Last September 8, via a unique digital launch event, Mercedes Benz launched Project Geländewagen, the first-ever lovechild from Mercedes Benz and Virgil Abloh, Chief Creative Director and Founder of Off-White and Men’s Artistic Director of luxury brand Louis Vuitton. The conceptual design project used the Mercedes-Benz G-Class to explore ways of expounding the meaning of luxury.
“My ultimate goal in this project with Mercedes-Benz is inspiring young artists, engineers, designers to question the status quo, in addition to experimenting with my own design abilities,” said Virgil Abloh. “For me it’s all about providing opportunities for those coming after me and giving this next generation a foundation for success, both here with Mercedes-Benz and through my own Virgil Abloh™ "Post-Modern" Scholarship Fund."
The result of the collaboration is a G-Class SUV that's equal parts unique and stylish. The vehicle will be auctioned as part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated, one of the auction house’s most celebrated series. All proceeds collected from the auction will go to a charity that supports international creative communities. Advanced bidding for the G-Class will begin on September 14th, 2020.
“With Project Geländewagen we create a unique artwork that showcases future interpretations of luxury and the desire for beauty and the extraordinary. The result is something between reality and future”, says Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer. “The collaboration with Virgil has seen two distinct design philosophies unite, for a one-of-a-kind re-imagination of the G that continues to celebrate the extraordinary at its core.”
The exterior of the SUV is kept as clean as possible, to preserve the G-Class’s iconic silhouette. The paintwork was partially sanded by hand to create a sense of "timeless simplicity". Welds are celebrated as key design motifs, as craftsmanship takes center stage. The indicators, outside mirrors and the bumper bar have all been removed and the body of the car is widened and lowered for a sportier effect.
“Project Geländewagen perfectly encapsulates Mercedes-Benz’s manifestation of contemporary luxury, pushing creativity and innovative design”, says Bettina Fetzer, Vice President Marketing at Mercedes-Benz AG. “Culture and the arts have always played an important part in both Mercedes-Benz products and the brand, and we are proud to donate all proceeds of the replica auction to support international creative communities to continue their education in the arts.”
While the exterior of the G-Class is kept as close to the original form as possible, the interior is the complete opposite. "Inside the art piece, reduction reigns and the racing inspiration is clear; eschewing all clichés of an SUV," says Mercedes Benz in a press release. Everything from the cabin has been stripped back, and the safety frame becomes the center of attention.
The dashboard is removed and replaced with a clean, minimalist version, which celebrates an analogue speedometer and fuel gauges, not unlike those of a classic car. This retro styling contrasts nicely with the steering wheel and seats, which are more reminiscent of a Formula 1 vehicle. Overall, the cabin boasts a retro-futuristic styling that is unlike any other vehicle.
Safety features and key racing elements, such as the safety frame or the 5 point seat belts are highlighted in baby blue and bright red tones. These strong and vibrant accent colors provide a stark contrast against the bare, neutral-toned interior.
"Through Project Geländewagen, the worlds of fashion, art and automotive are united by one common passion: outstanding luxury design that anticipates future ambitions. Utilizing the craftsmanship and know-how that is unique to Mercedes-Benz’s heritage as the world’s first car manufacturer, Wagener and Abloh’s creation embodies Mercedes-Benz’ innate understanding of the extraordinary, a bold vision for the future of luxury design, and the power to dream," says Mercedes Benz in a statement.
You can watch the reveal of the unique SUV here.
Photo/s from Mercedes-Benz