Form follows function—that’s not only true for all
The room is as large as a gymnasium. And it is at least as spartan. The walls are uncompromisingly white. No pictures, decorations, or color. The lighting elements on the high ceiling emit the same diffuse light as on a slightly cloudy summer day. The floor is dark gray. That’s it. But this nothingness is everything.
The head of Style
The floor is dark gray—because this color is very similar to the color of asphalt. And the light does not shine brightly like on a perfect day at the beach—because the human eye can evaluate shapes better under a lightly clouded sky. It’s also no coincidence that all of the future sports cars will be presented in the same color. Comparability is key, and nothing should distract from the lines. As a result, all models will be shown in a discreet, unobtrusive silver.
Weissach is growing. “Our development center is an innovation accelerator,” says
In spite of all the idea acceleration, the hot phase for a new model lasts about two years. Over one hundred designers are divided into three essential groups, as Mauer explains during a tour of his new 9,000-square-meter realm. On the forest side, the exterior department plies its trade. Their workshop is even larger than the presentation hall—some 70 meters in length. Workers have just polished the floor, which reflects the fluorescent lights in the high ceiling above. The back wall is all-glass—here again, the woods of Weissach serve as a natural backdrop.
When the exterior designers have created a new model on the computer, the next step is to build bodies out of plasticine. This step is followed by 1:1-scale models made of high-density foam. The spaciousness of the rooms allows them to look at the models from a proper distance. Mauer explains why that’s important: “If I’m standing one meter away from a
Moreover, in the hall the modelers always have the opportunity to evaluate their work in natural daylight. They are currently pushing a
Of course, the view enjoyed by the designers must be protected from the eyes of outsiders. The floor plan of the design studio is structured so that only a small part of the building is publicly accessible. The way to the high-security zone of forms and ideas goes through a double security-lock, and this obstacle can be passed only by
Uninterrupted work is also taking place in the next hall, where interior designers are developing the inner life of the sports car.
The requisite transparency and communication are aided by the architecture of the design studio. A good example is the “meeting staircase.” At various levels of this large, white staircase, there is room for inviting colorful furniture: great spots to take a creative break. “In the morning you can grab a cappuccino and a newspaper,” says Mauer, “and casually converse with colleagues about current projects.”
The meeting staircase leads up to the top floor. That’s where the designers have their desks in an open-plan office space. Windows open onto the two halls for the interior and exterior teams. Designers who look up from their own computer screens might catch a glimpse of how the new dashboard is shaping up. Or what the third design department is up to.
This department is aptly named “Colour & Trim.” Its workshop was placed at the north end of the building. “Because neutral light is best for evaluating color tones,” Mauer explains. Here, too, there is an atrium surrounded by modern walls. It has an entrance for suppliers that have to coordinate with the color designers. But the entrance is designed so that a paint manufacturer that is called to the development center cannot lay an eye on a half-finished body. Keeping secrets—a skill that is as well developed here as the designing itself.
At the end of our exclusive tour, Mauer shows us the meeting rooms. He’s proud of them, too, “because they’re in the most beautiful part of the building. Here the energy can flow.” The windows look out on a view of the woods. “It’s quite possible that the occupants might let their gaze wander from time to time. But that’s often helpful. At some point in every project, you just hit a wall. Looking out the window helps free up your thoughts,” explains Mauer.
His enthusiasm for nature does have its limits. “Green is good,” he says, “but only where it belongs.” His designers’ desks are to remain a plant-free zone. He explains: “I’m absolutely determined to prevent dust from gathering on weeping fig plants here.”
By Johannes Schweikle
Photos by Hans-Georg Esch: Born in 1964, Esch has worked as a freelance architecture photographer since 1989. His works open up much more than just perspectives on buildings. Artistic book productions such as Megacities and Cities Unknown are a testament to his versatility.