• Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.

    Mercedes-Benz Global Fashion: A World of Engagement.

    Supporting talented designers.

Championing Creativity.

Community is at the core of Mercedes-Benz’s global involvement in fashion. From sponsoring a wide spectrum of fashion weeks ranging from Australia and Mexico to Italy and Russia; to our inclusive International Designer Exchange Program (IDEP) that launched nine years ago and connects promising young designers from around the world to an international audience; it’s clear that Mercedes-Benz has a passion for championing emerging design talent.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.

IDEP: a Network of Talent.

Springboarding talent from local prominence to global relevance, the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program supports and pioneers evolving designers by offering them unique access to key international fashion markets. In the past year alone, the initiative has supported 16 designers, including Festival International de Mode, de photographie et d’accessoires de Mode à Hyères winner of the Grand Prix de Jury Vanessa Schindler showing in Berlin and International Fashion Showcase winner The Sirius for Milan Fashion Week, and has enabled a direct exchange between China-based designer Angel Chen in Milan and Italian Vivetta during Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week.

A History of Emerging Talent.

When Mercedes-Benz became the first title sponsor of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia back in 1995, no one could have predicted the extraordinary relationship with the fashion industry that the brand has cultivated over the past 23 years, but the evolution has continued.

Participating in more than 60 international fashion platforms, including Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks as varied as Tbilisi, Berlin, Istanbul and Madrid, as well as the prestigious 33rd International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessory in Hyères, Mercedes-Benz’s relationship with fashion has evolved into a creative partnership that aims to make the world of style more open and accessible to everyone by creating unique global networks for young designers.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.

Driving the Future of Fashion.

Technology has shined a spotlight on promoting inclusivity within fashion. The Mercedes-Benz “Generation Now, Generation Next” was the #mbcollective fashion story for 2017, uniting global talent with their accompanying protégés. For 2018, the next stage of the fashion story is entitled #WeWonder, a manifesto that brings together seven of the world’s most innovative and inspiring visionaries to share their thoughts about the future of the industry.

A Digital Revolution.

Mercedes-Benz aims to spark a global conversation about the evolution of fashion in a digital age and the potentiality of the future – generating a whole new approach to the traditional campaign and shifting towards the fast-paced world of digital. This approach to the distribution of fashion content offers a pivotal chance for everyone to get involved and contribute throughout the year, with a series of global events, appearances and digital activations.

Mercedes-Benz’s global fashion Instagram channel is taking the next step and continues to encourage followers to interact, posing their own thoughts on social media.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Engagement has established itself as a key sponsor and supporter of the global fashion sector, addressing customers and target groups.

Stay Connected.

Want to keep up with all things Mercedes-Benz Fashion and everything in between? Then head over to @MercedesBenzFashion to see Mercedes-Benz’s fashion commitment unfold. From emerging IDEP talent, to insights into the international fashion weeks supported by Mercedes-Benz, as well as our digital fashion story – be part of the #mbcollective community and share your thoughts on the future of fashion!

  • smart fortwo cabrio in Hong Kong.

    He says, she says – with the smart fortwo cabrio through Hong Kong.

    Our drivers: Inga Beckmann and Jonathan Maloney. Relationship status: in love. With each other, with the city – and now with the record holder for the tightest turning radius.

    Fuel consumption combined: 4.3 l/100 km;
    combined CO₂ emissions: 99 g/km.2 | Text: Jörg Heuer | Fotos: What the fox studios

Driving in Hong Kong.

Driving in Hong Kong is a unique experience. There’s simply nothing else like it. Just one in twenty citizens owns a car in this mega-city on the Pearl River Delta. Indeed few adults in the city of seven million even hold a driving license. Space is at a premium here and parking – especially in downtown Hong Kong – can be a nerve-wracking experience. The population density peaks on the Kowloon Peninsula at 130,000 people per square kilometre – a figure that is not matched anywhere else in the world. With so many people, parking spaces are few and far between – and astronomically expensive. Private parking facilities can easily cost one thousand euros per month. That’s just to park your car. It’s no surprise then that nine out of ten residents are regular users of the city’s mass transit services. A smart should cut a fine figure in a big city like this. German Inga Beckmann and Hong Kong local Jonathan Maloney are checking it out.

