These days, a luxury car company is nothing without a dedicated in-house design consultancy. As well as steering the shape and form of future products, these departments are increasingly encouraged to spread their wings and move into the thrusting world of furniture, bikes, yachts, aircraft and even architecture. Mercedes-Benz is no different. Under the stewardship of the German designer Gorden Wagener since 2008, Mercedes' ‘Mercedes-Benz Style’ studio has chalked up an impressive portfolio of non-automotive projects, including helicopter and a speedboat – both built to order – as well as conceptual ideas for both a new-style private jet interior and a visionary yacht.
The Style division is also responsible for shaping the concept cars that preview the future look and feel of Mercedes’ passenger cars. The past 18 months has seen the F015 autonomous luxury car, the morphing aerodynamics of the Concept IAA and the vast, plutocratic Maybach VISION Coupe, to name but three.
In amongst all this, Wagener has also overseen a new book, Sensual Purity, a sort of visual manifesto of Mercedes' recent greatest conceptual hits, with a few real projects thrown in for balance. Glossy photography by Jonathan Glynn-Smith is mixed in with lavishly rendered dreamscapes against which the chromed torsos of tomorrow’s Mercedes-designed machines are displayed.
There's a fair bit of space devoted to what Wagener calls 'sensual purity,' but for fans of design and elegant automobiles alike, what this essentially means is that Mercedes-Benzes are once again looking rather elegant. Not since the golden era of Bruno Sacco in the 70s through to the 90s has there been such a good-looking crop of cars bearing the 3-pointed star, and if the polished flanks of this conceptual fleet is anything to go by, there are some more gems to come.
As chief design officer Daimler AG, Wagener has overseen a rediscovery of the role of proportion and form and how to apply it to what has always been a rather conservative company. Yet Mercedes is also pushing its role as a thought leader, pioneering technologies like electric drive and autonomous cars. Recent concepts have gone further than most in speculating what a true hands-free future might look like, and the book is a fine snapshot of futurism at work.
Sensual Purity, £40, published by Condé Nast Publications. For more information, visit the Mercedes-Benz website
Receive our daily digest of inspiration, escapism and design stories from around the world direct to your inbox
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
Step into Andrew Cranston’s magical take on mundanity at The Hepworth Wakefield
As ‘Andrew Cranston: What made you stop here?’ opens at The Hepworth Wakefield, the artist tells us about seeing the extraordinary in the everyday
By Hannah Silver Published
Byredo introduces its first fine jewellery collection
Byredo fine jewellery launches with the ‘Virasaat’ collection, meaning ‘inheritance’, influenced by founder Ben Gorham’s Indian heritage
By Pei-Ru Keh Published
True to Type is a new Korean furniture brand for future generations
Seoul-based Jinsik Kim launches True to Type to explore craftsmanship and aesthetic purity through furniture and objects
By Rosa Bertoli Published
Zoute Grand Prix is a car fest like no other at a pristine Belgian beachside town
Amy Serafin takes to the well-heeled streets of Knokke-Heist to experience the Zoute Grand Prix, its annual cavalcade of classic car-related events, from a rally to an auction
By Amy Serafin Published
Four new compact camper vans showcase the best in modest mobile home design
Volkswagen, Citroën, Ford and Mercedes-Benz showcase their latest takes on contemporary van living
By Jonathan Bell Published
Mercedes EQE SUV brings more tech to the fore
Premium electrification means imposing scale and unavoidable technology in the all-conquering Mercedes EQE SUV
By Rory FH Smith Published
Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven concept is a convincing mix of futuristic design and technology
The Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven concept gives new electric tech a sleek 1970s-inspired skin, mixing the marque’s expansive heritage with its modern design language
By Guy Bird Published
Peugeot’s sparky 308 gets hybrid power and handsome lines
The Peugeot 308 proves that mass-market design needn’t be dull, blending hybrid power with sharp lines and excellent detailing
By Jonathan Bell Published
BMW Motorrad brings out the big guns for its newest cruisers
BMW Motorrad R 18 Bagger and Transcontinental set the tone for high-voltage cruising with a brand collaboration with speaker specialist Marshall
By George Chapman Last updated
Dacia’s new Manifesto concept is a true outdoor utility vehicle
Utilitarian auto brand Dacia sets a bold new agenda with its Manifesto, a concept car pitched at the active outdoor market
By Jonathan Bell Last updated
The sun sets on traditional supercars at California’s Monterey Car Week
Monterey Car Week, the world’s most prestigious car gathering, is showcasing ever-more extravagant special editions, coachbuilt cars and all-new electric concepts. Here are seven key machines from 2022
By Rory FH Smith Last updated