Crease Is The Word – Vision A Unmasked

Lines and creases – so last season.

The Blessed One in person. Image:

This week has seen the unveiling of Mercedes’ latest concept, previewing the styling direction to be taken by the next generation of A-Class-series Mercedes models. Concept A was previewed earlier in the year with a conceptual sculpture and a toe-curling lecture by the blessed one on how his signature design theme was evolving. Since then, he’s completed a glossy coffee table book in conjunction with Conde Nast, called “Sensual Purity: Gorden Wagener on Design” and is rumoured to be working with Eyna on a concept album to accompany it.

The blessed one was on hand to announce the latest evolution of Sensual Purity® at Shanghai, but the big news was not just the concept car itself – which was of course both sensual and pure, but Gorden himself, who has undergone something of a sensual makeover himself. The fashion world is said to be agape at his Gorden-ness’ alt-casual get up, a leading couture head being heard to sigh into a tiny mobile phone; ‘Gorden is just so hot right now’.

Concept A – Sensual. Image: allaguida

But Mercedes’ Chief Design Officer had more pressing matters on his beautiful mind, telling a smitten press corps; “The Concept A Saloon shows that the time of creases is over, with its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of ‘Sensual Purity’ and has the potential to introduce a new design era.” Carnage ensued, and several members of the press pack are believed to have fainted in the ensuing melee.

The W176 A-Class family of cars has been a major success for Mercedes. Since its introduction in 2012 more than 2 million A-class derived models have been sold globally. It took fifteen years and two generations for the previous (loss-making) incarnation to reach similar sales heights. But unlike its predecessors, the current model line is actually bolstering Daimler’s bottom line and is a significant contributor to the luxury car giant’s past six years of growth.

Concept A – Pure. Image: Car

This makes the next generation A-Class a real ‘don’t screw the pooch moment. Just as well Gorden’s a genius. Vision A then gives us a broad hint of what we can expect a three-volume A-Class to resemble. But is it a saloon or a CLA-style coupe thingy? Nobody seems certain. Mercedes sources suggest the A -Class family will run to as many as eight different iterations, so it’s not beyond reason that both body styles will be offered.

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How close to production reality can we expect this to be? Well here I refer you to 2012’s ‘Concept Style Coupe’, the precursor to the current CLA, dubbed by Mercedes-Benz at the time as ‘The style rebel’. [Remember to breathe].

The press pack contained the following quote from the blessed one(sic), which states; “The almost production-standard Concept Style Coupé sets a new benchmark for avantgarde design in the executive segment. Its breathtaking proportions, sinewy fluid surfaces and sculptural lines are the physical expression of our dynamic design idiom.” Well Gordo, it’s good but it’s not exactly Sensual Purity®, is it?

But not only did it fall short on the SP-O-meter however, it also fell a bottomless chasm short of reality, because the CLA’s transition from concept to squashed production reality lost every screed of stylistic appeal along the way. All of which augers well for the upcoming generation, wouldn’t you say?

To be fair, Shanghai’s Concept A is a calmer looking device and the loss of the production car’s fussy surfacing can only be viewed with fervent relief, but just like the recent AMG Concept GT shown at Geneva, the reduction appears to lack much of any recognisable Mercedes-Benz flavour.

Image: Car

When the blessed one graced us with his words back in February, he said; “Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme.” However, what you tend to find when lines and creases are reduced to the extreme is that there is very little left visually to hang your magic marker on. Anyway why stop there? The logical conclusion is to have no body at all. It mightn’t be very sensual, but it would certainly be pure.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

36 thoughts on “Crease Is The Word – Vision A Unmasked”

  1. The line about the rumoured concept album with Enya was genius and just had me laugh out loud in the Costa drive thru just on the edge of Banbury. Why are so many designers so completely up themselves?

    I read an interview with Walter da Silva the other day – who is now designing shoes with his wife (!) – and be came across as a perfectly charming man, proud and yet modest about his car designing achievements, of which there are a few … It’s called class, dear Gordon, get over yourself, will ya!

    1. Wagener isn’t untalented. His cars aren’t totally awful. This new small saloon is quite okay. The sky-zoomimg pseudo intellectual verbiage destroys his credibility with me. The question is, does anyone else fall for it?
      Designers should talk about their work functionally and leave the interpretations to others. Gorden Wagener talks about the cars from the wrong standpoint.

  2. The last time I heard similar pretentious guff it was coming from the mouth of Apple’s Jony Ive. Jony is ahead of Gorden (sic) though, insomuch as he no longer takes a physical form, now existing only as pure energy in an immaculate white room deep in Cupertino.

    To my eyes, the Concept A as pictured is a good-lucking car. Although the rear is too Lexus-like for my taste and the headlight and grill arrangement is another variation on the modern Aston Martin Lagonda and Pininfarina H600 concept theme.