Jon Maloney and Inga Beckmann laughing.
smart fortwo cabrio in front of a red wall.

Big city, small car. A great combination.

Big city, small car. A great combination. Or what do you think? Inga – who moved to Hong Kong from Germany six years ago – grins. Jonathan – a native of Hong Kong – nods enthusiastically. They clearly like what they’re seeing. The cause of their delight is descending in a lift from the third storey of a high-rise car park opposite their studio in the hip neighbourhood of Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island.

Inga actually begins to jump for joy as she snatches up the key to the smart. Inga loves to drive. She doesn’t own a car, but she never misses an opportunity to book a rental whenever her work takes her away from Hong Kong. To this day, she hasn’t driven a single mile in her adopted home.

Hey there, cutie!

Inga: Hey there, cutie! You’re a sweet little thing. Getting to know you is going to be a delight.

Jonathan: I think this might be love at first sight. And it’s dressed up in the colours of Hong Kong’s flag! Oh, by the way, you can call me “Jon”. A short name to match a small car.

Jon strolls around the smart fortwo, counting his steps as he goes – though there aren’t many to count.

smart fortwo cabrio in the streets of Hong Kong.

The doors are so big!

He gently runs his hand across its black hood. Inga glances up at the sky before consulting the weather app on her smartphone. The forecast is for 18 degrees Celsius. A cool wind and cloudy to overcast. Nothing to worry about, she assures us. Today the couple, who often works together and recently shot a feature on legendary music producer Quincy Jones, will be in front of the camera for a change. She’ll photograph him, he’ll photograph her – and their two assistants will photograph them together. With and without the car.

Jon: Look! The doors are so big! I’m amazed! I like cars that are out of the ordinary. And this is so different to all the high-performance sports cars, luxury saloons and SUVs that you see in Hong Kong’s financial and business districts. This smart is perhaps half or a third of the size of an average car here in Hong Kong.

Inga: And best of all, dear Jon: it’s a cabrio. I am genuinely excited. Just driving around with the wind in your face. Gosh, I’ve missed that. Let’s go!

Inga Beckmann and Jon Maloney on a bench laughing.

Many Hongkongers don’t have a driving license.

Inga yanks open the door – only to stop abruptly as she is about to leap in. Jon bursts out laughing. Left-hand traffic is still the rule in this former British colony. Just like in England. Inga is standing at the passenger door.

Jon: I’d love to drive – and you know I could – but I’m not allowed to. At least not on public roads. Like a lot of people in Hong Kong, I don’t have a driving license. You’d better drive for now. But we have got to find somewhere later where I can get behind the driving wheel.

Inga: Then you’d better be nice to me today. Or there’ll be only one person driving this baby and that’s me!

The design is sleek and clear.

After adjusting the mirrors and seats, they settle in and take a moment to appraise the fittings in the cockpit. The design is sleek and clear. Nothing to distract from the driving experience. An automatic transmission. No questions. Inga starts the 71 PS engine and merges into the flowing traffic. It’s a Saturday. A super Saturday for Inga and Jon. We hope.

Jon: Wow! There’s so much space in here! I’m no giant, but the legroom is amazing!

Inga: You don’t realise you’re in a compact vehicle until you look over your shoulder.

Futuristic interior office design is all the rage in Hong Kong.
Colourful decorations in a street in Hong Kong.

It’s the Usain Bolt of the convertible world!

Stopping at a red light, she takes out a stopwatch. On her signal, Jon clicks on a button to open the hood. As if by magic, a ray of sunlight chooses this moment to break through the clouds. Perfect timing.

Inga: Stop! Twelve seconds! Not bad.

Jon: It’s the Usain Bolt of the convertible world!

You opened the hood at the lights. But there’s no need to stop – it works just as well at speed. Be sure to give it a whirl on the motorway later. But – oh no – here comes the rain again. Hong Kong’s weather is notoriously fickle. So down comes the hood again. This time at 50 km/h and without a hitch.

