A modern interpretation of luxury calls for emotional, authentic experiences. With this in mind, the bipolarity of traditional craftsmanship and high-tech also forms the focus of interior design at Mercedes‑Benz. Inside too, the vehicles exude Sensual Purity, setting standards in precision and quality. The principles of the modern Mercedes design idiom are applied to create automotive environments in which customers enjoy modern luxury as a lasting experience.
Mercedes‑Benz’s interior designers create and realise interior concepts for both series production vehicles and show cars as well as futuristic visions. “We design vehicle interiors from the initial sketches through subsequent stages such as design, CAD and clay models, hard models, equipment models or high-precision data control models, fashioning everything down to the very finest details until we arrive at the final series production car”, explains Hartmut Sinkwitz, Head of Interior Design. “In the process we continually re-interpret emotion and intelligence to create stimulating environments with a feel-good character”.
The scope of interior design for all model series from Mercedes‑B enz comprises the entire interior, including seats, doors, roof liner, instrument panel and control elements. Specialists are required for all the areas involved, such as automotive, product, textile and fashion designers. Surface finishing specialists create the colours and all the materials for the interior.
From grained leather through metal structures to the lustre of the surfaces, every detail is carefully selected and coordinated. A sense of harmony and coherence often hinges on the finest nuances. The attributes and the design idiom of each model are continually redefined. Creative interior design concepts are developed and implemented not only in Sindelfingen, but also at the Advanced Interior Studio in Como, Italy.
Harmonious wrap-around effects with flowing lines, curved centre tunnel consoles, hovering instrument panels, high-quality materials and meticulously crafted details conjure up a “welcome home” feeling. Hallmark Mercedes features such as the round air vents or the seat adjustment switches embedded in the doors create a uniform brand experience spanning the different model series.
The rigour which the Mercedes‑Benz designers apply to their work is also tangible in the interior - quality and precision being key aspects of luxury. The designers travel all over the world in search of trends and new materials. “Outside of the automotive sphere, architecture or art are sources of inspiration for me”, says Sinkwitz. Fashion also plays a major role, of course, although this is generally subject to short-lived trends and thus tends to be transient in nature, while the design of all Mercedes‑Benz automobiles focuses on attractive aesthetics and a modern character which is intended to last.
Interior design work embraces both traditional craftsmanship and digital work at the computer: the interior design process also begins with a sketch or rendering phase. In the next step, a 1:1 clay model enables the designers to develop the design in three-dimensional form - from the inside out, as it were - until they arrive at an aesthetically accomplished sense of space. Several interiors are modelled, in order to decide which concept is to be pursued.
For the surface finishing, the colour & trim designers choose materials and colours from hundreds of fabric, leather, wood and metal samples – much in the manner of an haute couture fashion designer. Work at Mercedes‑Benz also gives rise to new designs and processes, such as the patented “flowing lines” of exclusive trim elements. The effects of the materials’ touch and feel and the employed colours are configured and defined in realistic conditions in 1:1 interior mock-ups. This also calls for handiwork - in the form of the needlework required to sew together the individual leather pieces for the dashboard, for example.
“Concept EQ”: a foretaste of tomorrow’s car interior
The study “Concept EQ” (premiered at the 2016 Paris Motor Show) provides an example of how vehicle interiors are heralding a paradigm shift as they evolve into living and working environments. The electric car with the look of a sporty SUV coupé offers an innovative interior.
“Concept EQ” is fitted with four individual seats. Their reduced volume, their “hovering” appearance and the avant-garde seat upholstery layout convey a lightweight impression. A tailored sound experience is provided by speakers integrated into the head restraints. The side bolsters are covered in light-white leather, while perforations with a pixel rain look reveal particles in rose gold. Stitching with a PCB look on the deep-brown centre sections produces an interesting contrast.
Future Truck 2025: a foretaste of tomorrow’s truck interior
While the passenger car’s development into a “third place” is still in its infancy, the home environment and the world of work have long been merging in commercial vehicles, and in long-distance haulage in particular. “This is manifested in the soft-touch surfaces and the interior in a warm beige, which sets the Actros long-distance haulage truck apart from the Antos and Arocs in our truck range”, observes Kai Sieber, Head of Design Brands & Operations.
A foretaste of the interior equipment on board future trucks is provided by the Mercedes‑Benz Future Truck 2025. This research vehicle, which was presented for the first time at the 2014 IAA Commercial Vehicles Show, is designed to offer the driver of an autonomously driving truck a work and rest environment that is ideally suited to their needs. Instruments have been replaced with displays, and conventional switch panels with a touch pad. During phases of automated driving the driver’s seat, which can be rotated by 45 degrees, becomes an office chair or armchair from which additional tasks can be carried out or the driver can stay in contact with family and friends.
In this future workplace the driver communicates via tablet computer while the truck is on the move in automated mode. The tablet will replace the steering wheel and pedals as the primary item of operating equipment on long stretches covered in automated mode. On the tablet the driver will attend to paperwork, plan upcoming destinations, take on additional jobs and organise the next break. The computer screen can be configured according to the user’s wishes. The driver can call up all key items of trip data as necessary, for example – a further detail illustrating the perfect interplay of technology and design for the mobility of the future.
Urban eTruck: exciting yet sensible design
The design of the Urban eTruck also embodies the design philosophy of Sensual Purity to perfection. The forms are gentle and flowing, extremely minimalist and succinct – with no visible joints to spoil the seamless appearance. Inside, sophisticated material combinations of metallic-look leather, light grey and black DINAMICA imitation velour in conjunction with blue contrasting topstitching conjure up a futuristic touch.
Concept X-Class: progressive design and pure emotion
With the Concept X, Mercedes‑Benz is broadening its product portfolio and making a statement with two new design variants embodied in the first premium pick-up for the modern, urban lifestyle. Its expressive design interprets the brand’s signature design idiom and embodies the bipolarity of the design philosophy of Sensual Purity.
The interior is also a study in emotion and style, informed by a fascinating contrast of warm and cold colours and high-quality materials. Brown nubuck leather exuding a very natural character on the seats boasts a sensual touch and feel that provides for a special sense of comfort. This warm colour, which also features on the instrument panel, is combined with cool, white nappa leather. The trim in open-pored, smoked oak wood contrasts with brushed and polished aluminium trim elements. The world of modern luxury is showcased in very stylish fashion here.