VW Media Services reports that Stefan Sielaff is to take over as design chief following the departure of Luc Donckerwolke.
Sielaff will be a busy chap as he as also responsible for VW group’s interior design strategy. Of the two jobs, perhaps that is the most challenging as requires finding imaginative ways to justify the price differentials between VW’s many brands. Sielaff starts at Bentley in July. Donckerwolke was only at Bentley for three years meaning that for much of his tenure he was watching the work of his predecessor being released while his own efforts will be launched with Sielaff occupying his former post. Donckerwolke
leaves VW with this letter of recommendation from Walter de Silva: “Luc Donckerwolke has played a key role in the design of various Group brands. We would like to thank him for his work.” VW’s resume of Sielaff’s work is as follows: “Stefan Sielaff (53), currently Head of the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam, will assume responsibility for design at the Bentley brand effective July 1, 2015 in addition to his present post as Head of Group Interior Design Strategy. As Director of Design at Bentley, Sielaff succeeds Luc Donckerwolke (49), who held this function since 2012.
Stefan Sielaff joined the Volkswagen Group in 1990, beginning his career in the interior design department at Audi. From 1995 the design graduate was entrusted with setting up the Group’s Design Center Europe in Spain. In 1997 he was placed in charge of the Design Studio in Munich and was appointed Head of Audi Interior Design in the same year. In 2003 Sielaff moved to DaimlerChrysler as Design Director of the Interior Competence Center, returning to the Volkswagen Group in 2006 to become Head of Audi Design before being appointed Head of the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam und Head of Group Interior Design Strategy in 2012. In his new function as Director of Design at Bentley, Sielaff reports to Rolf Frech, Board Member for Engineering. In his function as Head of Group Interior Design Strategy he continues to report to Walter de Silva, Head of Group Design.”
Recenltly Donckerwolke caused some perturbation in the small and clubby world of car design by criticising Lincoln’s Continental concept which was said to have more than a passing resemblance to Bentley’s design themes. On his Facebook page he asked of Lincoln “Do you want us to send you the product tooling?” The comment was considered “offensive” by Lincoln’s designer, David Woodhouse, according to Automotive News During his time at Volkswagen, Donckerwolke was responsible for the designs of the Audi R8 Le Mans, the Lamborghini Murcielago and Lamborghini Gallardo, as well as the Seat Tribu SUV concept. He also won the prestigious Red Dot design award, writes Automotive News.
No reasons were cited for Donckerwolke’s departure.
10 thoughts on “Bentley Has A New Design Chief; Luc Donckerwolke Leaves”
Odd. Just as Donckerwolke seemed to be getting to grips with Bentley’s design language, off he pops. Perhaps he became worn down by empire politics and has received a better offer elsewhere?
Maybe that better offer came from Lincoln?
Car Design News thinks he might be bound for a tech company in California pondering entry into the motor industry whose Chief Design Officer has a penchant for Bentleys. Or so the ‘rumour mill’ turns.
That would be a far more interesting roll than polishing the curvature analysis graphs at VAG.
The salary would be enormous too. I wouldn’t say moving to California is such a hoot. Money can’t buy everything.
With Sielaff having been released from VAG’s Antarctica (aka the Potsdam studio), the one remaining mystery is where Wolfgang Egger went and why after he left/was ousted from Italdesign.
Personally, I believe Sielaff is a better choice to head Bentley design than Donckerwolke. The recent Continental facelift was rather poor (what with that Lamborghiniesque front air intake), and Sielaff, in contrast, has always had a penchant for Anglo-Saxon style – not to mention a flair for good cabins.
Oh, I seem to have forgotten about another VAG designer having gone AWOL: Dirk van Braekel (Donckerwolke’s predecessor) is probably playing cards with Chris Bird inside the Pentagon’s War Room at this very moment.
Presumably all these people can find generously remunerated jobs in anonymous Tier 1 suppliers safe in the knowedge they never have to participate in the viciously competitive world near the tops of these corporations. Chris Bird appears to have accepted a pleasantly low key job in Ford. I suppose it’s a nuisance to move from such a nice region. Eggers et al are all probably nicely off with a decent pension and lots of savings. They can afford to take quiet jobs by this point in their careers. It’s the car design equivalent of opening a pub after leaving First Division soccer.
Well, if Donckerwolke’s taste in sweaters is anything to go by, he’ll fit right in as the ying to Schreyer’s yang. Or is it the other way round? Good to observe DTW’s hitherto dormant Middle Earth correspondent has been reactivated. I do hope he hasn’t gone Bourne on us. You can never tell. I do notice his penchant for fragile Italian trinkets hasn’t abated, which is encouraging. Nice to see you back Mark…
Autocar reports that Automotive News Europe has read an article by motoring.com.au that Luc Donckerwolke has gone to Korea to ensure an orderly succession when Peter Schreyer retires. http://www.motoring.com.au/news/2015/small-passenger/hyundai/another-ex-vw-man-to-head-hyundai-design-51826 Motoring.com.au, the motoring editorial content arm of carsales.com.au, say that not only do sources say this is so, but furthermore that insiders insist. So it must be true. Perhaps Autotrader knows where Dirk van Braeckel has gone, and mobile.de can find Wolfgang Egger. (Apologies to carsales.com.au for the classified ads sites can’t have industry news scoops snarkiness, I prefer my speculative news about car designers to come from the gossip column at Car Design News- oh…. they’ve quoted you too http://www.cardesignnews.com/articles/news/2015/06/is-luc-donckerwolke-heading-to-hyundai-kia-as-long-term-schreyer-replacement/) In other news, I can report that carsales.com.au has a 1970 Lancia Fulvia Sport 1.3 for sale for AUD$35,000 http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/Lancia-Fulvia-1970/SSE-AD-3186066/?Cr=1 In a Driven to Write exclusive, insiders insist that the Ercole Spada designed coupe will not be moving to New Zealand. Sources familiar with the matter indicated that although the Lancia appeared to be in excellent condition, and indeed that Australia has a far better selection of Lancias for sale than in New Zealand, that the price sought was too high for the potential buyer in question. Confidential confidantes were unable to comment on the specifics of the failed deal, but indicated that the anonymous buyer went and looked for an old Alfa Romeo instead.
Thanks for that update which I happened to read at TTAC as well. It included the obligatory image of LD in a white polo neck sweater. So much for the rumours he was going to work at a Silicone Valley e-car maker. We will see his first work at a car show in spring, I expect.
LD moved to Hyundai and a hot job figuring out how to make Genesis un-Hyundai.