Virgil Abloh Sets a New Course for Luxury With Mercedes-Benz Collaboration

We talk to the designer about his take on the G-Class.

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Automotive
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Initially teased back in July, “Project Geländewagen” — a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Virgil Abloh — has finally been unveiled. Working with Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener, Abloh has designed an artistic model of the iconic G-Class, which celebrated its 40th birthday last year.

As owners of a G-Class car themselves, Abloh and Wagener used their personal experience when considering how Mercedes-Benz designs could be seen in a new light. Their aim was to drive luxury away from a polished and flawless aesthetic, instead creating something that was more raw and natural.

The exterior of the car arrives in a clean white to emphasize its silhouette, all the while laying its construction methods bare and celebrating the handcrafted imperfections that make it unique, the paintwork has been partially sanded by hand to create a sense of simplicity.

“Collaboration is when two people, groups, brands, ideologies, come together with two different languages to create a new one.”

The indicators, outside mirrors and bumper bar have all been removed and the body of the car has been both widened and lowered. The distinct personality of the classic car remains intact, however, and an exaggeration of the tires and spare wheel exude its renowned charisma.

“One of my personal rules — or ‘cheat notes’ as I like to call them — is the rule of three,” Abloh told HYPEBEAST when discussing what a collaboration means to him. “To me, an existing object needs to be altered by only 3 percent to become something new, to evoke a new or different emotion, to be perceived differently by the world. I carry this with me in everything I do.”

“Collaboration is when two people, groups, brands, ideologies, come together with two different languages to create a new one,” Abloh continued. “Mercedes-Benz is a brand that stands for luxury and exceptional performance. There’s a history to the brand and the effects it has had on culture that just can’t be denied.”

Speaking about the collaboration, Wagener explained why Abloh was the ideal partner for Mercedes-Benz, “Like Virgil, Mercedes-Benz has the courage to be disruptive. The objective of ‘Project Geländewagen’ was to look at Mercedes-Benz design with a new perspective and create something unique that represents the future of luxury.”

“What’s important in terms of design is that it is so much more difficult to take something away than to add something,” he continued. “This concept is deeply rooted in the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy, but also in Virgil’s philosophy, which is to question everything.”

“When we applied it to the G-Class for this project and stripped it down completely, it was a really fun performance, ripping everything out and starting again, removing everything that isn’t essential. It’s through this process of making, editing and re-inventing which is how great design can continually push boundaries”

A replica of the design piece will also be auctioned as part of this year’s Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated. Each year, the sale — one of the auction house’s most revered series — is defined by the perspective of a different influential tastemaker each year. with all proceeds going to a charity that supports international creative communities. Advanced bidding on the replica Virgil Abloh x Mercedes-Benz G-Class project will begin on September 14 2020, with proceeds going to a charity working in the arts.

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