Last week, Thailand Tatler received the exclusive opportunity to fly to Stuttgart, the location of the Mercedes-Benz headquarters, to attend the Mercedes-Benz Design Essentials II workshops. Launched just last year, this was only the second edition of the programme and first experience for us.
Open only to select international media by invitation, the Design Essentials Workshop is practically a secret one. This year, Thailand was the only Asian nation to attend the workshops—perhaps something to do with the fact that we are the leading market for Mercedes cars in Southeast Asia. The rest of the media present didn’t have to travel as far as we did, except for Canada, the only other media representative from a continent other than Europe.
Hosted at the Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart—which may we remind is a painfully peaceful German city—the premises are under tight security. Whether a visiting journalist or a regular Mercedes-Benz staff, no phones or any other recording devices are allowed, and protocol is followed to utmost precision, as is the German way.
So What Is The Mercedes-Benz Design Essentials Workshop?
The Mercedes-Benz Design Essentials Workshop is essentially a series of presentations about the design aspects of four core Mercedes brands: AMG, Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and the upcoming family of all-electric powered vehicles, EQ. It’s an opportunity to receive the thought processes and aesthetic concepts that went into each of the cars from the actual people who worked on them—the designers. Truth be told, it’s a gruelling five hours of high velocity information downloading. That said, if you have an inherent appreciation for design, you’ll ultimately get something out of listening while being able to examine models that have yet to be launched.
Forget your typical seminar rooms and presentations. As this is a high-profile workshop on design, you can bet that our experience was also thoughtfully designed. Each of the four automobile brands got its own immersive room, fitted with seamlessly integrated LED screens, three-dimensional conceptualisations of design moods and textures and, of course, a real Mercedes car prototype. There were even secret rooms for abstract models. As groups rotated in and out of rooms, we would reconvene in a central open common area that felt much like a museum space as Benz had conceptual sculptures of each of the four car brands displayed here.
The Gist Of What We Learned
Like the rest of us, Mercedes-Benz is exploring future possibilities for its industry, building an understanding how to bring its founding philosophies and sustained craftsmanship into the next generation. After decades of emphasising the channels of “product” and “brand” to deliver its value as a luxury carmaker to customers, Mercedes now includes “digital” as a vital aspect to what they do. Indeed, the most exciting moments in the workshop always revolved around the “bleeding-edge” (more than cutting-edge) technology integrated into the car system, not just in the EQ brand where it is expected but across all Mercedes brands.
Meanwhile, designers at Mercedes look at both emotional (hot) and intelligent (cool) aspects at every point in creation, whether it’s the exterior, interior or systems interface and usability. This dual approach to design is perhaps what makes any Mercedes model so admirable when it hits the market.