    1. That should of course have been “good-looking”. My apologies.

    2. “in an immaculate white room”
      He’d still complain it was too cluttered. That man is the Rasputin of UIX.

  3. Gorden’s (sic) NEXT BIG THING is, of course, the all-new ‘Determined Performance’® snout. With this newest genius innovation, it appears to be only a matter of time before the S-class is finally rid of its old-fashioned proud three-pointed star.

    ‘We at Mercedes-Benz are beyond mascots. We don’t need them, we don’t want them. Shapes are what defines is, which is why our new ‘Determined Performance’ grille is all about shapes. A circle within a scowling oval. This is as simple as it is challenging. We want to get customers out of their comfort zones. We want them to evolve from customers into evaluators of taste. We are beyond styling, and so should be our customers’, Daimler AG’s Chief Creative Officer proclaimed, before going to have a shower.

    1. Might we soon glassy-eyed acolytes from The Temple Of Sensual Purity roaming the streets in obeisance to the Wurd Of Gordun, breaking the loathsome stars off the snouts of unreconstructed Benzes and melting them down to form a huge effigy of The Sensual One?

    2. ‘Horizontal Affinity is a lie! Vertical Homogeneity a deception! Be sensual! Attain purity! BELIEVE IN THE WAGENER!’

  4. I’ve identified a problem with Concept A – Wagener’s team seem to have based on an entirely different platform. As we all know, the front-drive A class platform requires a large snout and long front overhang to cover the oily bits. I hope Gorden isn’t too cross when he finds out!

    As for the book, it’s vanity publishing in its purest form. But sensual too, of course! Gerry McGovern must be consumed with envy.

    1. You are correct, they have designed it for the wrong platform. When I saw the nose the proportions reminded me of the BMW e46, a car whose proportions I have always enjoyed. Then I read it’s for the A-class. Ho ho ho. Sure it is.

      But Cord was able to pull off FWD with an engine aft of the leading axle so maybe they will surprise us.

  5. Thank you Eóin, very amusing. Is it wrong that I find Concept A attractive? I’m sure the production car will be ruined by the unfortunate necessity for functioning handles. I hear that Mercedes are developing proximity detectors that open the doors upon detecting the owner’s sense of smug self satisfaction, but R&D are struggling to calibrate and test the device whilst Gorden Wagener is in the building.

  6. Only the fact that I am about to drink some coffee (and maybe so are you) has stopped me from posting a picture of a long, sleek, rounded turd here to speculate on where Gordyn’s grand quest for reducing creases and lines to the extreme might end up.

    I’m usually tolerant (well a bit) of designer guff since it’s a tough world out there, and if you don’t big yourself up, no-one else will, but Gurdun’s recent utterings (and a book for fuck’s sake) really take it too, too far.

    Worst of all, of course, is that Concept A is pretty good looking. But that is ‘pretty good looking’ Gardon, which isn’t the same as the Second Coming.

  7. Sorry to invoke the J-word (as opposed to the L-word, or indeed the C-word). But I cannot look at Mercedes’ Wagenerised saloons and coupés without imagining a leaper on the boot. Indeed, I believe that the first CLS, which let’s face it kicked off the bent-bananarama in Stuttgart, was internally referred to by Mercedes as a “Jaguar killer”?

    1. I agree that it looks good and it does have that feline air to it! There is something of the Giulia about it too. I am still occasionally chuckling to myself about the Enya jibe – for some reason it has struck a chord.

      TWBCM did a recent paean to the man via what I thought was a fairly lame and sycophantic interview. The impression it left was that he had single handedly saved MB design, righting the wrongs of every soul that ever wielded a pencil of CAD machine for MB before him. I wouldn’t mind, really, but there is nothing truly special about the current crop of MB vehicles, which seem to take their main inspiration from Richard Woolley’s Rover 75, which was a car with masterly surfacing of the flanks, as was the Alfa 156.

  8. Another point about Gerdon is that he is like the torturer who you end up thanking when he stops hurting you. There he is, hand nonchalantly in pocket, like an ex-member of a boy band making a comeback in early middle-age, and he’s your chum, assuring you that “The Days Of Creases Are Over”. Look Girdin, I never asked for all those bloody creases in the first place – you did it, you’re the culprit. The least you can do is stop plastering them randomly over all your cars. You never should have done so in the first place. Am I supposed to think you are smart for actually producing a tolerably balanced design after all this time?

    1. Can I put it like this: very few people are moved by design discussions. Those who are are not impressed by design discussions where the designer describes the subjective impression of the work as if it is an objective fact.
      Here’s an example of the sensible artist: “I wanted to show a cat on a mat. The cat is shown sleeping. It made sense to choose muted colours.”
      Not sensible: “My cat painting vividly evokes nostalgia and suggests homeliness but also hints at the vulnerability of the viewer. It is a powerful image of a cat: a deep orange cat on a bright green mat is exciting, vibrant and beautiful and moves things on from the hats on mats I did last year. This is about cats. The time of hats on mats is over. Anyone with a hat on a mat picture has yesterday’s art. It’s passe”.

