Making of: Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR


It’s a dream come true for every car designer to work with Hollywood work with science fiction movie people and get the greatest inspiration from that. I think I describe the show car as a really wonderful expression of everything that we hope these movies inspire. It would not be honest to say that was an easy job because then it would not lead to a very special result. At the beginning, it was totally free, definitely. There was nothing fixed. It was not fixed how large this car should be, how strongly or not strongly it should be tied to the movie. So this was a process that we went through. I think the big idea for the car was to create a car that didn’t scream movie tie-in, that just was a very smart, eco-conscious, well-designed, beautiful car first. And that was just an exciting car. And then once you delved into the car and understood more about the design and more about the functionality and more about how it is made, then you would begin to see the influence of the Avatar franchise and the very eco-conscious, environmentally friendly issues that we try and evoke. What I found most inspiring about working with the Mercedes
design team is they were not inhibited. They were pushing boundaries every step of the way. We would come up with a suggestion that was out of the box and they embraced it, they never said we can’t do it. They might say we look into it. But every time we threw a challenge at them, the Mercedes design team conquered that challenge. It was a co-creation from the very beginning. Both teams had the same spirit, to create something inspired by movie, but also inspired by our “Sensual Purity” design philosophy which would stun the world and which would just give us a new vision of a human-merged, human-centered, bionic and very sensual object that we wanted to create together. Yeah, we’ve been talking to them for several years,
and just about the hardest thing to crack is: what is it? Once we kind of figured out conceptually that we weren’t trying to design a car for the film, but design truly a concept car, it all kind of started to fall into place a lot easier. And then Ben and I were fortunate enough to go to Stuttgart and actually, go to their design Mecca and work with their top design people, which is just an absolute fantastic experience. And to actually see the prototype and work on the actual car as a collaboration. Yeah, it was a progressive, holistic design approach and from the beginning, interior, exterior and UI worked together. The face of the car, as well as the back of the car, and the flaps and all the light systems are seamlessly connected with each other to create a living organism. It is also connected with the technology of the HMM, the human machine merge. So, it is linked directly to the driver’s motions and emotions. The doors or the wings of the car, they create transparency and protection at the same time, and they’re essential to illustrate the eternal connection of shapes from the inside to the outside and make a whole sculpture complete. We used recycled materials to protect our resources. We used natural materials. One really innovative material you can find on the floor. It’s called karuun. It is made of rattan palm, so it is a really sustain and natural material So, the whole appearance with this natural material makes the interior really cosy and also gives you a warm feeling when you enter it. And then in combination with this liquid exterior colour and the rose gold accents, it is a really homogenous combination and looks luxurious and modern and the same time. In our UX design studios, we create both: visionary show cars like this one and production cars at the same time and therefore, of course all the ideas influence each other. And here I think the basic idea is the idea of creating an interaction that is very simplified, very intuitive and very natural. What we created is also the pleasure of driving, that we want to push to the maximum. And through the seats and the centre console, getting the connection, a strong connection between the human and the car. First of all, on the seats, you have an exciter that gives you feedback. You have a device for a new way of driving, giving you direct contact to the wheels and direct contact to nature. We try to reduce the visual complexity and enhance the experience by using different senses within the car. When you approach the car, it already starts to come to life, it already reacts to you coming nearby, through lights and physical movements on the outside. And then when I enter the vehicle and I sit down, I put my hand down on the central elements and the car starts to come to life. I can actually feel my heartbeat being replicated by the vehicle itself and that creates a kind of connection which is unknown. We can actually feel this almost physical, biological connection happening there. In Avatar I, Jake Sully uses technology to have a link experience which ultimately gives him an experience of a tribal and a natural, perception of reality that is beautiful and goes way beyond the way he looked at everything before. And he also has as a direct bond with the creature that he learns to ride, and he really becomes connected to the world. But there’s a technological aspect allowing him to do that. So, in my mind, that’s kind of what the car does, right? It’s a technologically mediated way to feel connected to something that is different from the normal spirit of a car. One of our goals for the show car was to extend the use of senses, and we wanted to create multiple highlights in the car, and