Design & Style
28 June 2021
Design & Style
28 June 2021
What does a car look like? Of course, the answer will differ depending on when exactly we ask the question: yesterday, today or sometime in the future.
One thing remains constant though: “Design is also seduction,” says Steffen Köhl, head of advanced design at Mercedes-Benz. A car should be aesthetic, speak to our emotions and arouse desire. “We want to create something for people. Something that they like to look at, like to touch. Something they really love.” Their car. Luxury that they can climb into.
Mercedes-Benz has developed a special design language specifically for this promise of luxury: Sensual Purity. That is the underlying message behind both the concept and the philosophy with which Mercedes-Benz has rethought and redesigned automotive luxury for the three sub brands. “Design is holistic. It affects every detail on and in the car,” explains Steffen Köhl. “And here at Mercedes-Benz, we live design like hardly any other brand does.”
Designers at the Sindelfingen headquarters in Germany, along with the four international design studios, work to create innovative exterior designs for Mercedes-Benz and for the Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-EQ sub-brands.
The designers literally sew the dress onto the cars designed by engineers – guided by a template learned over decades: the engine at the front, the boot at the rear, the driver’s cab with seats in between – the “threebox proportion” on which saloons have traditionally been based up to now.
And yet: “Progressiveness also means taking a radical approach to something,” says Steffen Köhl. “Everything starts with proportions.” By this he means the paradigm shift that is currently taking place: the shift from the classic three-box design to a curved, more flowing form.
This is known as the one-bow design, a dream that is being turned into reality for the first time with the new EQS. Replacing the traditional three-part construction, the side view of the all-electric luxury saloon stretches seamlessly along a curved line – harmonious surfaces blending into a single unit.
Köhl and his design team kicked off the electric evolution in 2015 with the F 015 Luxury in Motion show car. Today, just a few short years later, Mercedes-Benz presents the EQS: the real-life adaptation of the Vision EQS, with which Mercedes-Benz opened the door to a new automotive aesthetic at the IAA 2019, and also a study from the Advanced Design division.
The EQS is the polar opposite of the S-Class. “We want to distinguish ourselves visually with the EQ concept, but not divorce ourselves from the cosmos of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy. On the contrary, we want to expand this,” says Steffen Köhl, explaining the design strategy. A difference that, among other things, the world can see in the distinctive face of the EQS: the radiator grille now being obsolete, the designers replaced it with the Black Panel front, a deep black surface with the three-dimensional star pattern between the headlights.
This structural alliance is surrounded by illuminated strips, which are also at the rear. This horizontal light frame is a distinctive EQ design feature. As is staging the vehicles using light and colours.
The designers chose a new colour nuance for the all-electric compact SUV EQA: details in rose gold bring an essential raw material of electromobility to the fore, setting noble accents. This is a reference to rose gold-coloured copper, one of the essential components in a battery.
The deliberate contrasts created in the interior provide a counterpoint to the visual union of sensuous large surfaces and illuminated strips on the exterior: the digital MBUX Hyperscreen in the EQS is an exciting, progressive contrast to the classic materiality of the many interior materials, crafted by the customary impeccable quality workmanship, such as the leather seats with elaborate stitching.
“The designers have more opportunities to create in the interior,” says Steffen Köhl. “Every function, every button, every handle can be reimagined in a completely different way than before. The exterior, however, is more like a sculpture. There are fewer components which we can design.”
The designers created a further element of tension by combining emotionally warm and technoid, cool colours. An unlikely dichotomy that nevertheless comes together to form a perfect whole.
The colours symbolise emotion and mind, heart and brain – emotional intelligence. This is another pledge from the Mercedes-EQ sub-brand. Because driving a car “should still be a sensual, emotional experience; it should feel light, yet at the same time dynamic, crisp and sporty,” as designer Steffen Köhl describes it. “An electric car should be fun. And seductive.”
By Julia Mengler