THE DESIGNERS AT Mercedes-Benz start every project with two questions, says Gorden Wag*ener, head of design for parent company Daimler: “Is it cool? And is it hot?” Cool as in high tech; hot as in sensual. His customers might love the features born of the one-**upmanship among carmakers, from infrared cameras to gestural controls. But the experience needs to be immersive, and plasticky buttons or crummy leather would break the spell of opulence. Wagener has been running design for Daimler for nearly a decade, overseeing everything from Freightliner trucks to the Smart car. He has designed a yacht, a helicopter, a private jet interior, even a golf cart. But he always comes back to his work at Mercedes, which blends engineering, emotion, and art.
The culmination of that work must meet the expectations of folks who’ll pay $250,000 for a car. It’s why Mercedes spends an hour inspecting the leather that will *swaddle the driver (and another five hours installing it). That’s just one of many design decisions that, together, add up to an experience that appeals to the company’s target customer. In fact, on a car like the 2017 Mercedes-AMG S65 Cabriolet, Wag*ener dives into the project—even spending time helping select the metal finishes. But he doesn’t stop at just meeting the buyer’s expectation; he pushes even further. “It’s important to create those unexpected moments,” Wagener says. And that means tapping into the five senses.
Knurled metal feels better and looks more expensive, so you’ll find those Braille-like bumps on audio and climate system controls. Wagener gets personally involved in these details, down to the resistance and sound of a turning knob: “It should feel like you’re opening a safe.”
The new car smell is out. Tucked away in the glove box, a cabin atomizer regularly wafts perfume into the interior. Choose from one of six scents (“Pacific Mood OK with everyone?”) or pop in your own. “We perfume ourselves,” Wagener says. “Why not our cars?”
The rise of LEDs means that headlights increasingly are opportunities for design flair, so Wagener put 50 *people on the case. Their brightest idea: Pack around 100 Swarov*ski crystals into the headlights and turn signals, just because they’re pretty.
The fact that the roof opens wide is no excuse for a loud ride when it’s closed. Wagener refused to compromise, insisting on double-glazed windows and a three-layer fabric roof that combine to block out road noise. Turn off the Burmester sound system’s 23 speakers and bask in the symphony of silence.
OK, so this is a different kind of taste. It’s what Wag*ener calls “sensual purity,” the idea that nothing is overdone, that every element serves its purpose, inside and out. “If we like it, take a line off,” he says. “If we still like it, take another off.”
You want .....“sensual purity” ......buy one of those......