The man who designs Mercedes for a living
Imagine if instead of being told that those "awesome" futuristic cars you scribbled in the margins of your school books were not a "waste of time", but rather creative roots that would develop into having one of the most eviable jobs in the world. Taking that into consideration, we obviously took a different path from Gorden Wagener, who seemingly channeled that criticism and would later become the Chief Design Officer at Mercedes-Benz.
Esquire Middle East flew to Germany to catch up with the personable designer to understand why his goal is to ensure that Mercedes are the "world champions" of the luxury car sector.
ESQ: You are credited with creating the ethos of: “sensual purity”. What does that mean?
GW: That is our design philosophy and it expresses an essential aspect of our brand – the bipolarity of emotion and intelligence. The aim of our design philosophy is to create pure and sensual forms and surfaces that showcase high tech while radiating emotional appeal. In a nutshell we call it Hot and Cool. The great strength of our philosophy is that depending on the interpretation we are able to create different luxury worlds for our brands: performance luxury for AMG, the ultimate luxury for Maybach, a world of modern luxury for Mercedes-Benz and a progressive luxury for our new brand EQ.
How cooperative are the design teams across the Daimler group?
We are one design organisation. The design studios worldwide all report to me as the Chief Design Officer and from our headquarter we coordinate all design activities. Cooperation and team spirit is extremely important for us. We´re structured according to design disciplines within our teams. We have an advanced design team, an exterior department, one for interior, one for digital graphic & corporate design and one for design brands & operations.
What made you want to go into car design?
Since was young I loved drawing, doing sketches and being creative. In addition car design is the most complex design discipline among all that is why I decided to go for it. Now I am Chief Design Officer of the most admired car brand in the world and I have to admit, I really love my job!
What are the products you are most proud to have worked on?
Actually, I am proud of every single car my team and I put on the road.
Do you agree with the phrase: “Perfect design is when you sit down and everything is where it should be.”?
That is one part of good design. Beauty is very important. And the other part is intelligence, something unexpected and very high-tech.
How does the feedback and performance of the Mercedes F1 team impact what you do?
Formula 1 and Design have one thing in common: a daily competition for being No. 1. And that´s what we´re aiming for: being world champion in design and the most desired luxury label in the industry.
When designing, do you prefer working on the interior or exterior of a car?
That is hard to tell, but I am happy that as head of design, I can do both.
Imagine you were to create a limited-edition car for the GCC market, which model would it be and what elements would you add to it?
The Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet is a good example. We just built 99 of them and each of them was unique. In terms of color white is definitively wonderful and of course luxury elements especially in the interior are necessary as most of the customers in that area choose to have their individual and personalized car.
Do you draw in your spare time?
Drawing has always been part of my life as I get inspiration from everywhere, be it nature or city. So whenever I find some time I take a canvas and some oil color.
Do you keep your design notebooks?
Of course I keep them, as sometimes I also get inspiration from previous sketches for future models.
What car do you drive?
At the moment I drive a C 63 AMG Cabriolet.
At the moment? So, what is your dream car?
There is no single dream car – it is actually every car I ever did and I am working on with my team.