Sharing my city: Amsterdam with Lizzy van der Ligt

car2go: Lizzie van der Ligt in an apartment in Amsterdam.

What does it feel like to go on holiday and not just live in someone else’s apartment, but to immerse yourself in someone else’s life?

What was travel like before the advent of platforms on which private individuals can rent out their apartment by the day or week or that enable you to discover an unknown city for yourself using car2go? For some people, those times are now little more than a vague memory. It’s just so fantastic to make your own fried egg in the morning in a city that was unknown to you until yesterday, to browse someone else’s well-assorted bookshelves and, in most cases, to be supplied first-hand with insider tips – following the motto: “immerse yourself in another life”.

Digitalisation and the opportunities offered by the “sharing economy”, in which you don’t need to own something to use it, are opening the door to new ways of living, travelling and working. People are not just sharing car2go vehicles, using Facebook to stay in touch with friends in faraway places and following their latest music discoveries on Spotify. These technologies are causing people’s own networks to grow exponentially. Often, all it takes is an email to get in touch with friends of friends on the other side of the world.

01 10

Our video with stylist and blogger Lizzy van der Ligt describes this way of life and the wide-ranging opportunities that arise from networking and the sharing of information and things. What would it be like if we were one day able not just to book a private apartment for a city trip, but to totally immerse ourselves in another life for a day? Sharing my city: Amsterdam.

car2go: Lizzie van der Ligt next to a smart in Amsterdam.

Felix Jaehn – the new Brand Ambassador of Mercedes-Benz.

Felix Jaehn is an internationally renowned DJ and music producer. He received several platinum and gold records. His breakthrough came in 2015 with the remix of “Cheerleader”, the first German song to reach no. 1 in the US charts since 1989.

Related.

Georgia’s secret ambassador

Fashion Week ambassador Sofia Tchkonia leaning on a Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC in Tbilisi.

Sofia Tchkonia puts a chic spin on patriotism.

The rise of a certain Demna Gvasalia, now creative director of Balenciaga, and of London-based designer David Koma, artistic director of Thierry Mugler since 2013, put Georgia on the map of the international fashion scene. Suddenly fashion insiders from all over the globe scrutinised the former Soviet republic by the Black Sea for the next shooting star, and glossy magazines like Vogue, Elle and New York Times T Magazine dispatched editors to the Georgian capital Tbilisi to report about this newly discovered creative hub.

Enter Sofia Tchkonia. A born and bred Georgian with a global mindset and the refined sophistication of a true cosmopolitan, she can be described as the driving force behind the ongoing fame of the small nation at the intersection of Europe and Asia. We met the fascinating founder and creative director of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Georgia for a joy ride in a Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC through Tbilisi’s picturesque old city. Driving past quaint historic structures, we talk to Tchkonia about her ambitious work behind the scenes to further her home country’s reputation as an international hub for design and creativity.

S 500 4MATIC: Fuel consumption combined: 9.3–8.7 l/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 216–202 g/km.*

Sofia Tchkonia driving a Mercedes S 500 4MATIC.

What is the status quo in Georgia’s design and culture scene?

Many good things are happening at the moment. We have a growing number of talented designers, not only in fashion but also in interior and furniture design, jewellery, and much more. Besides Fashion Week, we have countless other cultural events, exhibitions and festivals taking place in Georgia.

What are the things that set Georgian creatives apart from their international peers?

I don’t know if this is good or bad, but Georgian creatives are not spoiled by marketing yet and they think more about creativity itself rather than focusing on the commercial side of things.

You are the founder and creative director of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Georgia. What does your work for this event entail?

As soon as one season’s event ends we start working on the upcoming fashion week. I invite guests, work with the designers, and liaise with potential sponsors and the government. There is always plenty to do.

What were the biggest challenges in creating and establishing Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Georgia?

Discovering the most talented designers and keeping up with the changes we see each season are probably the most challenging tasks.

'
Georgian creatives are not spoiled by marketing yet.
'

Sofia Tchkonia

Growing up, did you always want to work in fashion? What made you choose this path?

I’ve been studying films and wanted to become a film director. I’m not entirely sure how it happened that I now work in fashion, but the two things I love most of all are fashion and the cinema. I’ve been organising international fashion design contests for seven years now. There we provide scholarships for outstanding participants and finance collections, giving the designers exposure and helping them find work placements. I found that we need a professional fashion week in the country because I felt we are ready for it. We have many talented designers in Georgia who are ready for the international market. This is also a perfect opportunity to promote the country itself through art and fashion.

