Mercedes-Benz: The Art of Creating Desire

“Design creates icons that shape the Mercedes myth and inspire desirability”

Interview with Gorden Wagener

Gorden Wagener, one of the most influential automotive designers in recent times, has headed the global design division of Mercedes-Benz and all its brands since 2008. He has been the company’s Chief Design Officer since 2016. His goal is to build the most desirable cars in the world for the brands of the Mercedes-Benz Group. Wagener approaches this ambition with his design philosophy of “Sensual Purity,” which defines the specific luxury of the different brands. His designs set new impulses in luxury and fulfil a desire for beauty and the extraordinary. At this year’s Design Essentials in Nice, France, Wagener and his team will be showing exciting new products and visions of the future – both physical and digital.

Design Essentials are taking place for the fourth time this year. What distinguishes the event?
With Design Essentials, we have established an exclusive platform where we provide insights into current projects, as well as outlooks on future design trends and products. We present a wide range of different show cars and product innovations that have one thing in common: Mercedes’ unique DNA. We also show how our creations come about, what inspires us, and how we continue to develop our design philosophy. As designers, we create the future and always think at least one product cycle – eight to ten years – ahead. We aspire to design the most desirable cars in the world. With Design Essentials, we illustrate how we approach this privilege in concrete terms. The venue – our Design Center in Nice – plays a central role in this. I see it as a creative melting pot where we forge ideas for the luxury cars of the future. The surroundings – the city of Nice itself, as well as the legendary Côte d’Azur – form a great, infinite source of inspiration for our work.

Can you explain in more detail how you, as a designer, specifically awaken or present desire?
Important brands are characterized by their own special style – that’s what makes the difference. The style of our house, which we have continued to refine over the past 15 years, is our design philosophy of Sensual Purity. It is our aesthetic soul and the core of our brand DNA. With it, we have created independent product personalities and given all Mercedes brands an unmistakable appearance. Our design language uniquely combines beauty with the extraordinary. To create tension, we link opposites – this deliberate bipolarity of emotion and intelligence characterizes our designs. Beauty forms the emotional core for us – it has its very own magic. Everything we do must be aesthetic. Beauty fascinates people and exerts a great attraction – all around us: in nature, in art, in fashion – and even in cars. But that alone is not enough for us: We strive to give beauty the additional glamour of the extraordinary. That is what we aim for as Mercedes designers: revolutionary products that touch people emotionally and that people absolutely want to have.

How do you interpret Sensual Purity in concrete terms for the individual brands?
The wishes and demands of our customers are manifold, just like the interpretation of luxury. What people understand as luxury varies from person to person. It is about exquisite materials, quality, the best workmanship, traditional craftsmanship, state-of-the-art technologies, and trendsetting design. We reflect this versatility through our individual brands, which are clearly differentiated from one another in terms of overall appeal, but all bear the signature of our design philosophy of Sensual Purity as a unifying element. Take Mercedes-AMG, for example, where the focus is clearly on performance. AMG models have an emphatically dynamic, sporty character – and sports cars have always exerted a special fascination that also creates a unique desirability. We use design to create clear identities and differentiation for our individual brands by aligning them more closely with the different demands of customers. Maybach is about the pinnacle of the top-end luxury segment. That is why we speak of Sophisticated Luxury here. Mercedes-Benz embodies Modern Luxury of the highest quality. And Mercedes-EQ, our pioneering brand for e-mobility, embodies Progressive Luxury. This differentiation is clearly defined by design.

Mercedes-Benz has always been a luxury brand under whose umbrella many unique icons have been created over the decades – in almost all segments, from the SL to the G-Class. The design creates icons that shape the Mercedes myth and create desirability. We cultivate this heritage in design, develop it further and thus carry it into the future. The show cars of recent years exemplify the continuous development of our design language – the most recent examples are the VISION EQXX and the Vision AMG, which we are presenting as part of Design Essentials this year.

You mention the further development of your design philosophy. Can you give us concrete examples?
Sensual Purity is a leitmotif, but not a rigid frame. Of course, we pick up on current trends and developments. At the same time, we establish new trends ourselves with our design, especially with our show cars, and we deliberately put forth provocative and polarizing designs. We need this extravagance to spark new impulses. A good example of this is our Project MAYBACH, which we developed together with Virgil Abloh.

That development in design goes hand in hand with technological progress. Electrification in particular not only allows different proportions in the exterior, but also new design freedom in the interior. The introduction of state-of-the-art UI/UX systems has also opened up a whole new world for us designers. MBUX shows what is possible here. It sets standards in all areas: technically, in terms of user-friendliness and also in terms of design. MBUX is our greatest asset in the field of digital luxury, which has become increasingly important and is an absolute must when we talk about striving for the optimum. Digital luxury is crucial when it comes to staging the luxury of tomorrow and creating desire.

Currently, our focus is on what we call the X-factor: the surprising and extraordinary element with which we want to exceed our customers’ expectations. One example: We independently create digital art and bring it into the vehicle. But we consciously develop the topic further, now even completely independent of our vehicles. We are moving into dimensions where you would not necessarily expect Mercedes-Benz to be. For us as designers, this opens up completely new perspectives and opportunities to develop our creativity. Let us surprise you.