The sense of freedom I get from driving this car is something else.

The journey continues through downtown Hong Kong and then southward, with their assistants following in an A-Class. Crossing a reservoir, Inga heads into the wild beyond. Mountains, palm trees, sea views. There is more to Hong Kong than skyscrapers, merchant banking, and bustling markets. The territory comprises no less than 263 islands, complete with nature reserves, lush forests and stunning beaches. Just under a third of Hong Kong’s total surface area of 1,100 square kilometres has actually been developed. Their first destination: Tai Tam Tuk, a small fishing village in Tai Tam Bay that is popular with water sports enthusiasts. Inga comes here almost every weekend to indulge her passion for wakeboarding.

If traffic is flowing smoothly, the trip to the bay from their apartment in Hong Kong City takes around twenty minutes on the weekend. As she doesn’t own a car, Inga usually takes a taxi. But that could soon change.

Inga: I’ve got to say, the sense of freedom I get from driving this car is something else.

Jon: A car like this really makes sense in a city like Hong Kong. And it would for you in any case. Admit it: you’re already falling in love with it!

Inga: Are you jealous?

Jon: No. I just like to see you smile like this.

Jim, 55, a handsome but weathered looking man who operates a surf school in the bay, greets the couple with a warm handshake. “That’s one cool car you’ve got there. I like it. It’s small, compact. And there’s something sporty about it, too.”

Jon: Could I test drive it here? Maybe do a few circuits of your lot?

Hotel room in Hong Kong.

Sometimes less is more.

Jim shrugs and nods with a smile. Inga tosses the key to her boyfriend. He starts the engine and takes the smart for a quick spin to see whether it truly deserves its unofficial world record for the tightest turning radius. It does. Jon puffs up his chest as he pulls alongside Inga and, jutting his chin upward, flashes her a grin and a thumbs up. Hey Jon, the smart holds the world record, not you. And the best thing about this car? You don’t need to be an expert driver to get the best out of it.

Inga: So how about it? Are you finally going to get your driver’s license?

Jon: I am seriously considering it. Like I said, this smart is one cool car. And it speaks to one of my core beliefs: sometimes less is more.

With the hood down, there’s oodles of space for the couple’s camera equipment and even enough for Inga’s wakeboard!

Drifting along without a care.

Jon parks the cabrio close to the water and takes a seat alongside Inga on the open tailgate. Their assistants manage the shoot before the team hits the highway and heads back to Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island. Jon and Inga raise and lower the hood several times along the way. It looks like someone is having fun. The couple cruises through their neighbourhood.

Then they park the smart in the public underground car park and head to Tim’s Kitchen for lunch. The dishes are Chinese. Steamed vegetables, shrimps and pork. All smiles, they continue their road trip through Hong Kong. Drifting along without a care in the world. Inga lets out a laugh as she spots several pedestrians turning to gaze in delight at the compact cabriolet, some even whipping out their smartphones to take a snapshot of this rare sight in Hong Kong.

Chinese Dim Sum on a plate.
smart fortwo cabrio driving along a street in Hong Kong.

The engine takes on a more sonorous note.

Inga: Let’s head over to the red monastery wall. From there it’s just a couple of blocks to Teakha Teahouse.

Jon: Sure. Those are both great locations for photo shoots.

They really are. And the tea – about ten euros per person – is worth every penny. But Jon and Inga have saved the best part of their road trip for last. A gorgeous serpentine road snakes its way up to the summit of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak (552 metres) – possibly one of the most beautiful drives on Earth. Inga switches the cabrio to manual drive. The engine takes on a more sonorous note. Rising to the challenge, the music grows louder.


Meanwhile, Jon leans back and takes in the view: below them lie the waters of Victoria Harbour, its shores lined with the skyscrapers that dominate the skylines of Hong Kong Central and the Kowloon Peninsula, their towering forms swathed in a steamy haze.

Jon: Wow.

Inga: It’s so beautiful.

And? How was your road trip through Hong Kong?