  9. It’s interesting how Mercedes have adopted the BMW trademark of having virtually no front overhang.

    1. But only as long as they don’t put the concept on an actual FWD platform…

  10. When one looks at photos of the blessed one, it’s possible to see the blank terror behind the eyes, the awful knowledge that his edifice is built on nothing. After all, it’s a binary proposition. Add creases. Talk up the adoption of creases. Now what? Remove creases. Disparage the use of creases. Talk up the lack of creases. Repeat. Continue in this manner until fatigue or insanity sets in. Poor Gorden (sic)…

    1. Heretic! Surely you know that the odious crease was the sole work of the false-prophet Bangle and has been disseminated by his nefarious disciples such as van Hooydonk. Blessed Gorden has maintained total purity in all his works at all times. If you see creases, they are in your eyes, not in his works. All his creations are of Form and Body. Even a blemish is anathema to Blessed Gorden. How foolish of you to imagine that he would ever, in all his infinite existence, have countenanced even a single crease. The haters are among us brethren. Yet we know where they live.

  11. Here it is in a more production ready form with real mirrors, door handles and sensible wheels:

    That awful chinless mouth out front (reminiscent of a Maserati Ghibli) ruins it in my book. The rest is very neat and tidy however.

    And no creases? What are all those things on the bonnet then?! LOL

    1. To be fair, it looks like a Mercedes even if you hid the lamps and grille. Also, it is hard to see what you could do to make it better without recycling the classic Mercedes shapes. I would have had a more evenly balanced division of the grille and lower air-intake. The bumper is effectively gone leaving a grille hanging there with a metal-effect flourish going from side to side without doing anything useful. It is pure decoration.
      So, I do know what to do: a more functionally driven bumper. Still, it´s not bad. I am working hard to quibble.

    2. I like that very much, even including the grille. Those lower vents are overdone; hopefully there will be a more conservative treatment for non-sporting models.

    3. Let’s not lose the run of ourselves entirely chaps, just because the blessed Gorden (sic) has deigned to loosen the thumbscrews a notch or two. Even if the production car retains a decent proportion of Vision A’s style, the addition of production-spec bumpers, lights and smaller diameter wheels will lend a somewhat different visage to the world. It may not be the butterfly to caterpillar transformation of CLA magnitude, but I’d gently suggest you await the production car before the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in entirely.

    4. Sensual purity is good for you. Sensual purity works. Sensual purity is not to be challenged. Believe in sensual purity. Allow sensual purity to turn yourself into a better human being. Transcend existence. Attain sensual purity.

    5. As Kris points out, the tagline is absurd and its presentation is absurd. If we can get past that the car isn´t so bad. It´s a shame the Wagener message is getting in the way.

    6. When presented with a new design, I prefer that I am allowed a few moments of quiet examination. It is not that I do not want to hear the designer’s thoughts; I simply want to record my own reactions before they fade away.

      I tend to find that a desire to “talk up” a design before it is presented generally suggests a perceived lack of confidence. This deficit might lay with the designer; it might lay with the design they are presenting; or it may be in the recipient of the presentation. With Gorden Wagoner I think it is the latter.

      Who is the audience that Gorden is addressing? It is not journalists or customers. No: neither of these matter as much as his real audience, Mercedes’ top brass. Gorden’s florid prose did not rise in isolation, but has been honed over years of internal pitches to senior people that he perceives are critically unequipped to parse design.

      Constantly forced to “pitch” in this manner, Gorden has primed a verbiage pump that he seemingly cannot now switch off. Outside of the context of galvanising a stodgy M-B board room, such pitch-speak only serves to muddy our perceptions of what is, in essence, a good design.

    7. As I asked, who is the design pitch for? It’s very self-referential and excessively florid. Designers don’t really talk like this and customers don’t care about words about shapes.

  12. I’ve enjoyed this discussion very much – prompted by a fine article of course. Well done all

  13. Automotive News Europe, (the font of all knowledge), reported this yesterday: “To distinguish Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation CLA from the redesigned A-class sedan due next year, the CLA will get fastback styling said to resemble the four-door Mercedes-AMG GT concept.”
    A mini-me Insignia Grand Sport then, it would seem. You can read the full report on their fine website, should you be so inclined…

    1. He’s from Essen. People there walk the walk and talk the talk.

    2. “Hot and Cool” – “Strong and Stable”.

      Is there any meaningful difference?

      Who cares? Just keep repeating the words as if your career depends on it. It probably does…

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