Porsche’s Chief Designer Explains Future Design Plans

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Porsche’s chief designer Michael Mauer explains how he considers the style language of the future. He also explains how focusing on the future opens up possibilities for the present. The first question he comes with is, what will a designer come up with tomorrow? Well, first he’ll think about tomorrow, is what he says. According to Michael, it’s a designer’s job to look beyond the here and now towards the future, more or less constantly. Study how designers think, and you will find that they are not really living in the present, but are already a step ahead. It is comparable to what lawyers call the “fictitious second”, or what he calls the “aesthetic second” of the designer.

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Continuing on the mindset of a designer, working on any Porsche 911, Michael said that this special aesthetic second, as a pacesetter of the present, is of course not enough to draw a future Porsche 911 that will hit the road four or five years later. So the question arises, as to how do designers recognize what will constitute the contemporary lines of tomorrow? Speaking on the same, American psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz said, “The future is not someplace we’re going to, but an idea in our mind now. It is something we’re creating, that in turn creates us.” Ultimately, in order to be able to show tomorrow, a designer needs to travel to the day after tomorrow.

And once we reach the day after tomorrow, Michael says, it becomes a versatile space full of possibilities: a space that can show designers radical visions of a future present. Images are created, changed priorities become visible, and ideals can be re-evaluated. What we think of today as having no alternative may be gone by the day after tomorrow. And, what’s more, these visits to the day after tomorrow also change those who undertake the journey. As Grosz points out, traveling through time changes the traveler, too. And it’s this change that is the goal. It gives us new perspectives on how we use things such as cars, cell phones, or money. Enriched with this knowledge, the designer can travel further and back at the same time: into tomorrow.

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Porsche is for the first time publishing design studies from 2005 to 2019 which have until now been kept under lock and key. In order to do their job and move from the visionary to the concrete – in other words, to define the very concrete shape that will fit perfectly into the brand image and the revolutionary spirit of the times in four to six years’ time – Porsche designers need to become lateral and longitudinal thinkers. This means first ensuring the logical continuation of what already exists and shaping what is beautiful into what is perfect. But just when they have created the highest degree of visual perfection from today’s point of view, designers break this by adding a precisely composed dissonance. Micheal calls this phenomenon as “Claudia Schiffer paradox”.

As someone born in the summer, he has long been fascinated by open-top cars. With the Porsche 918 Spyder, he gave the brand a modern visual direction. His favorite sports activities take him to the mountains, on skis or a mountain bike,  but his thoughts always remain in the future.

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