Jon and Inga (unanimously): smart!

smart fortwo cabrio in front of a graffitied wall.
  • 1

    With hand and heart - real manual work.

    Forging, planing, riveting, sewing: a handful of manufacturers still cleave to the high art of fine handcrafts. The result: sophisticated products made by accomplished artisans.

    Text: Marc Bielefeld

Dedication, dexterity, and ­patience are essential.

What does it take to build the best sailplanes in the world? No, not a computer. And not laser-controlled milling machines or data-fuelled 3-D printers. Skilled hands are the essential ingredients. Nestled in the Rhön Mountains, Schleicher is a world-leading manufacturer of sailplanes. The snow-white surfaces of these elegant sailplanes are still formed and polished by hand. Millimetre for millimetre, using ever finer sandpaper until eventually the paper is softer than a page of newsprint. Dedication, dexterity, and ­patience are essential.

Intuition and Passion.

And these breathtakingly beautiful sailplanes are just one example. Many workshops and factories continue to prize traditional skills over high-tech manufacturing processes. Skills that require keen eyesight and a steady hand, sensitivity and strength, knowledge that is gained through years of experience and – perhaps most crucially – the inimitable art of thinking with your head, your heart, and your gut. Intuition. Passion.

Lost in silent reverie.

Watchmakers sit at precision vices for hours at a time, deftly manipulating the movements of timepieces with their minute mainsprings, wheel trains, and escapements. Porcelain painters embellish the surfaces of their pieces with brushes made from the finest sable, plucked from the soft underbelly of Siberian squirrels. The stunning beauty of hand-forged Damascus steel testifies to a passion for something more than cold efficiency and precision, with knife-makers often spending weeks at their forges as they perfect their blades. Lost in silent reverie, they fold layer upon layer of steel.

It should be flawless.

These skilled artisans are united in their passion for flawless workmanship, smooth surfaces and fine angles, for materials that delight and for the perfect composition of line, curve, form, and function. It is a passion that borders on obsession. A passion that instrument-makers share with pastry chefs, compass manufacturers, saddlers, cobblers and many others. But in the end it is difficult to say what really makes for excellent craftsmanship. The work of an accomplished tradesperson should flatter the hand and the eye, of course. It should be flawless. And more.

Made with love.

It is impossible to put a price on the sensibility that shapes these objects. The accomplished tradesperson can breathe life into an object, filling it with near indescribable beauty. In a world of throwaway gimmickry and cold efficiency, their creations are an expression of a world view that prizes proficiency. Many tradespeople make a conscious decision to turn their backs on the ever-churning cogs of mass production. They disappear behind their workbenches and dedicate themselves to a single-minded passion. The fruits of their labours are instantly recognisable and frequently elicit a timeless response: “Made with love.”


  • Needle and thread.

    Siegfried Schröttner bends to examine a large piece of leather. Closing his eyes, he caresses ­ its surface with his hand. Feeling, smelling. Only the best ­full-grain leather treated with organic mine­ral-based tanning agents meets with his approval. If ­Schröttner comes across the slightest flaw – an insect bite or some other barely perceptible impurity – he will cast a piece aside without so much as batting an eyelid. Quality is everything when it comes to fitting a G-Class. Siegfried Schröttner and his colleagues have more than enough to do selecting the materials. Around 22,000 square metres of untreated leather are on hand at designo manufaktur – over 200,000 square metres are handled by their artisans every year. Layers of fine Nappa and Lugano leather, sourced from bulls raised in Central Europe. After passing under the merciless gaze of the quality controller, the leather undergoes a series of tests to assess its tensile strength, shrinkage characteristics, and climatic responsiveness. Only leather that achieves good grades across the board is passed on to the cutting room. There, an array of presses, water-jet cutters, and splitting and skiving machines awaits. Sections of leather are cut to a pattern using precision punching knives that are accurate down to the last millimetre. But the finest work is yet to come – steady hands are now required.