What innovations will the design team be presenting at Design Essentials this year?
In Nice, we are celebrating the premiere of the Vision AMG. With this design study we are giving a preview of the all-electric future of our performance brand. The Vision AMG shows how performance design is evolving at AMG. As a further highlight, we are showing digital art from Mercedes-Benz for the first time. In this context, we are also announcing our membership in the Aura Blockchain Consortium. As the fifth and final founding member we want to take digital luxury to a new level, side by side with other luxury brands.

We are also presenting two special editions of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class that take Sophisticated Luxury to the next level. The Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh is a monument to our collaboration with this creative designer. Inspired by Project MAYBACH, the vehicle picks up, among other things, on the special two-tone paint finish. With our Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture, we are bringing haute couture to automotive design. This S-Class is inspired by the world of fashion – the finest fabrics and materials provide an exquisite interior ambience. What’s more, it wears a special paint finish that perfectly matches the interior.

“We create memorable and unique experiences that make our brand desirable”

Interview with Bettina Fetzer

Bettina Fetzer has been Vice President for Marketing since November 2018, and in charge of the global marketing and communications activities of Mercedes-Benz AG when they were combined into a single unit for the first time in 2021. With the consistent sharpening of the strategy as a luxury brand, Mercedes-Benz is creating a seamless and personalized customer experience at every point of contact, with both the brand and the products. The focus is on creating unforgettable and unique moments that offer consistent brand experiences across all customer touchpoints worldwide – and thus awaken desire for the brands with the star.

Mercedes-Benz wants to build the most desirable cars in the world. What does that mean for brand communication?
Luxury has been in our genes since the very beginning of our brand, and we will orient our thinking and actions even more towards it in the future. Our understanding of luxury is shaped by the harmony of exceptional aesthetics, pioneering technologies and integrated sustainability. We want to arouse desire at all points of contact with our brand – both physically and digitally. To fulfil this ambition, we promote a consistent brand presence worldwide and create brand-defining moments. To this end, we have combined press and marketing communication in a powerful unit. It allows us to orchestrate our activities in an even more targeted manner across all channels, offering a data-driven, personalized, and seamless brand experience at all contact points worldwide. We want to reach existing and potential customers directly in their cultural living environments and become a credible and authentic part of this living environment. In this way, we can enable a holistic brand experience that fascinates, offers surprising moments, and goes beyond what is expected, thereby arousing desire.

Can you give examples of brand-defining moments and the X-factor?
We regularly look for ways to reinvent ourselves and create unique occasions to connect with our community. For example, we are opening up our brand and paving the way for more co-creation and collaborative projects. They are an essential element in generating creative incentives for our company and, with that, cultural and interactive moments among our customers and fans of the brand. We combine innovation, design, and cultural storytelling. An example of co-creation is our co-operation with Virgil Abloh with three extraordinary vehicles. In this way, we enrich the discourse on luxury and question the status quo. This also applies to our co-operation with the designer Heron Preston. Creating fashion from recycled airbags is an important step in promoting sustainable luxury design. In doing so, we are showing our attitude and making it clear where we stand as a luxury brand: We want to create enthusiasm for sustainable mobility in a credible and authentic way.

That means Mercedes-Benz has left the classic path of automotive communications?
We no longer focus just on the product, but on customers and their wishes and needs. We see ourselves as a luxury brand that offers extraordinary and unforgettable experiences beyond the vehicle. To this end, we are also the only car manufacturer that is a founding member of the luxury Aura Blockchain Consortium. In addition to desirable vehicles, we also want to offer desirable digital luxury that can be experienced beyond the car. We are ready to enter the market for digital art and NFTs to offer new digital experiences and touchpoints to our customers. We are on an exciting journey to open up our brand with interesting projects and experiences. We’re consistently looking for new ways to evolve and interact with both current affairs and our community.

Mercedes-Benz joins Aura Blockchain Consortium to elevate its digital luxury offering to the next level

The Aura Blockchain Consortium enables new strategic opportunities for Mercedes-Benz’ innovative luxury brand experiences through digital art with NFTs (non-fungible tokens), in-car and beyond

Stuttgart/Geneva. Mercedes-Benz becomes the only car maker to join as a founding member the Aura Blockchain Consortium of luxury brands. Other founding members include LVMH, Prada Group, Cartier, part of Richemont and the OTB Group. Aura Blockchain Consortium’s unique collaborative concept “by luxury brands for luxury brands” provides Mercedes-Benz with ready-to-use, cutting-edge blockchain and NFT technology that will raise the customer experience to the next level and further enhance the digital luxury industry. Access to Aura Blockchain Consortium’s blockchain technology also enables Mercedes-Benz to explore new strategic dimensions of digital brand development, such as creating its own original digital artworks as NFTs. Digital art is set to become an important element and one of many use cases of the company’s future while supporting its strategic approach to merge physical and digital products.

