The late Virgil Abloh, who died last Sunday aged 41, frequently referenced the automotive and industrial design industries in his work, so it came as no shock that the designer was asked by Mercedes-Benz to collaborate and reimagine one of its leading cars, the G-Class. Now, in honor of Abloh’s family’s wishes, Mercedes-Benz proudly unveils the designer’s next car: the Project MAYBACH.
Described as being “a collaborative electric show car designed to inspire the next generation, and forever question the status quo,” Project MAYBACH continues the conversation Abloh and Mercedes-Benz had on redefining luxury. It was created in tandem with Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz’s Chief Design Officer, who was also enlisted to co-develop the aforementioned G-Class, and together the two vanguards have designed something that’s unlike anything ever made by the marque.
Combining electrification with luxury — something Mercedes-Benz is stepping into more than ever — while also including a design language inspired the great outdoors, the Project MAYBACH is a car of contrasts, great proportions, and typical of Abloh. It’s a two-seater and a coupé, thus immediately contradictory of any off-roading rules, yet rides high on chunky wheels and features underbody paneling alongside a roof rack and high-beam lights for extra off-road capability.
Like Abloh’s G-Class, it’s a car of two minds. Here, it’s something that could work well in the real world — albeit somewhat dystopian — but that’s also partly the point. Full creative freedom was given to Abloh and Wagener to create a vision of the future of automobiles, “untethered by production requirements,” resulting in how electrified cars could be bettered for the environment of the future. Solar cells sit underneath the car’s transparent front hood, while the combination of utilitarianism and luxury isn’t new, rather reinterpreted yet again for the future.
As Mercedes-Benz puts it, “The power of Abloh’s work is not only from the product design, but also the exploratory conversations that his work ignited. Whilst the Project MAYBACH show car was inspired by how one could explore nature within a uniquely luxury context with Maybach, the Mercedes-Benz teams thank Virgil Abloh for the inspiration to explore every day the power of cross-industry dialogue to imagine a better, more inclusive future.”
Speaking on the announcement of the project, Abloh previously said, “The Maybach legacy celebrates exploration, pushing creativity to new places, living outside of the status quo. In this next phase, we’re embracing these ideals and bringing the Mercedes-Maybach heritage into the future, inviting the next generation to join in revering this icon. Together we’re entering a new age of discovery.”
At the time, Wagener added, “With ‘Project MAYBACH’ we define the next level of luxury… After 100 years, we transform the brand into a luxury electric future. Together with Virgil, we are writing a new rule book for Mercedes-Maybach.”
You can see the Project MAYBACH by Virgil Abloh above, or in lieu of a private press event, you can also see it in real life at Miami’s Rubell Museum on December 1 to December 2, with access offered exclusively to students from local design schools from 11:30 a.m. EST to 12:30 p.m. EST on December 1.
In case you missed it, check out what HYPEBEAST has to say about Virgil Abloh’s design legacy.