    And Anita Rathkolb and Klaudia Eicher have the steadiest hands in the game. Together, the two are masters in the fine art of Indianapolis stitching, using curved upholstery needles to trim interior door handles with leather and hand-finished top-stitching. “Concentration, good eyes and a soft touch are essential,” explains Anita Rathkolb. Many of the sections they work on – such as the elevated passenger grab handles – are all but inaccessible. There isn’t a machine in the world that can top-stitch the inner face of a rounded object. “You have to commit the precise shape of every component to memory,” says Anita Rathkolb. And if that isn’t enough: the G-Class invites owners to make a statement with custom ornamental seams, leather colouring, and tufting. Sophisticated top-stitching sets off the mirrors, head restraints, seats – even the vehicle’s centre console beguiles with fine accents. And all this in a range of colours: saddle brown, silk beige, deep-sea blue. There’s a reason why so many drivers and passengers compare the off-road experience of the G-Class to a luxury lounge. It’s not just the tech­nology. Mercedes-Benz has perfected the fine art of designing exquisite vehicle interiors over the course of seventy years. Bits and bytes simply can’t compete with that kind of experience. Nothing can beat a needle and thread, a hand and a heart.

  • Porcelain.

  • A question of mass.

    Thick mechanical belts criss-cross the room to the thrum of mixing vats and the hiss of valves. The filter press and kneading machine have served at the paste mill for over a century. Here, everything is as it once was. Hydropower still drives the machines. This room is like a second home to Dieter Zeus. The miller has been producing porcelain paste for Nymphenburg Porcelain for 37 years – he is one of the few to have been initiated into the secrets of its production. Mixing the special blend of feldspar, quartz, and kaolin is an art form. Kaolin lends porcelain its strength, feldspar its lustre. The exact formula is a closely guarded secret. Once the ground raw kaolin has been cleansed, the quartz and feldspar are ground in drum mills for some 30 hours. The kaolin slurry is then mixed with the milled minerals in a vat and the resulting paste is then pumped into the filter press. In the next step, Zeus must live up to his namesake. Standing beside the filter press, he must use all his strength to depress its lever until the paste emerges in the form of a square cake. While doing so, he must also pay attention to the suppleness and homogeneity of the porcelain paste. “It takes years of experience to develop a feeling for the consistency of the perfect porcelain mass.” And something else: muscle power.

  • Damascus steel.

  • A labour of love.

    Standing at his forge, Luca Distler studies the ­glowing, 1,200-degree embers intently. Sparks fly, hot slag spits across the workshop. Distler thrusts a pair of tongs bearing a “parcel” of steel weighing 2.5 kilograms into the flames. From this raw mass, the smith will craft his knives. Fire welding is conducted over glowing coals and requires smiths to first produce the material from which a product is formed. Distler’s knives are forged from a special alloy, the nature of which he declines to divulge, comprising three different types of steel.

    The parcel – a stack of five layers of steel – must now be heated evenly. As the steel begins to glow, the forge hisses and snarls. Then, Distler folds the hot layers together, as if closing a book. And again. And again. Gripping a heavy hammer in the other hand, he strikes the layered steel several times. Then folds it again before striking it anew. Layer upon layer of steel is forced upon the last as ­Distler toils in the heat, striking and folding the mass again and again to form a blank of 320 layers of finest ­Damascus steel. And the secret to its quality? Tradition. Layering the steel lends the blades both strength and their striking patterning. Each knife is distinctive. Each has its own character.

    Knife making is hard work. “It’s akin to lifting weights all day – heavy, glowing dumb balls,” says Distler. “I’m exhausted by nightfall.” And the knives are far from finished. These raw blanks must be forged again and their blades shaped. This is followed by grinding, smoothing, and polishing. The steel must be treated with acid to bring out the pattern. And the surface buffed until it is smoother than a mirror. The grips are carved from desert ironwood and water buffalo horn, or formed from bog oak and ancient mammoth ivory reco­vered from the Russian permafrost. When all this is done, the blades are engraved and adorned with silver rivets and mother-of-pearl inlays. Occasionally customers approach Distler and his partner Florian Pichler with special requests, and the knife-makers have in the past fashioned custom grips decorated with leopard heads or nudes.

