What’s Wrong With VAG?

Not long after losing Luc Donckerwolke from Bentley, SEAT has lost Stefan Lamm who had only been there for seven months.

Stefan Lamm is moving to Mercedes Benz: carbodydesign.com
Stefan Lamm is moving to Mercedes Benz: carbodydesign.com

CDN reports that Stefan Lamm has left for Mercedes’ advanced design studio in Carlsbad, California. That will be some bill for MB’s HR department when Lamm packs up from SEAT and I imagine SEAT have only just finished processing the expenses.

Lamm has had a remarkable career at Opel and Ford, with his characteristic manner of treating light and shadow as a design element on cars. Presumably he will be bringing this approach to Mercedes Benz production cars in due course. Quite possibly he will also take Ford’s and GM’s more disciplined approach to shutlines and exterior detailing to his new employer where it is most needed.

The other question is why VAG has lost two distinguished designers in a short space of time. While I admire the strength of VAG’s attention to detail, there is a corporate look to their cars which suggests that it might be difficult to impose a more individual design character on their cars.

What one notices about the work of Lamm and Donckerwolke is that none of the cars associated with them have a “Lamm” or “Donckerwolke” look but also they were quite clearly different from the cars done by others. Did VAG’s uniformity discourage them?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

One thought on “What’s Wrong With VAG?”

  1. It’s rather obvious that VAG design under de’ Silva is all about attention to detail and discipline, rather than creativity – the antidote to BMW’s Bangle era, if you will. To further develop the comparison, it is simply impossible to imagine cars as diverse as the Royce Phantom, the E85 Z4 and R50 Mini Cooper sharing a similar creative background. Say about him what you like, but Bangle certainly let his people get on with their own ideas. VAG in general is not about free-spiritedness, and neither is de’ Silva, who isn’t the most imaginative of minds, but excellent at developing clear ideas into convincing concepts – one just has to look at the consistency of VW’s corporate look for an example of this.

    While I’m not claiming that he’s felt as creatively stifled as Donckerwolke and Lamm possibly did, it’s also noteworthy that Giorgetto Giugiaro chose not to simply retire from his post as (figure)head of Italdesign, but to quit. Bearing in mind de’ Silva’s devout stance towards GG, it does become even more apparent that something’s rotten indeed in the state of Volkswagenland.

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