The Aura Blockchain Consortium initiative is the realization of a common ambition shared by its international players in the luxury industry. Its goal is to raise standards in relation to innovation, transparency and blockchain technology and increase customer trust in the brands’ sustainable practices and product sourcing.

Future opportunities for digital art in-car and beyond
The Aura Blockchain Consortium unlocks new possibilities for all its members. The NFT solution platform offers the flexibility for adaptation to the specific needs of individual brands. The Aura Blockchain Consortium is pursuing a long-term strategy towards the metaverse and has accelerated its activities in the development of its technical roadmap to include various NFT solutions for luxury brands. A digital certificate of authenticity makes artworks unique, thereby giving them a value that would otherwise not be achievable in the digital world – where content is often widely copied. Creating its own unique digital art, with the option of dropping them as NFTs, is an area of particular interest to Mercedes-Benz Design and opens the door to a completely new range of products. The in-car digital art experience is a significant next step for Mercedes-Benz UI/UX. The launch of the MBUX Hyperscreen with its innovative Zero Layer marked a milestone in usability, fusing functionality with ease-of-use. Meanwhile, the game-engine-powered graphics used in the one-piece display for the VISION EQXX technology program take user enjoyment to the next level with an extraordinary visual experience. Mercedes-Benz is elevating this by incorporating digital art as a personalized surprise factor.

Mercedes-Benz is laying the groundwork for its entry into the fast-growing NFT market. Joining the Aura Blockchain Consortium as a founding member now takes this to a new level. Subsequent drops and utilities are in the planning. To bring NFT collections into its cars and turning them into a personalized immersive art space enriched by light and sound is another strategic layer for the company.

“As a design team we consistently strive to pair beauty with the extraordinary in all dimensions. Therefore we are pushing our digital luxury ambition with Crypto Art, as a new expression of our style and creativity”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “We use digital art to create desire in-car and beyond. Incorporating it into the UI/UX is one future opportunity to differentiate the Mercedes-Benz luxury experience through the joy of the unexpected. It offers exciting potential for our design approach to exceed customer expectations with extraordinary and surprising elements – we call it the X-Factor.”

“At Mercedes-Benz, we are expanding our brand activities to a completely new dimension of digital luxury. With Aura’s cutting edge blockchain solution, we make sure Mercedes-Benz once again sets standard for the automotive industry”, says Bettina Fetzer, Vice President Communications & Marketing Mercedes-Benz AG.

“We are delighted to welcome Mercedes-Benz as our fifth founding member, coming from an entirely new sector of the luxury industry. This is a concrete step towards our overarching strategy to welcome all sectors of the luxury industry. The Mercedes-Benz name has been at the forefront of luxury innovation throughout its illustrious history. We are certain that the team of Mercedes-Benz will make an enormous contribution to our association and the development of a uniquely advanced technology through the significant opportunities offered by our solutions in relation to our activities related to upstream and downstream solutions, as well as to the ones related to NFTs”, says Daniela Ott, Secretary General of Aura Blockchain Consortium.

The previous founding members of the Aura Blockchain Consortium emphasize their delight about Mercedes- Benz joining the Consortium and are looking forward to including them in their unique cross-industry collaboration. As a Consortium, they strive to make blockchain solutions and related technologies easy and available to all luxury brands. Mercedes-Benz is the ideal fifth founding member with its clear and concrete vision and they believe that their contribution will be invaluable considering their knowledge of the luxury motor industry. They are enthusiastic about the exchanges they have had so far with the Mercedes-Benz team and they will appreciate their input in all of our workstreams.

About Aura Blockchain Consortium
The Aura Blockchain Consortium was established in April 2021 by three major luxury players LVMH, Prada Group and Cartier, part of Richemont, and was joined in October 2021 by OTB Group. The luxury groups have joined forces to address the shared challenges of communicating authenticity, responsible sourcing and sustainability in a secure digital format. Aura Blockchain Consortium is a non-profit association based in Switzerland with the purpose to promote socially responsible, sustainable, and customer-centric business practices throughout the lifecycle of luxury products by leveraging blockchain and other technologies. By promoting the use of a single global blockchain solution open to luxury brands of all sectors worldwide, the platform provides consumers with additional information, services, transparency and raises the customer experience to a new level.

Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture combines automotive luxury with haute couture

The new pinnacle of Sophisticated Luxury: close-to-production concept car gives a preview of a new, limited special edition

Stuttgart/Nice. A tailor-made creation, built using fine materials with the most exquisite craftsmanship: inspired by haute couture, Mercedes-Maybach is expanding its model portfolio with an exclusive and limited special edition. The close-to-production Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture combines the aesthetics and craftsmanship typical of the brand with unusual, fashion-inspired color and material combinations – such as bold nautical blue contrasting with a light, shimmering rose and elegant crystal white. Exquisite nappa leather combines with high-quality bouclé fabric and particularly stylish trim elements. Similar to the principle of the limited high-fashion collection, the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture heralds a new era of exclusivity for the tradition-rich brand. The model will be brought to market in early 2023 in a strictly limited edition.

