Earlier this week in Sindelfingen, Hartmut Sinkwitz, director of interior design at Daimler, showed journalists the design of the new interior treatment for the Mercedes GLE, elements of which can also be seen on the new A-Class. “It is our goal to create timeless beauty… older Mercedes designs from the 1930s give us a strong example of timeless design,” he said.
“Interior pieces were designed like pieces of jewellery, but they had to work with a flat board IP. Now we can shape our forms, achieve more free forms.” The new interior for the GLE has embraced this freedom.
The cowl over the IP has been dispensed with, and a double flowing form wraps from the dash out to the doors. The new interior also has floating lines, highlighted with lighting, a free-standing cockpit display as well as a sportier driving position. The setting for the widescreen is also different: “It is free floating with no hood, put in a cut-out of the upper volume, with air vents on either side, it looks like it is on a stage!” Sinkwitz explained.
The two volumes of the IP are differentiated and highlighted through ambient lighting treatments. The lower volume deep set, with open-pore, tactile wooden trim which flows into the doors. This highlights width of the vehicle and a feeling of space more often experienced in saloons.
“In the past we put the emphasis on verticality to express power,” Sinkwitz explained, “this time, the interior puts the emphasis on horizontality, the low-mounted deco area with open-pore wood, [which] flows into the doors. There is a more geometric feeling, more anti-SUV.” This ‘anti-SUV’ approach can also be seen in the trapezoidal central air vents, with the signature four-fold design, which sit within the cassette and either side below the flatscreen.
Craftsmanship is clearly one of Daimler’s keywords at the moment, and they are blending high-tech, bleeding-edge technology (such as the MBUX system) with more familiar, analogue shapes and materials. This is communicated clearly in the GLS with the stitched leather on the seats and the leather on the dash. “They are stitched together, like a bespoke suit,” said Sinkwitz.
The GLS centre console has elegant, arching grab handles – a nice nod to the ‘utility’ part of SUV. Wrapped in stitched leather which matches the leather on the upper part of the IP, they complement the flowing forms seen on the dash. The 12-inch widescreen creates a strong contrast to the ‘analogue’ leather elements.
The new twin-screen infotainment display and driver display setup seen on the new A-Class which was launched (and we reviewed) at CES earlier this year, also blends bleeding-edge technology with more analogue elements. The MBUX digital display is very rich, very high resolution and has a lot of 3D elements, but the manner in which the information is communicated often resembles old analogue dials. Unlike analogue dials, for example, the speedometer has a laser beam style pointer, and the numbers increase in size when the needle ‘touches’ them.
This is a good example of how Daimler design sees the future of transport – taking the best of analogue design and using it as the basis for intuitively designed and modern digital elements.
Mercedes Brand Experience Room
To express the brand aesthetic, Daimler’s designers created rooms for EQ, AMG, Mercedes and Maybach. In the Mercedes room, the flowing lines, floating staircase and balcony, strips of light to highlight the curves, and the wooden floor, create an atmosphere that certainly gives insight into what the new GLE will be like to sit in. The aluminium pieces convey strength and stability. Black, silver and a range of warm tones feature, while natural, organic wood and leather impart approachability and warmth.