one of them was a massive, enormous digital surface that stretches through the interior. And we provided the user with this because we wanted to enhance his vision, enhance the senses and that he can dive into a kind of virtual experience space inside the car. It was a really a magic moment to see the user interface pop up on the hand and the user interacts really completely freely with it. Well, Avatar to me, is all about nature. It’s about this symbiosis, this connection between all elements. This was strongly related to one picture in the movie. We had this loop between the head of the character, the hair and into the animal. And if you look at the side view on the car, you can see exactly this loop. In the movie we found a lot of new shapes forms and surfaces, which inspired us a lot in our work. You can see that in the three-dimensional concave and convex shape, for example, of the driver’s seat, which was inspired by a leaf. One of the other obvious things that I thought worked really well was the influence of the wood sprites, which are the seeds, the seeds of the spirit tree in the wheels. And you can very much see that shape. But it’s not contrived, it feels very natural and it is beautiful. On the whole light scenario, you will find a lot of colours from the Avatar world. Starting from purple to turquoise to blue. So yes, it was a really nice inspiration,
this movie with the fantastic Pandora world. It is inspired by the movie and yet is a legitimate design in its own right. It is something that is not just a sculpture. It is not just an art piece. It is a car. It sort of has some relationship to your brand and your goals for your own car line, but it should immediately evoke more the natural beauty side of the Avatar movies. It is a new blossom in our garden. A new blossom in the garden influences the garden because it’s shiny, has a different colour maybe than the other blossoms, but it is still a child of the garden. So yes, it will influence us, but we also influenced it and we put our design philosophy into it. Well, I think this show car is a very epic, it’s very different to pretty much every other show car we have done so far, because it’s very far out there and obviously it’s inspired by a science fiction movie. So, I think it gives you a future vision in all dimensions. It is still a car, but it shows the enormous potential of cars in terms of user experience and in terms of how to get from pure driving functions to an immersive experience space. So we were off the car, we came back to the car, and we ended in a very, I would say, inspiring object that is a car, but at the same time, it’s a life. It’s a creature and a car, definitely it is, both sides. But a special idea in this car is that it’s not only the destination you are interested in, but it’s especially the experience you have while you’re sitting in the car. So it is almost a bit more than a car, as we know it today. It’s a cool experience room. The most shocking and most fantasy creating will be the flaps on the back of the car, moving independently of each other, if we want to. The ‘car comes alive’ thing will be the most stunning and surprising part. My personal favorite is the merge on the central device that really shows that basic idea of that human-machine merge. Definitely the wheels, because they’re highly inspired by the movie, by the wood sprites, which also reflects in the whole exterior. My personal favourite is really that the interface comes closer to the human and that you can interact with the interface very closely to your body and that you get different ideas about your surroundings. The idea was really to create a membrane between yourself inside the car and the outside car and get an idea of the beauty of nature which surrounds you, using the car as a tool. By taking the inspiration from Avatar, I think we were able to elevate our “Sensual Purity” of language to the next level. You see that on the surface, in the proportion, in each and every detail of that car, that it actually becomes very organic. So, in that way, I think we elevated our language to a more futuristic approach. Free show cars like that are a great inspiration for us and it helps us to make better production cars. It’s not that far in the future for a car. It’s not some impossible fantasy car. It’s really distilling down the best ideas about sustainability and connectivity to nature and connectivity to each other and putting those forth into an already existing car line, the EQ line. It`s a very forward thinking but very attainable and realistic car. I see a similarity between Mercedes-Benz design team and what we do here at the avatar sequels. We are continually looking to push the boundaries of what is possible. We don´t want to rest on the laurels of our past. And that’s what we found in the Mercedes-Benz design team. They were out there ahead on the wave, ahead of the curve looking down the future. And in a sustainable way. And therefore, I’m so happy about that car because it really shows the absolute elevation of “Sensual Purity”. I would say, if we are currently at 3.0, like in an operating system, this car is probably 6.0. So it basically makes three jumps in every way. And also what it shows is that the future is a holistic approach. We don’t just do an exterior and we do an interior and then we put an HMI system into it. No. All designers, of all different kinds, are working together almost like in the Renaissance and create something very complicated, and then they simplify it again into one beautiful final object like this.

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