“The color and equipment concept of the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture has never existed before. We’re fusing the art of high fashion and automotive design at the highest level to create something completely new – a true Icon of Excellence,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “The Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture embodies our style of ‘Sensual Purity’ in a new, extraordinary way. It combines beauty and unexpected, extraordinary details that appeal to all the senses.”

“The Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture provides a concrete preview of an all-new, highly exclusive and limited edition. Mercedes-Maybach has always been considered a pioneer in defining luxury, style and status. Maybach customers are looking for something special and our ambition is to exceed their expectations. With the Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture special edition, we are realizing our claim to leadership in the high-end segment and combining the world of fashion with the automobile. The result represents the absolute pinnacle of Sophisticated Luxury,” says Daniel Lescow, Head of Mercedes-Maybach.

The exterior of the concept car is characterized by a particularly exclusive two-tone paint finish: the upper part and the forged wheels typical of Maybach are finished in dark nautical blue. The lower part and the sides shine in a light, shimmering rose. The sensual and unusual color combination sets the stage for the true showpiece on the automotive catwalk – the interior.

A bespoke interior inspired by haute couture
The combination of consummate craftsmanship, high-quality materials and extraordinary details creates a new level of exclusivity. The color and material concept is reminiscent of the world of haute couture. The exciting contrast of radiant white and dark nautical blue creates a sensual yet technically modern atmosphere. The seats, the armrests, the lower part of the instrument panel, the steering wheel and the roof lining are upholstered in crystal white nappa leather. Another highlight is the generous, lacquered trim element on the dashboard support in white chrome look with rose gold-colored flowing lines. It is stylishly framed in rose gold, thus underlining the ultimate luxury of the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture. Further accents in rose gold can be found on the center console and the Mercedes-Maybach badge at the rear. The radiantly bright look is interspersed with nautical blue nappa leather on the window frames and along the beltline. A special detail is a stylized star pattern in light grey printed on the leather on the instrument panel, doors, headrests, and in the headliner. It shows the perfect fusion of the traditional material with modern technology. The extravagance of the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture is further emphasized by white faux fur which is used in the door pockets, inlay mats and scatter cushion.

The white and blue leather combination sets the stage for another unexpected contrast in the spacious rear with two individual seats. A haute-couture-inspired, high-quality bouclé fabric in blue, beige, rose gold and gold hues embraces the passengers in the rear and sweeps in an arc down to the door. Subtle flashes appear elsewhere in the interior – for example on the seats and scatter cushion.

MBUX visualizes the feeling of catwalk glamour
The MBUX infotainment system picks up on the splendid exclusivity of the interior. It visualizes the catwalk atmosphere with a variety of accents in shimmering rose gold. The home button is a continuously visible element on the display, discreetly enhanced by a ring of rose gold and the Mercedes-Maybach logo. In the profile selection menu, the driver is greeted with a magnolia blossom and sparkling particles. They can create their own Haute Voiture profile picture from twelve different avatars. The avatars are adorned with fine accessories and elegantly dressed, for example in a dinner jacket, tailcoat or evening gown. A graceful animation of glittering particles and the Maybach logo accompanies the start-up process for each personal profile. Sparkling glitter clouds run thematically through the home screen and other menu views and are complemented by subtle, high-quality accents that digitally quote the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture.

Exclusive bag and outfits made from original materials of the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture
To accompany the Concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture, the designers have created a barrel bag in different sizes along with two outfits – all handmade from the original materials of the vehicle interior. They underline the connection of the Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture with haute couture and further elevate the holistic luxury experience. The bag picks up on the unusual combination of nappa leather and bouclé fabric. The outfits combine this extravagant textile with various fashion materials in a particularly glamorous way. The striking bouclé fabric was crafted into a ladies’ suit consisting of a tailored jacket and a short A-line skirt. Complementing the first outfit as part of a complete set is a delicate lace dress that takes its inspiration from the contrasting materials used in the interior of the concept car. The second outfit consists of a modern mock neck top also made of bouclé. It is rounded off by a long skirt with a train.

Project MAYBACH and the Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh

An electric off-road coupe and the ultimate legacy car – how Mercedes-Maybach and Virgil Abloh reinterpreted design and luxury

Stuttgart/Nice. For more than a century, Mercedes-Maybach has set the highest standards for automotive luxury. The collaboration between Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Mercedes-Benz Group AG, and the artist, architect, creative director, fashion designer, and philanthropist Virgil Abloh – who died in November 2021 – continued this tradition. Driven by a shared passion to enrich the discourse of luxury design, the duo teamed up to create two unique vehicles: the Project MAYBACH show car, which shows the possibilities of future design for electric vehicles, and the recently launched Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh inspired by it. A Capsule Collection designed by Virgil Abloh and Off-White™ as part of Project MAYBACH complements the S-Class Special Edition, which is limited to 150 units.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we have created in a total of three collaborative projects with Virgil. Project Geländewagen set the benchmark for fashion and automotive collaborations in 2020 with our iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Last year, we really broke new ground together with the Project MAYBACH show car, which carries the important heritage of Mercedes-Maybach into the future. And the new Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh that is now available, exemplifies the symbiosis between innovative design and ultimate craftsmanship”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

“Teaming up with Virgil for Project MAYBACH was a unique and inspiring journey in pursuit of Mercedes-Benz’s idea of zeitgeist, co-creation and contemporary luxury”, says Bettina Fetzer, Vice President Communications & Marketing Mercedes-Benz AG. “Developing purchasable elements from the collaboration with Virgil was key for both parties regarding the future of our cooperation. The Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh and the Capsule Collection create a truly exceptional customer experience and we are honored to present them”.