    Some knives are made in two days, on others the two perfectionists might work for up to 300 hours. It is a passion that borders on the insane. But perhaps that’s what it takes to make a knife that is both breathtakingly beautiful and so sharp that you could quite literally split hairs with its blade.

  • Piano.

  • Pitch perfect.

    Building a concert piano is a complex undertaking. The first challenge is to select a suitable piece of wood from which to craft the soundboard – the soul of the instrument. C. Bechstein uses only mountain spruce grown at elevations above 1,000 metres for this purpose. Many other components are crafted from maple, beech or mahogany. A concert piano consists of around 20,000 individual parts – from back posts to casing walls to keys and hammers to the playing mechanism and frame – and the construction of a single piano can take up to a whole year. The role of piano-maker Katrin Schmidt in this undertaking is a particularly meticulous one: Schmidt must tune and intonate the instrument’s 230 strings. Her task is made all the more difficult by the piano’s steel strings, which lose their tension frequently until the piano has matured. And what’s more, young pianos are sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature and humidity. Her work is a tightrope act, akin to making music from a horde of children humming wildly different tunes.

    To achieve her goal, she must re-tune the instrument again and again, tightening and stretching its strings. All 230 strings must be tuned at least four times. Applying a tuning lever to each of the piano’s tuning pins, Schmidt must carefully adjust the strings to their proper tension – a task that requires the utmost patience and a fine ear. A tuning metre is used to set the concert pitch – after that, Ms Schmidt must be all ears. “Mastering the process,” she explains, “takes a lot of practice. When I began my apprenticeship I spent three hours every day doing just one thing: tuning, tuning, tuning.”

    Next up: the hammer heads. These are the little “mallets” that actually strike the piano strings. It is vital that they are properly fitted. Deviations of a tenth of a millimetre in their angulation, spacing, or height can detract considerably from the tonality of a concert piano. Following this, Schmidt attends to the piano’s intonation, adjusting the hammers repeatedly until the instrument finds its true voice. Each of the piano’s eighty-eight Australian merino wool-tipped hammer heads must be tuned for this. To do so, Schmidt pricks at the felt-tipped heads with an intonation needle, altering their shape, density and elasticity until their timbre and volume are in perfect harmony. An art form, intonation is all but inexplicable. Each and every hammer head has its own inner life and character. “You have to sense it,” Katrin Schmidt remarks on what is perhaps the most sacred moment in the construction of a concert piano. To give a piano its proper voice is to breathe life into the instrument. A craft and a calling of its own. And a feast for the ears

  • 1

    A sixth sense for wood.

    Johann Paintmeier is Bulthaup’s veneer expert. Even as a boy, he knew: “I want to work with wood.” Today it is his job to select fine timber for the company. Wood with the most beautiful of grains. He even stumbles across of 2,000-year-old bog oak from time to time.

'The forest is a contemplative place.'

Mr Paintmeier, do you go to the forest often?

Naturally. The forest is a contemplative place. I love the forest. And it is the source of our product. I am never closer to the trees than I am there.

Where is your wood sourced from?

I visit dealers in Germany and Europe as many as twelve times a year to inspect their inventories. The majority of our wood is purchased in the spring. The trees are felled and processed in the winter, making spring the best time of year to obtain wood.

Is there something akin to a caviar of the timber world?

Yes. Rare woods like bog oak crop up from time to time. The dealers are usually quick to call us when that happens.

A bog oak, 2970 years old.

Bog oak?

That would be an absolute stroke of luck – particularly if the wood was suitable for manufacturing veneer. The trunk needs to be intact. And for that to occur, the tree has to lie below the surface – ­depriving the wood of oxygen – in bog-like conditions for between one and three thousand years.

How do you know how old the trees are?

Their age can be determined very precisely by ­carbon analysis. We were recently offered a bog oak that was 2,970 years old.

What makes it so special?

Its intensely dark colouration, which ranges from black-grey to dark brown. Bog oak is very sophisticated. Few customers have a wood of that quality in their kitchens.

