Detroit 2010: Mercedes-Benz Design Concept Defines the Term Abstract

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

Taking the idea of a concept car to a whole new level, Mercedes-Benz has just unveiled the new Mercedes-Benz Design Concept at the Detroit Auto Show. Called “abstract” by Mercedes CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, it’s almost like they took a DTM C-Class with it’s imposing front grille that hugs the ground and gave it to Jabba the Hut for a little Han Solo-style cryogenic freezing.

Regardless, it’s meant to give a glimpse at the future of Mercedes-Benz designs, and is described by the company as a sculpture. “It represents a vehicle rising gently from a level plane – as if formed from liquid silver, or like a shimmering cloth draped gently over a new form,” reads the Mercedes press release. “Clear, contoured surfaces are framed by crisp arcs, lending the sculpture an organic appearance that is both retrospective and forward-looking.”

Mock it we may, but the aggressive grille and massively flared fenders foreshadow an impressive new look for the already imposingly luxurious Benz lineup.

GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz Design Concept

Official release after the jump:

Mercedes-Benz Design

Automobile design as an art form – sculpture

* A gem of automotive artistry
* Artistic imagination and the forces of nature

Alongside the E-Class Cabriolet and the SLS AMG, Mercedes-Benz is also treating visitors to the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to a stunning automobile sculpture. It represents a vehicle rising gently from a level plane – as if formed from liquid silver, or like a shimmering cloth draped gently over a new form. Clear, contoured surfaces are framed by crisp arcs, lending the sculpture an organic appearance that is both retrospective and forward-looking.

The sculpture is highly sensuous – an exciting eye-catcher. But it also reinterprets the notion of the car as an art form. “For us, car design is a process of artistic, aesthetically sensuous creation”, says Head of Design Prof. Gorden Wagener. “Mercedes-Benz designers translate their artistic inspiration into the modern Mercedes-Benz design language, which combines excitement with harmony, style with passion. Mercedes-Benz design is clear, calm and coherent, but still emotional and highly sensuous. Mercedes-Benz is the brand best able to present automobile design as an art form in an authentic way.”

As an extraordinary piece of automotive art, the sculpture also uses its flowing, silk-like shroud and the resulting pattern of folds to symbolize the positive and negative curved surfaces of the modern Mercedes-Benz design language. This is characterized by dramatic surfaces with beautifully defined proportions defined by fine lines that begin gently, evolving into crisp contours.

Viewing the sculpture can conjure up many associations. Perhaps a sand dune or a snowdrift; a viscous substance like hot lava or mercury solidifying into an automobile. The sculpture reflects the creative power of nature – flowing elements evolve as the form of a new automobile emerges upwards, making its outline visible with contour and dimension. It shows how natural forms and lines come together to form a sensuous structure on which curving, sinuous lines create emotional contours. This is an aesthetic transformation, shaped by nature and the artistic imagination of the designer.

Inspired by the forces of nature and artistically interpreted, the natural origin of this sculpture also symbolizes the key values of the Mercedes-Benz brand – intelligent technology and quality, sensuous beauty, style, dynamic character and innovative strength for well over a century; coupled with respect for mankind and nature. Mercedes-Benz is one of the few automobile companies able to communicate this credibly as a work of art.

This is also reflected in the shining Alubeam silver paint finish, which interacts with the contours of the sculpture to create a multi-faceted interplay of light and shade. Moreover, this Mercedes color is a reference to the glorious heritage of the Mercedes-Benz brand, while also conjuring visions of the day after tomorrow and the promise of future innovations.

This evocative sculpture was created by Mercedes-Benz Design to show the culture and creativeness of its designers in its five international design studios in Germany, Italy, the U.S., Japan and China – to further their artistic ideals and develop a design for Mercedes-Benz. “Many of our designers come from artistic families, carry artistic ambitions in their genes, so to speak, and found their way into automobile design via their artistic talent,” is how Prof. Gorden Wagener explains the potential.

With this sculpture, Mercedes-Benz provides an insight into the thinking and perceptions of its team of designers and model makers. Although a design idea initially takes shape on paper, it is subsequently modeled in clay. This is sculptural work in its purest form, and highly suited to finding new shapes and creating sensuality. This is how automotive art is created, with enormous attention to detail that also includes interior design and materials.

Designing and modeling at Mercedes-Benz Design has a great deal to do with creativity and artistic work – though art for art’s sake is certainly not the intention of this sculpture! The form of the automobile, presented here in such an artistically exaggerated and cryptic way, is only vaguely perceptible. Nonetheless, the basic proportions challenge the onlooker to decode which future, real-life automobile may ultimately emerge from this creative process. Feel free to speculate, but also to admire.

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