Project MAYBACH: “Sophisticated Luxury meets Outdoor Adventure”
First presented at the Rubell Museum during Miami Art Week in December 2021, Project MAYBACH heralds a new era of exploration – inviting the world to rediscover the great outdoors with a fresh perspective. It brings the myth of Maybach into today’s cultural zeitgeist. Gorden Wagener and Virgil Abloh have interpreted the brand’s luxury function with a visionary design language and pushed the boundaries of function, style, and collaborative creativity. The two-seat, battery-electric, off-road coupe combines huge Gran Turismo proportions, large off-road wheels, and distinctive attachments. The X-factor of Project MAYBACH results not only from its breath-taking size – almost six meters long – and characteristics, but above all from its unique contrasts; most notably through its balanced Sophisticated Luxury meets Outdoor Adventure design motif.

A design unlike anything ever developed by Mercedes-Benz, every element of Project MAYBACH was built from scratch. The great outdoors is imbued in the design motifs such as the large wheels with their coarse tire tread and 17″ rims, its mud-flaps and roll cage, and its four additional vehicle-integrated lighting units with their technoid design, all mounted on powerful, Colorado-beige brackets. The roof rack not only protects the vehicle occupants but is also large enough to attach a roof tent as desired, creating yet another gateway to the great outdoors. The color concept emphasizes a utilitarian, pure and monolithic style through its earthy sand tone. More at home in the mountains than Rodeo-Drive, Project MAYBACH imagines how far the typically city-dwelling brand can be pushed for the utmost in luxury adventure experiences.

However, the iconic design motifs of Maybach are not lost. Its Colorado-beige side flanks are encompassed in the black panel look of the vehicle body like a jewel, in an iconic Maybach two-tone color scheme. Along with the headlights and protruding taillights, the vehicle’s nose, located behind a large glass panel, gets a futuristic touch, too – a modern reinterpretation of the renowned Mercedes-Maybach grille. A tightly cut coupe roof rises from the sensually designed chassis to merge with flowing surfaces into a bow-tail rear end. The chrome strip integrated in the center of the hood, which continues in the rear window as a brake light insert, transports the genes of Mercedes-Maybach.

Complete creative freedom, unshackled from production constraints, enabled the design teams to conceptualize what the future of luxury electric travel could look like. Under the transparent surface of the show car’s hood are solar cells that increase the imagined range of the Project MAYBACH.

“Our Project MAYBACH embodies the perfect combination of state of the art off-road capabilities and an extraordinary Maybach identity, defining the next level of luxury like we already did 100 years ago”, says Gorden Wagener. “With the project’s futuristic design we captured the spirit of the times and interpreted it in a visionary way. It creates desire by combining a beautifully seductive sculpture with the most extraordinary proportions we’ve ever created.”

Purist yet practical interior
The monolithic color concept continues with the show car’s sandy interior. Intricate jewelry details punctuate the purist interior theme, which was conceived to hint at both the traditional luxury world of Maybach and a modern vision of luxury utility inspired by modular, utilitarian hotels in Japan. The balance of these two visions can also be seen in graphite grey functional details – stressing the car’s utility-driven character. Precious polished aluminum accents link the car to Maybach’s 100 year design history. The vehicle’s signature interior material is a sustainable leather, tanned naturally with coffee shells to ensure the lowest environmental impact.

A purposeful approach to space – cementing the interior’s modular inspiration – allows the oversized seats to be folded up and removed from the vehicle with a handle, to be carried like a suitcase – minimizing Project MAYBACH’s indoor and outdoor boundaries and reinforcing the concept of bringing luxury to the outdoors. The possibility of a more refined “inside” overnight experience is not forgotten. Fine, hand-died cotton and locally sourced wool are woven to create a Jacquard houndstooth finish, which serves the dual purpose of acting as a seating headrest as well as a luxurious blanket that can be unrolled for use during an overnight stay. The seats can be fully reclined to be transformed into a spot to sleep, with rear compartments opening up to provide a bed extension. Ultimately, the vehicle is transformed into a hotel room complete with a reading lamp – the simple and extremely reduced architectural surfaces of the vehicle help to create a sense of quietness and tranquility. Nothing distracts from the car’s purpose – experiencing nature in all its facets.

A contrast between the tradition of Maybach and the technological advances of Mercedes-Benz is central to the Mercedes-Maybach brand, and Project MAYBACH takes this duality to entirely new levels. The clean and functional dashboard, for example, epitomizes the interior’s simple look; when rotated 180 degrees, it reveals a huge screen with access to a unique computer game developed specifically for the collaborative show car project. Players can test their virtual driving skills using the car’s steering wheel and pedals.

