the Côte d'Azur was a high society hotspot even then. At that time, businessman Emil Jellinek, who lives in Nice, competed in car races on the Côte d’Azur under the pseudonym 'Monsieur Mercédès', the first name of his daughter. The new Simplex has no chance of being realized in series, it is only intended as a show car that shows the cornerstones of the future of Mercedes design. The well-proportioned study has hardly any edges and stands under the Mediterranean sun as if cast in one piece. The front grill is more of a mirror and its frame is rose gold plated. The four-spoke rims do not turn, only a ring covered with the tire provides propulsion. Only electric units are used as motors - they drive all four wheels.
The passenger compartment of the two-seater is visually clearly separated from the large engine compartment by a darker paintwork - additionally in the presentationdarkened by a parasol. Operation is reduced to the bare essentials, the cockpit is not paved with screens. The steering wheel looks a bit like a work of art and the steering column is surrounded by a glass tube. The occupants sit on a well-padded and soft-fabric-covered couch, the Chesterfield buttons of which connect with a cozy look and the past. A small design bag hangs behind the passenger compartment at the axle level. This trunk replacement is similar to the luggage of the French luxury goods manufacturer Louis Vuitton, but is a design by the Mercedes designers.
The new design center in Nice is now starting work, but the center for interior design is doing it Lake Como dense. The former Mercedes chief designer Bruno Sacco built it in the 1990s, and 20 employees took care of interior design. In Nice, with 40 employees, twice as many people are working on the Mercedes design future.