'And I have to smell the wood, of course.'

How do you recognize good wood?

By examining its grain. How did the tree grow? Is it so pleasing to the eye that it could be used to compose an object of beauty? I have to feel the wood. Touch it. Its strength and its grain are the decisive factors. And I have to smell the wood, of course. It should smell of nature.

Does wood have a personality?

Oh yes! Like a human fingerprint, each trunk is unique. The grain tells the life story of the tree. In what climate and in what soil did it grow? Wood is a living material. And that is what makes each of our kitchens unique.

The sweetness in life.

Does each type of wood have its own character?

Yes. Olive is very expressive. Just think of its grain. Its pattern can be calm or wild. The colours are always different. Sometimes yellow. Sometimes almost green. Then just shy of red.

Are there any down-to-earth fellows among the trees?

Yes, the oak. A classic. A resilient wood with slight variations in its colouring and structure. Oak has lived beside us in our homes for over two thousand years. With its appealing dark colouration, the walnut is rather more exotic. Walnut represents the sweetness in life.

'I am a passionate whittler.'

How do you transform a tree into a kitchen?

We immerse the trunk in a basin at 50–60 Celsius for several days to ensure that the wood is not damaged during processing. Then it is cut and brushed to lend the surface more texture. The veneer sheets are then stored before the actual manufacturing process begins.

Mr Paintmeier, what do you do when you’re not manufacturing veneer or studying wood grains?

I am a passionate whittler. I find it very soothing. And I like to spend time in the forest that I bought twenty years ago. I look at the trees and imagine how the forest might appear a century from now when future generations can hopefully still enjoy walking beneath its canopy.


A different point of view

Automotive photographer Amy Shore
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Amy Shore’s photography is about stories, not objects.

The room lightens up whenever Amy Shore laughs. And she laughs a lot. The 26-year-old automotive photographer is enthusiastic about her job – and not afraid to show it. This could be one of the reasons why Shore is so successful despite her young age. Another is the way she captures stories with her images: Shore’s automotive photography focuses on people as much as it focuses on vehicles. So while her photography features beautiful cars on a regular basis, it isn’t short of owners, drivers, craftsmen or mechanics, either.

“I want to meet the people behind the car,” says Shore. “I want to know everything about them, find out about their love for the car and their stories.” That, she says, would work best if they felt comfortable. “The first thing I do is try to get on with the person. Once they start opening up, that’s when I start working. I want to document stories, not objects.”

That’s why Shore prefers to work with cars that have a decent amount of history themselves: vintage cars. She has been fascinated by them ever since she was a teenager. “Initially, it was the lifestyle of the cars that interested me the most. The owners, the drivers, they all have their own story with the car. They have driven them miles and miles, on family vacations to the sea or on their everyday commute to work.” An owner once told her that he had driven the equivalent of the distance to the moon. Shore laughs whenever she tells stories like that. “I mean, the moon! Can you believe this?“

Amy Shore and her dad talking

The small room in her house in Leicestershire, where Shore edits her pictures and prepares for upcoming jobs, is also filled with stories. Paintings and photographs – not her own, she rarely has them printed – decorate the space above her desk, and the bookshelf boasts a collection of magazines that have featured her photography. The magazines are renowned: Ramp, Revolution, Octane, there’s hardly an important name that’s missing. Next to them sits an older, sepia-tainted photograph. It shows a young man on a motorbike, an SLR around his neck – Shore’s father. “I should really get that framed,” she says and smiles while looking at it.

It was because of him that Shore first became interested in cars, and he was the one to give Shore her first camera. “Whenever we were outside, he would stop and show me things he thought looked interesting. He would tell me about the way the light was reflected in a window or how moving around and looking at something from a different angle would affect the composition of an image.” Shore continues to discuss her photography with her father, who is an artist himself. “No one else has affected my work as much as he has.”


Photojournalistic is the word Shore uses when asked about her style. She documents meticulously whenever she is on a job and brings along two cameras whenever she shoots. She doesn’t want to waste time switching lenses, that’s why she wears the cameras on a leather strap to have them ready at all times. She has figured out that this is all the equipment she needs, though. “My first automotive shooting happened very spontaneously,” says Shore. “And I had only ever photographed people, but I thought ‘why not’?” Shore is not someone to let an opportunity pass.