Limited Edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh: the ultimate legacy car
The special edition of the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class inspired by Project MAYBACH was created by a highly specialized customization and craftsmanship team at the Mercedes-Maybach Manufaktur in Sindelfingen. The exterior of the fully equipped sedan S 680 features the unique two-tone color scheme created for Project MAYBACH. While the upper part of the vehicle is lacquered in a glossy obsidian black, the lower part, side flanks, and special forged rims are painted in a sandy hue.

The highest levels of craftsmanship continue inside the vehicle with an identical two-tone color scheme. The four-seat configuration, steering wheel, doors, lower dashboard, and ceiling are lined in black and sand- colored nappa leather, complete with sand-colored decor trims and strips. The high-pile floor mats are black with a sand-colored leather border and embroidered Mercedes-Maybach logo. To enhance its monolithic appearance, the window frames are painted, and a special Mercedes-Maybach and Virgil Abloh logo is inscribed on the middle of the piano-black center-console, rear cushions, head restraints and door-sill panel.

Unique to the limited-edition Maybach by Virgil Abloh is a bespoke user interface, which presents the driver with an even more luxurious variation of the Maybach MBUX suite of cutting-edge technologies. Handpicked visual elements are used to enrich the digital content: from a home button with colored border and brand logo denoting the edition, to profile pictures decorated with luxurious fashion accessories. The result is an even more intuitive vehicle that exudes the limited edition’s distinctive style inside and out – elevating every moment the driver spends on the road.

All customers will be given a special custom-made wooden box covered in sand-colored nappa leather and emblazoned with the Mercedes-Maybach and Virgil Abloh logo. The gift box contains a 1/18 scale replica of the limited-edition car, the two car keys, and a carabineer hook. In addition, a special car cover featuring the Mercedes-Maybach and Virgil Abloh logo will be gifted to customers.

Capsule Collection in the colors of the limited S-Class
The Capsule Collection, which was launched along with the vehicle in early April, was designed by Virgil Abloh together with Off-White™, in connection with Project MAYBACH. It comprises of sand-colored vintage-washed cotton t-shirts and half-brushed cotton-fleece crewnecks and hoodies, as well as canvas baseball caps and racing gloves crafted in canvas, neoprene, and suede – all coated with a black spray effect and embroidered.

About Virgil Abloh (1980–2021)
Born in Rockford, Illinois, Virgil Abloh was an artist, architect, engineer, creative director, artistic director, industrial designer, fashion designer, musician, DJ and philanthropist. After earning a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he completed a master’s degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago. At IIT, while studying a design curriculum devised by Mies van der Rohe, Abloh began to craft the principles of his art practice. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago presented a major traveling survey of Abloh’s work in the summer of 2019 – one of the most visited exhibitions in the museum’s history. Abloh was the Chief Creative Director and founder of Off-White™ and Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton.

VISION EQXX – a living sculpture with the world’s best aerodynamics

Pure, sensual design language and sustainable materials

Stuttgart/Nice. Research prototype and design icon in one: With the VISION EQXX, Mercedes-Benz has doubled down on its pioneering role for the future of electric mobility. Its range of more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a single battery charge makes it the most efficient Mercedes since the invention of the automobile. Crucial to the ultra-low energy consumption of less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers is the resolute exploitation of all potential efficiency – from the powertrain to sophisticated aerodynamics, making possible an extremely low drag coefficient of cd 0.17. At the same time, the design of the VISION EQXX underlines Mercedes-Benz’s claim to build the world’s most desirable electric cars. The design philosophy of Sensual Purity has been rigorously implemented and further developed. The VISION EQXX thus also opens up perspectives on the future design language of the brand with the star.

A team of exterior, interior, and UI/UX designers focused on electric mobility was responsible for the design of the VISION EQXX. The result is the research prototype for the all-electric future of Mercedes-Benz. “The VISION EQXX is the result of close cooperation between design and aero-engineering at the highest level. For us, the aerodynamics of the VISION EQXX – the best in the world – embodies the perfect fusion of technology and beauty. Through our philosophy of Sensual Purity, we have created unique proportions that combine aesthetics with efficiency. In the interior, we stage the beauty of purism and provide a glimpse of sustainable physical and digital luxury,” says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

VISION EQXX – symbol of the transformation of Mercedes-Benz
The VISION EQXX impresses with its elegantly flowing form. Its body surfaces run harmoniously from the front to the rear and develop powerful and sensuous shoulders above the rear wheel arches. This natural flow ends in a clearly defined, aerodynamically perfect breakaway edge. Painted in Alubeam Silver, the body integrates the smooth-surfaced dome of the Greenhouse and flows elegantly to the rear like a drop of water. The retractable rear diffuser is an impressive example of design and aerodynamics working in unison. It deploys at 60 km/h (37 mph) to reduce drag and increase stability. When retracted, it blends seamlessly with the car’s bodywork and maintains the balance, proportions, and lightweight aesthetics of the rear end.

“The VISION EQXX is a living sculpture with movable aero features on the body. It is literally ‘transformable,’ illustrating Mercedes-Benz’s transformation into a purely electric company,” says Steffen Köhl, Head of Advanced Exterior Design at Mercedes-Benz.

