Volkswagen is already moving toward its next development phase for its design empire. Italian Walter De Silva, the design kaiser ruling over 12 brands and 21 design centres ,is not going to retire any time soon but his duty has been recently extended to the design of a smooth transition of responsibilities and power within the group. That make take three to four years to complete.
The task is far from being easy. It may take three to four years to complete.
Walter De Silva.
Never before a “Designer, creativity manager and Advisor” have met with so great challenges and responsibilities. Perhaps this will not happen again and, after the consolidation of so many brands under one single umbrella, the VW empire will have to be split according to a scientific strategy to ensure the most efficient and effective ruling.
A strategy that needs tests, corrections and confirmations of new leaders, new organisations, new management techniques. A systemic process.
The upcoming introduction of the new Audi Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show next months is only one of the many steps towards the “new world”.
In a recent conversation De Silva conceded that governing over so many brands and managing some 300 “models” at any given time is quite a burden and not always fun.
“Indeed, I am happy only one hour per day, when I can use my pencil and sketches ideas and concepts on paper. When I do that I am happy and I know it because I sing.”, he conceded in a candid, informal conversation.
The son of a talented architect, Walter De Silva is looking to his next life, when he will be sailing to Sardinia and will be more active in product design and works of arts that he is today. “I need that for my own welfare”. One cannot live only in a world of automobiles, trucks and, now, motorcycles” .
Creating installations with the force expressed at Milano’s Fuorisalone by the “Feeding New Ideas for the City” or “Tanzen” for an art Gallery in Turin, is becoming an increasingly burning passion for the creative executive and design philosopher.
Nevertheless, De Silva is keeping focus on his job within the VW Konzern and he does it seven days a week. Asked to tell a bit more about the “revolutionary” concept Audi will be unveiling at the LA Show next November 19th, he declined to say whether if would be a SUV (so popular in the U.S.A.) or the much speculated “A9” (reportedly the next Upper Luxury Sport Limousine to be positioned in a market segment very close to Bentley and so sophisticated to challenge the modern Mercedes-Benz S-Class).
All he conceded was that the show-car is a new Manifesto for the Audi Design, written upon the latest platforms, on the ground of the latest technology developments and anticipating the trends stimulated by digital innovations.
Its role is similar to the one plaid by the 2003 Audi Nuvolari. Although very realistic, it did not preview a specific production car but became the reference for all new Audi designed in the following months and years.
The new revolution is being strategically planned and the creation of a new TT sub-brand as anticipated by many TT show-cars (such as the Audi Allroad unveiled at Detroit 2014, the TT Offroad, presented in Beijing, and the latest TT Sportback) seems to validate the transition process from the current Audi to the next - revolutionary and additional - generations.
Ulrich Hackenberg, the head of Audi research and development has made it official when he stated: "In our TT Sportback we are revealing a new member of a potential TT family." This statement is consequent with his comments on the TT Allroad (shooting brake) and Offroad –which he described as "glimpse of a new model in the future TT family."
Audi TT Allroad Concept
Audi TT Offroad Concept
Audi is reportedly taking both the high and the low roads to Tipperary. One with cars of stronger sporting character (we have already seen five different TT models) and one moving upward into the world of luxury and lifestyle, just about to premiere with the so-called A9.
According to Walter de Silva, the Los Angeles Audi Manifesto, that will be dictating the new standards, has been designed at Audi under the direction of Marc Lichte, even though the inspiring principles have been on Audi’s drawing board long before Lichte was sent to Ingolstadt. A comparison of the superlative single-frame grille unveiled at the Paris Show by the TT Sportback and the one to be seen in Los Angeles will tell the story.
Insiders now have no doubt: Marc Lichte, a design-scion of Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design,and a protegé of Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg is positively the rising star in the VW Group Design Empire. Lichte is credited for the design of many successful Volkswagen, included the excellent Golf 7 and the superlative new Passats, going on sale early next year.
Marc-Lichte and Ulrich-Hackenberg
Significantly, the press statement release by the company to tease the public with a mysterious image, was more about Marc Lichte than the LA concept-car being announced.
The first paragraph said: Audi…is launching into a new era of design. At the Los Angeles Auto Show ….the brand … is presenting the first show car that bears the signature of the new Head of Design Marc Lichte.
The concept car at the Los Angeles Auto Show marks a new beginning in Audi Design – both exterior and interior.
Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design, 2014
In a highly emotional and new design idiom, Marc Lichte communicates the technical competence and uncompromising product quality of the Audi brand – vehicle design is becoming an even stronger expression of progressive technology.
The press-release goes on saying: For 45 year old Lichte, who was appointed Head of Audi Design in February 2014, the core competences of the brand – sportiness, lightweight design and quattro drive – all have a high level of importance.
Marc Lichte was born on August 9, 1969 in Arnsberg in the Sauerland region of Germany. He began his professional career at Volkswagen AG in 1996 while still a student at Pforzheim University studying transportation design. After joining the company, he worked as an exterior designer before being appointed Head of the Exterior Design Studio in 2006. At Volkswagen, Marc Lichte worked on production models that included the Golf 5, 6 and 7, the Passat 6, 7 and 8, the Touareg and the Phaeton.
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