Sofia Tchkonia leaning on a fence in Tbilisi.

Growing up in Georgia, was patronage of the arts a big topic in your family?

My family has always been actively involved in Georgia’s cultural scene, sponsoring and also organising events from theatre to art, fashion and much more. They supported many different projects that were vital to the country’s cultural scene and educational sector. My father originally brought major American brands here in 1993, right after the Soviet Union collapsed. My mother had a charity foundation and was organising design contests for young fashion designers. My parents always gave me a lot of motivation to move forward and supported me throughout. I’ve been working since the age of 18 and did many different things. I think most of all it is my passion for what I do that helped me to get where I am now, as well as the desire to constantly improve.

Sofia Tchkonia at the steering wheel of a Mercedes S 500 4MATIC.

Would you consider yourself and your work as the work of a patriot and cultural ambassador?

Maybe. I think culture, art and fashion are the perfect ambassadors for the country. My ambition is to enhance the prestige of my country.

'
My ambition is to enhance the prestige of my country.
'

Sofia Tchkonia

The contest you described is the BE NEXT International Fashion Design Contest. What is the aim of this event?

It is an annual platform for creative people from all around the globe, bringing together young designers and providing them with the opportunity to showcase their talent and creations to a jury of international experts and professionals. It has been going on for ten years now. Prizes range from financial opportunities, work placements, participation in international study programmes and fashion weeks to participation in major trade shows and showrooms, PR and Sales opportunities and much more.

01 07

You also organise a biannual art and design salon in Paris, ARTGeorgia. What is the focus here?

ARTGeorgia is the place where fashion meets art. Creatives from all around the world from the fields of art, fashion or photography can present their work and their ideas in a relaxed atmosphere to an audience of fashion representatives, specialty fashion buyers, selected VIPs, socialites, journalists, stylists, magazine representatives, and fashion and art professionals.

Our mission is to support, to give visibility to artists and our aim is to build the bridge between creatives and professionals from around the world.

01 05

What are the best spots to experience contemporary Georgian culture and design?

I would recommend visiting the old city of Tbilisi with its narrow streets to experience the real Georgia. Amongst the museums I would suggest to go see the National Gallery or State Museum, the Theatre and Cinema Museum, and the Lado Gudiashvili Gallery. Turn to Gabriadze Café or Keto & Kote for authentic sustenance. Rooms Hotel is a Georgian brand and a popular meeting place for many locals and people who visit Tbilisi.

What makes Georgia unique in your eyes?

As a Georgian, this is a hard thing for me to say. For me my country as a whole is unique. The culture, the fashion and art, the capital Tbilisi, the environment – these are all things I love about Georgia.

Founder of Mercedes-Benz fashion week Tbilisi Sofia Tchkonia in a Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC.

What is next on your busy agenda?

My next projects will be the upcoming Fashion Week and various projects in Paris, Milan and London. There are many things happening right now, which is very exciting for me.

Thank you very much for the interview!

Backstage AMG: A glimpse behind the scenes, into the dynamic heart of the AMG brand.

Behind the scenes: Backstage AMG.

We glimpse behind the scenes into the dynamic heart of AMG – and discover something truly sensational.

Affalterbach: Home of the AMG spirit.

What has become of tranquil Affalterbach? From small, mighty racing specialists AMG has evolved into the high-performance brand of the Mercedes-Benz universe. From its beginnings in a meadow on the outskirts of the rural community of Affalterbach to the state-of-the-art headquarters of today. Over the past five decades Mercedes-AMG has evolved impressively. A multitude of office buildings and factories have been added to the first workshop hall.

 

The current architecture has been awarded prizes for energy-efficient construction. A natural-gas-powered fuel cell supplies the new logistics center not only with 100 kilowatts of electricity but also with heating and air condition: up to 40 kilowatts are fed into the public grid; on top of that, the fuel cell generates oxygen-reduced air that is diverted into the tyre warehouse. But even the energy produced on the engine test benches doesn’t fizzle away unused but is instead utilised to provide electricity and heating.

From small, mighty racing specialists AMG has evolved into the high-performance brand of the Mercedes-Benz universe.

The right mix: AMG doesn’t burn rubber.

Legions of test cars and prototype vehicles are in use at the AMG headquarters around the clock over the whole year. Millions of test kilometres are travelled around the globe, on racing and test tracks, on public roads. One of the most important wearing parts of this intense development work is round, black and is used every time in quadruplicate: tyres. The logistics and storage of roughly 5,500 high-grip aggressive sport varieties is a challenging task.