The front, with its comparatively small surface, is also a real eye-catcher. Above the glossy black air intake with rose gold accents, a band of light flows into the energy-efficient headlights, which are reminiscent of those of the EQS. Each headlight consists of two star-shaped elements, with the larger element focusing both the low and high beams behind a glossy center lens. This arrangement, paired with the 2D star pattern of the front bumper, gives a glimpse of the front-end design details of future Mercedes-Benz models.

New interior aesthetics – the luxury of purism and sustainable materials
The VISION EQXX signals the start of a new, emphatically purist design style that also reflects the idea of efficiency in the interior. Instead of complex voluminous bodies, a few modules dominate, making lightweight construction visually tangible – for example through exposed lightweight structures. Sustainable materials and organically designed details convey lightness and luxury. The basic principle is: maximum comfort and style with minimum weight – and without animal-based products. “The VISION EQXX gives a concrete preview of what luxurious efficiency in the electric-digital age looks and feels like: sensual design and intuitive operation, complemented by forward-looking, digital technologies, and sustainable materials. This is electric long-distance mobility in typical Mercedes style,” says Hartmut Sinkwitz, Head of Interior Design at Mercedes-Benz.

Numerous innovative sustainable materials are used in the interior. For example, the door pulls are covered with a high-strength, bioengineered silk-like fabric. The seat upholstery is made of an animal-free, cactus- based leather alternative produced from powdered cactus fibers combined with a sustainable bio-based polyurethane matrix. It has an exceptionally supple surface that is extremely soft to the touch. Seat cushion details are made from another animal-free leather alternative that is biotechnologically produced from mycelium, the root-like structure of fungi. The carpets are made of 100 per cent fast-growing bamboo fiber, which also offers a luxurious look and feel.

User Interface/User Experience – a whole new level of digital luxury
The VISION EQXX also pioneers a radical new software-driven UI/UX approach that takes digital luxury to a whole new level. It demonstrates the potential of user interfaces based on a “game engine” with novel graphics and a highly adaptive design. The user interface shows how real-time graphics open up new digital possibilities. For example, for the first time it is possible to enjoy animated digital art in a car. In addition, the UI graphics react instantly to the driver’s needs and bring the real world into the vehicle. This fusion of man and machine creates a partnership between car and driver. The increasingly seamless relationship is further facilitated by intuitive interaction via the highly efficient yet visually stunning one-piece display.

The completely seamless display stretches 47.5 inches from one A-pillar to the other. With 8K resolution (7680 x 660 pixels), the thin and light mini-LED display acts as a portal connecting the driver and passengers with the car and the outside world. It offers comprehensive zoom and scroll functions – from satellite view to 3D city display. It thus offers the user amazingly clear, precise, and intuitive route guidance. A “Star Cloud” avatar, visually reminiscent of the brand’s namesake, Mercedes Jellinek, is the tour guide. It adapts to the driver’s needs, takes care of the passengers, and makes the journey a luxurious experience. The system manages information to ensure that the driver gets exactly what they need at the right time.

The EQS SUV – redefined SUV luxury

Dynamic proportion, innovative aesthetics and sensual purity

Stuttgart/Nice. The EQS SUV is the first all-electric premium SUV from Mercedes-EQ. The innovative and holistic design is based on a new vehicle architecture. It differs from vehicles with internal combustion engines at first glance: highest demands on function and aerodynamics are combined with innovative aesthetics in the unmistakable purpose design. Sensual Purity is reflected in generously modelled surfaces, reduced joints and seamless transitions (seamless design). Even as a seven-seater, the EQS SUV impresses with its dynamic proportions.

The front is combined into a ‘Black Panel’ unit. Headlamps connected by a light band and the deep black radiator grille (Black Panel) form the face. While three light dots form the striking daytime running light signet on the EQS Sedan, there are three small triangles on the EQS SUV. Another special feature is the structured surface of the light modules illuminated from behind: A three-dimensional hexagon pattern in combination with the daytime running lights ensures recognition. LED High Performance headlamps are standard, DIGITAL LIGHT with light band is available as standard equipment.

The exclusive look of the Black Panel radiator grille with the central Mercedes star is further enhanced with a three-dimensional star pattern (Mercedes-Benz Pattern). This references the original star of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft company, which was registered as a trademark in 1911. In addition to its unique look, there is also a function behind the Black Panel surface: the various sensors of the driving assistance systems such as ultrasound, camera and radar are integrated. Seamless design is particularly evident in the front design with the reduced joint pattern and an overlapping hood. The front hood underlines the dynamics of the EQS SUV with power domes.

Striking lines
The dynamic silhouette defines the side view of the EQS SUV and demonstrates its aerodynamic efficiency from afar. It begins with the round front end, flows dynamically over the steeply raked A-pillar and the roof contour to the rear spoiler. This is always black, which reduces the visual height of the vehicle in profile. The C-pillar is moved far back to highlight the spacious interior. The side window surface is generously framed by a three-dimensional chrome strip. The large wheels in dimensions from 20 or 21 inches, together with a muscular shoulder section, give the EQS SUV a sporty, robust character. Most wheels are extremely optimized in terms of aerodynamics and contribute to the overall efficiency of the car.

