Mercedes-Benz Steffen Köhl.

Steffen Köhl: Director Advanced Exterior Design.

The designers at Daimler conceive vehicles which do not appear on the roads until some years later.

Detecting international trends.

Which department do you head? 

Advanced Exterior Design, with design studios in Beijing (China), Carlsbad (USA) and Sindelfingen (Germany).

What are its main functions?

We develop and create automotive design for future portfolio ideas and show cars as well as Mercedes-Benz standard-production vehicles. We also see our foreign design studios as brand ambassadors for Mercedes-Benz, by means of events, university contacts and the recruitment of local talent. The third function of the studios is to detect international trends in technology and design as well as architecture and art.

Mercedes-Benz Steffen Köhl.

Passion for forms.

What is a typical working day like for you?

My/the (Classic Design) working day is made up mainly of managing the design processes for various vehicle projects. This is done in meetings on 2D designs, so-called renderings, with the designers, as well as on 1:4 and 1:1-scale clay models with our model designers.

Another daily task consists of managing the foreign design studios by means of video conferencing and other communication media and discussing their projects, that is unless I happen to be there in person. The working day is rounded off by several project meetings.

Where does your enthusiasm for design come from?

It comes, of course, from my love of drawing and designing, but also from a passion for form, technology, art and architecture.

“Competition can act as an inspiration”.

What do you like doing in your leisure time?

Spending time with family and friends. Various sports, such as beach volleyball, inline skating, badminton. Reading and writing short stories.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

From the infinite variety of impressions that present themselves to us every day; be it landscapes, works of art or products, conversations, spontaneous moods or, of course, the in-house competition for ideas at Mercedes-Benz Design. Competition itself can act as an inspiration.

Who or what would you have liked to be?

Someone with the inherent physical ability to fly.

Mercedes-Benz Steffen Köhl.

Previous positions within the company.

Head of Advanced Design Center, Exteriors, Mercedes-Benz, 2008
Head of Exterior Design, Production Vehicles, 2005
Head of Advanced Design, Germany, 2001
Designer/Design Project Manager responsible for interior and exterior of SLR production vehicle (C 199), six-month project assignment at McLaren/UK, 2000
Co-designer with joint responsibility for exterior of SLR COUPE concept car (Detroit Motor Show), 1998
Team leader, design studio mid-range series/coupés/sports cars, 1996
Project-related assignment to the Advanced Design Studio, Irvine/USA, as head of conceptual design for exterior of SL (R 230), 1996
Designer responsible for exterior of CLK production vehicle (C 208), 1994
Designer responsible for exterior of C-Class racing car (W 202 DTM), 1993
Designer responsible for exterior of Coupé concept car (Geneva Motor Show), 1993
Designer responsible for interior of E-Class production vehicle (W 210), 1992
Automotive designer for exterior and interior passenger cars, 1988

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