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electronic equipment. The AMG logo, specially designed animations, and notifications make it abundantly clear what kind of car you command as a driver. “But the great thing is that an AMG brings so much with it on account of its sporty construction.” Volker Hellwig reaches for pencil and paper. He still draws a great deal. As head of the design department, his duties include conferences, administration, and management, but his sketches still set the pace. With quick strokes he creates a brawny study of an AMG on the sketchpad. Hellwig deliberately overemphasizes the proportions to illustrate: “The lower-slung body and the almost completely redesigned axles of our cars with wider toe alter the proportions of each Mercedes.” The brawny look of an AMG is therefore no accident. Yet again the technology sets the agenda, and the design team is only too happy to follow this agenda, because a low crouch and muscularity are immediately pleasing to the eye. TThe first sketches are followed by more detailed drawings, then accurate designs, holding versions side by side on sheets of paper, the clacking of magnetic clamps on big blackboards; prior to that, mugs of black coffee, discussion. In this phase it’s about defining the goal – another responsibility of Volker Hellwig’s, who leads his team with a soft voice and a steady hand. “I should hope: advances the team,” he clarifies. In the end, one or two designs remain. Often they are syntheses of many ideas. Precise models that can be viewed from all angles are created on the computer; 3D graphics help to assess whether the design agenda is the right one. “But there’s no getting around the clay model,” summarizes the head of design. Clay: brownish red, malleable, somehow incredibly pleasant to hold. A basically antiquated material that is nevertheless still indispensable to any designer. “Only this kind of model can be viewed from all sides for its exact three-dimensional visual impact. Every animation on the computer ultimately remains confined to a two-dimensional screen. You can neither judge the depth of an object there one hundred percent, nor can you fully see the play of light on the surface as in real life.” Furthermore, clay can be easily shaped and reworked. In front of us is a clay model of the current Mercedes-AMG GT3 on a 1:4 scale. Every detail is perfect. It is parked on a surface with a rubberized texture, which looks like the asphalt on a racetrack. The red-and-white curbs are painted with Plaka paint. But if you step back just a little bit, the boundaries between large and small become blurred. Cleverly photographed, the model looks like the original: The semigloss, original color paint makes every contour appear as it does on the genuine Mercedes-AMG GT3. And that is exactly what a clay model should do: Get as close as possible to the actual future AMG. The AMG executives decide on the final design with the aid of these kinds of models. This same process from idea to product has proven itself. Today AMG is more than just pure power on the road and track. Today AMG is pure power that has had a perfect-fitting bespoke suit tailored for it. A suit that fulfills every required function and yet is so self-evidently AMG that you couldn’t contrive a better one. “Well,” Volker Hellwig smiles. “There’s still a little more to come.” He folds the sketchpad shut. Like a flipbook, page follows page, granting a split-second glance of studies and details. And it becomes clear: There’s not just a little more to come — there’s a lot! Volker Hellwig Age 47 Birthplace Alzey, Germany Role Head of Design at Mercedes-AMG Résumé 1990–1994 Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Univ. Stuttgart 1994–1996 Degree in Industrial Design Engineering, RCA London 1997–2000 Design, BMW AG 2000–2008 Design, Mercedes-Benz Since 2009 Design, Mercedes-AMG Inspiration People Passion Competition and change 97


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