The exterior mirrors sit on the shoulder for aerodynamic and aeroacoustics reasons. The SUV-typical wheel arch claddings are black, as are the side sill panels, which reduces the visual volume of the vehicle. A running board is optionally available, which also offers aerodynamic advantages and thus has a positive effect on the electric range. On EQS SUVs without this special equipment, a three-dimensional chrome trim structures the lower area. Flush door handles and panoramic sunroof are standard equipment. It consists of two modules that together form a very large glass surface and thus ensure a lot of transparency and light in the interior.

Light band with LED lamps in 3D helix design
The highlight at the rear is the elaborately designed interior of the LED lights. The elements of the tail light have the shape of a curved 3D helix. In combination with the light band, this results in an unmistakable light signature for Mercedes-EQ.

The tailgate merges smoothly into the bumper. The color of black wheel arch linings continues in the lower area of the rear bumper. Below it is a high-quality chrome element in diffuser look and with an aerodynamically optimized spoiler lip on the underbody.

Luxurious and avant-garde interior design
In the interior, the EQS SUV combines a particularly generous sense of space with a luxurious and avant-garde interior design. The designers focused on consistent digitalization. The MBUX Hyperscreen (standard for the 580 4MATIC), impressively implements this: the entire instrument panel is one ultimate widescreen. The real glass appears to extend three-dimensionally across the entire width of the vehicle in a wave-like pattern. The high-resolution screens merge seemingly seamlessly under the shared glass cover.

The vent band spans across the entire width at the top and is very slim. These extreme proportions, together with the glass wave of the MBUX Hyperscreen, create the avant-garde architecture of the cockpit. The dominant outer vents have a turbine design. They deliberately play on the theme of hyperanalogue through the contrast between high-tech precision mechanics and digital, glass display world. The intricately designed turbine blades distribute the airflow efficiently.

The front section of the center console joins the instrument panel and is free-standing in space. It is a visual reference to the new drive architecture – due to the electric powertrain, no transmission tunnel is necessary. Because the distance to the center console is greater, the high-quality stowage tray in the center of the footwell offers more space for accessories than its counterpart in the EQS Sedan. Flowing leather surfaces with intricate seam patterns create a lot of stowage space in combination with a large cover made of real wood. The visual impression is both modern and luxurious. Models not equipped with MBUX Hyperscreen have a slightly different center console. There is a plush armrest in the rear section. It is first visually interrupted before being transitioned into the floating central display.

The design of the door panels borrows from the interior design of modern living spaces. Doors and their center panels emerge from behind the dashboard, spanning the entire space. A surface-mounted modular body floats like a sideboard in front of the door panel. It accommodates all necessary door elements such as armrest, door module, handle and side pocket. Circular ambient lighting completes this floating, avant-garde aesthetic in the dark.

Color & trim: avant-garde and tradition for a special ambience
Technologically pioneering as well as traditional materials and colors lend the interior a unique atmosphere. The modern, delicate NEOTEX structure combines the look of nubuck leather and high-tech neoprene. It is found on the instrument panel and armrests. Seven coordinated color combinations in the interior emphasize the generous sense of space. The EQS SUV is immersed in a progressive and luxurious color scheme of warm and cool tones. Colors such as sable brown-neva grey and space grey-macchiato beige add the finishing touches to the soft and emotive design.

The trim parts make a decisive contribution to the aesthetics in the EQS SUV, including the new innovative wood trim elements with aluminum inlays with Mercedes-Benz pattern. The star pattern is lasered into open- pore magnolia wood. A stainless steel sheet is pressed on from the back and pushed through the star-shaped design – the modern interpretation of an inlay with a quality and precision previously unknown in this segment. The anthracite 3D relief look trim elements with fine metal pigments and laser cut, backlit trim with Mercedes-Benz Pattern, also provide a unique ambience. The star pattern is lasered into the plastic trim and is adaptively backlit. Wood trim elements are also available, for example, anthracite natural grain linden wood or natural grain walnut ship’s deck wood.

UX design: multiple display styles and modes to choose from
The MBUX Hyperscreen is available as a high-end feature. It shapes the display world in the cockpit area. The driver, central and passenger displays merge into one. During the opening animation on the screens, the new Mercedes-EQ trademark appears on the central display for a few seconds: a highly stylized blue laurel wreath encircles the lettering of the Mercedes-Benz electric brand.

The functional content and operating structure correspond to the EQS Sedan and are adapted to electric driving. Visually, all graphics are designed in a consistent blue/orange color scheme. The classic cockpit display of the two round dials has been reinterpreted with a digital light sabre in a glass lens. All content relevant to driving can be accessed between the round dials. An alternative display mode to the two tubes is the “Pure EV” mode: A 3D performance bar graph emotively and impressively conveys the respective driving status (Drive, Accelerate, Charge). The central object here is a “G-force puck”, which dynamically moves freely in space in line with the acceleration forces.