To prevent a fire in the tyre warehouse, the oxygen ratio in the air is reduced to around 15 percent – no chance for an accidental fire. Even wanton arson would be difficult here, because any lighter needs at least 16 percent oxygen to be able to ignite. In contrast to the general atmosphere at AMG, the atmosphere in the AMG tyre warehouse is cool: the tyres are stored below 15 degrees Celsius to save energy.

Future needs history.

For a company that comes from racing, it is rather unusual to cultivate its own past with sound judgement: because anyone who strikes a fast pace seldom looks in the rear-view mirror. The documents and stories of the early years of Mercedes-AMG might have been lost – had it not been for the strong identification of some employees from the very beginning. They didn’t just put the remnants of days gone by in the cabinet all the way in the back. Over decades, partly outside of working hours, a vivid and impressive collection of documents, photographs, parts and even classic cars arose.

 

Under the guidance of Michael Clauss, who has been with AMG for 37 years, just as long as AMG has been in Affalterbach, the archive has become a fabulous treasure from which the brand constantly draws its identity.

Hospitality, Swabian style.

For many AMG fans, picking up a new Mercedes-AMG vehicle in Affalterbach is a veritable obligation primarily on account of the factory tour: “One Man – one Engine”. Every mechanic bestows a plaque with his signature upon completion of the engine mounting. In many cases it’s possible for customers on their tour of the engine factory to meet the mechanic who was responsible for the assembly of their engine. A very personal, distinctive experience that brings the AMG team and their customers even closer together.

For many AMG fans, picking up a new Mercedes-AMG vehicle in Affalterbach is a veritable obligation primarily on account of the factory tour.

Right next to the customer lounge is the delivery hall. Dark walls, bright floor, a magical lighting scenario. Here the customer now has plenty of time for their first moments with their new AMG.

Related.

Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Susie Wolff photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.

Mercedes-Benz passenger car calendar.

“She’s Mercedes”: the eye-catcher for 2017.

The star from a feminine point of view.

Twelve women, twelve personalities, twelve automotive characters: the Mercedes-Benz passenger car calendar 2017 is very much themed “She’s Mercedes”. Internationally renowned and influential women each present a Mercedes-Benz model through their own personal perspective. The wall calendar showcases the brand with the star in a unique, emotional way from a feminine point of view.

Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Heike Makatsch photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.
Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Lucy Liu photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.

Testimonials behind the camera.

Whether it’s the AMG GT Coupé, C-Class Cabriolet or an SL Roadster from 1981 – for the wall calendar “She’s Mercedes” 2017 every car is photographically portrayed by a woman. But the testimonials are behind, not in front of the camera. Personalities like the actresses Lucy Liu and Heike Makatsch, the musicians Alison Mosshart and Patti Smith plus ex-racing driver Susie Wolff explain the thoughts which inspired them for their photo motifs.

Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Alison Mosshart photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.

Through her eyes.

Alison Mosshart, front woman of the indie rock band “The Kills”, portrayed the AMG GT sports car: “I wanted to analyse the feeling of a fast car. The speed, the rush – what happens simultaneously in the engine and in the driver’s thoughts. For me it feels lawless, like a Wild West dream scenario when the speed, the loud rumble of the engine and a shouting stereo effect suddenly meet on the open road. Adrenaline, power, bliss, triumph.”

Kerstin Heiligenstetter, Head of She’s Mercedes, comments: “Our twelve women implement their own personal perspectives in completely different, individual photo motifs – ‘through her eyes’, so to speak. Through the expressive photographs the ‘She’s Mercedes’ calendar 2017 facilitates a very feminine, emotional and unusual view of the selected Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG models.”

Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Patti Smith photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.

Available in the Mercedes-Benz Shop.

The Berlin agency antoni is behind the idea, design and implementation of the “She’s Mercedes” passenger car calendar. It is available from all Mercedes-Benz company-owned sales and service outlets and sales partners for £28.50 or in the Mercedes-Benz Shop.

Available in the Mercedes-Benz Shop.

The Berlin agency antoni is behind the idea, design and implementation of the “She’s Mercedes” passenger car calendar. It is available from all Mercedes-Benz company-owned sales and service outlets and sales partners for £28.50 or in the Mercedes-Benz Shop.

Mercedes-Benz She’s Mercedes passenger car calendar 2017: Patti Smith photographs for the She’s Mercedes calendar 2017.

Related.