30 countries, all age groups, and many cultures are represented in the Volkswagen Design Team. “Mobility is extremely diverse nowadays. As such, the Design teams are very eclectic and increasingly multidisciplinary,” says the Head of Volkswagen Group Design, Klaus Zyciora. The Golf is close to the experienced designer’s heart, as he himself has declared. “If it were not emotional, we could not do it!” And when a new Golf GTE cruises almost silently past the Tiefer See lake in front of the Volkswagen Group Future Center Europe in Potsdam at the crack of dawn, Klaus Zyciora’s eyes light up: “You have an idea in your head of what it might be like, you plan, you work as a team on it for more than four years – and then there it is. That is a good feeling!”
“Design is a team sport”
At Volkswagen, designing a new model always involves a large team. That was no different in the case of the new Golf: designers from a diverse range of disciplines helped to shape the car and contributed to the design of the Golf with their own individual skills, experience and passions. We spent a day with two such designers, discovering what moves them, what inspires them, and what drives them. “People shaping the Golf”, part 1: Volkswagen designers Ingo Brückmann and Mathias Kuhn meet Klaus Zyciora, Head of Volkswagen Group Design, at the Volkswagen Group Future Center in Potsdam, from where they set off on a tour of their home city: Berlin.
Video: People shaping the Volkswagen Golf
Two of his designers have come to Potsdam today to meet Klaus Zyciora. Both were instrumental in shaping the Golf, together with their teams, over the course of many months: Mathias Kuhn, who heads the User Interface Design department at Volkswagen – the area, in which everything revolves around the interface between man and machine, and in which the user interfaces in the car are designed. And Ingo Brückmann, interior designer and at Volkswagen since 2005. During the design process, he accompanies the cars from the initial sketches to the point when they are handed over to series production.
Both consider diversity and team spirit to be very important factors in good automobile design. “Many ideas from different characters – when they come together, they produce something big,” says Mathias, describing the development process of a Volkswagen model.
A spark in your head. Creativity needs time and space. “Inspiration comes from outside influences,” Ingo muses. “Then you get a spark in your head, which runs through your arm and onto the paper in the form of a sketch, making it tangible.” Mathias nods: “My biggest inspiration are people. If you watch them closely, they often show the way forward.”
Ingo and Mathias have known each other for many years through their work at Volkswagen. Today, they are going on a very special exploratory tour, starting in Potsdam, during which they will immerse themselves in each other’s personal lives: what moves them outside the design studio? What inspires them? And where to they get their inspiration?
Picturesque arches. Their journey takes them to Berlin, where both have lived for many years. First stop: Charlottenburg. Ingo guides the Golf GTE into an empty parking space at the bustling Savignyplatz. The many street cafes and restaurants are full, as people enjoy the late summer sun. Over the “Bücherbogen” book shop rattles the S-Bahn train, in which the light of the sun breaks at staccato intervals. You immediately get the feeling that this place has a very special flair. A place, to which Mathias is always attracted.
He has parked the Golf GTE in an area that almost defies reality – an area that perfectly reflects urban style for him and Ingo: huge graffiti works on old walls, a factory chimney, illuminated by the evening sun like something from a film. Brightly-coloured, weather-beaten surfaces adorn a basketball court. “You find surprising locations like this everywhere in Berlin,” says Ingo. “It feels great to live in a place like this. The city is a melting pot: a rich history, a lot of nationalities, many contrasts, and a lot of new elements. There is always something new, and things change all the time. Everything is dynamic.”
The Oryx White Golf GTE also forms an exciting contrast, standing as it does – pure and brand-new – in front of the old factory walls with their artistic, often psychedelic graffiti. It is the car, which now attracts the attention of the two designers. Just what is it that makes the design of the Golf so special? “Simplicity,” says Mathias, getting straight to the point. “The Golf is one in an incredible series of eight! It looks simple, but there is an awful lot of hard work behind it.” Three words to sum up the Golf? “Timeless – intelligent – vibrant,” says an impressed Ingo. “When we conceived and sketched it, the new Golf was only accessible to a small team for a long time. Now, finally, anyone can drive it.”
The sun goes down. Evening light on the River Spree. Ingo and Mathias sit on the bank. “It is tranquil, you can’t help but relax. Everything that is loud and moving is over there,” says Ingo, gesturing to the other bank, where a babble of voices emanates from the illuminated bars. “That, in turn, gives you space. Space to think. That is when shapes and ideas start to form in your head. That is not necessarily inspiration in the proper sense, but a form of release.”
Ingo and Mathias watch as the lights dance on the River Spree, and say cheers. Ingo had picked up some drinks from one of Berlin’s 24/7 cornershops, Späti. The perfect accompaniment as they chat about life in the big city and working as a designer at Volkswagen. How they can both often be challenging and tiring. But, above all, they agree that it is usually just great – particularly cooperating with other designers and areas, which complement each other so perfectly – and with whom they have so much fun together.
“Design is a team sport. Nobody can do it alone,” says Mathias. Ingo nods, as the lights flicker quietly.