The first of its kind collaboration between Mercedes Benz and Virgil Alboh teased back in July has officially been unveiled. Project Geländewagen is about an artistic model of the iconic G-Class, which celebrated its 40th birthday last year. Abloh worked closely with Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener to bring this project to life.
Using their personal experience as both are the owners of a G-Class, they considered how Mercedes-Benz’s design could be seen in a new light. The result was to create a more raw and natural aesthetic, instead of sticking to the luxurious, polished, and flawless silhouette. The entirety of the car’s exterior still gives away the classic and familiar G-Class look, but with exaggerated tires and spare wheel, alongside absent indicators, outside mirrors, and bumper bar.
“One of my personal rules — or ‘cheat notes’ as I like to call them — is the rule of three. 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.”
Wagener continues, explaining why Virgil was the perfect partner for Mercedes: “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. 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.”
Additionally, a replica of the car will be auctioned as part of this year’s Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated and all of the proceeds will be donated to a charity that supports international creative communities.