I want to meet the people behind the car. The first thing I do is try to get on with the person. Once they start opening up, that’s when I start working. Amy Shore

In order to prepare for the job, she looked at automotive photography online. “I basically just went online, opened Google, and typed in ‘how to photograph a car,’” she says, shrugging apologetically. The results showed lots of flashes, and lots of editing. “And I thought, oh, okay, well, I have one flash. I’ll just try this and see how it goes,” she says. She turns off the search engine and decides to just organize the shooting by her own rules. With a rough idea, a first draft, yet without over-planning – and without a flash. Her approach seems to work. Shore receives a lot of praise for the photos online – and a lot of new assignments.


Up until today, Shore has stayed true to her method. She is always present, always alert. She documents everything that is going on around her and is always looking for new moments to capture. She moves back and forth, looking for new angles and perspectives. Not having to carry a lot of equipment allows her to move around as quickly as she talks. And where other photographers use flashes and soft boxes to search for perfection and a glossy appearance, Shore finds the characters behind the cars; the owners, drivers, the craftsmen or the mechanics.

  • Mercedes-Benz Deutschland: national social media campaign #GrowUpLikeThis.

    A Guide to Growing Up.

    Heiner Lauterbach searching for the new grown-ups.

Rethinking Social Content.

Mercedes-Benz Deutschland has developed a national social media campaign for the five compact car models A-Class, B-Class, CLA Coupé, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA. On 23 May 2017, elbkind started an influencer campaign in which the topic of “growing up” is illustrated authentically on the Internet using real stories and personalities – and by using a completely new format. With a combination of a scripted background story and unscripted interviews, Mercedes-Benz is breaking with the convention of a typical influencer marketing strategy. The result is social content which is both authentic and high quality in terms of dramatization.

Mercedes-Benz Deutschland: national social media campaign #GrowUpLikeThis with Benjamin Melzer.
Mercedes-Benz Deutschland: national social media campaign #GrowUpLikeThis with Martin Stieber, Paul Ripke and Heiner Lauterbach.

Grow up – like this?

The international umbrella campaign called “Grow up” was launched in March and presents five different stories within a wide range of content created. In line with the umbrella campaign, the national German campaign is now also re-interpreting conventional values about becoming an adult.

The social media lead agency, elbkind, has put the prominent actor, Heiner Lauterbach, who has had an eventful past himself, at the centre of the campaign. On a journey through Germany, Lauterbach tries to get to the bottom of what it means to become an adult, visiting special individuals who share their views with him on the subject.

The protagonists.

The unconventional nature of the characters he chooses is the intriguing thing: from transgender model Benjamin Melzer – once a woman and now a man, “One Night in Rio” photographer and school drop-out Paul Ripke, hip hop legend Martin Stieber and “Fack Ju Göhte” actress Gizem Emre to the “This is Jayne Wayne” authors Nike van Diether and Sarah Gottschalk who champion a new view of women on their fashion and lifestyle blog, and the Swedish-born “Berlin Food Stories” founder Per Meurling, who is now known worldwide as a food expert for Berlin.

Mercedes-Benz Deutschland: national social media campaign #GrowUpLikeThis with Sarah Gottschalk and Nike van Diether.
Mercedes-Benz Deutschland: national social media campaign #GrowUpLikeThis with Maya and Heiner Lauterbach.

A Guide to Growing Up.

The web series ends on a very personal note when Lauterbach meets his own daughter Maya who is on the verge of entering adulthood, thus expanding the discussion to include the view of yet another generation.

The campaign starts with a teaser video presenting the topic and previewing the 5 YouTube videos entitled “A Guide to Growing Up”. The videos are complemented by additional content and interactive elements across all the social media platforms.

The whole campaign is hashtagged with #GrowUpLikeThis and will be published on the YouTube-Channel of Mercedes-Benz Germany.
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