After having collaborated with the late Virgil Abloh in the past, Gorden Wagener, design director of Mercedes-Benz, gives us the details of the brand’s latest collaboration with Moncler: a lunar G-class.
The Mercedes-Benz G-Class has had several lives. It was developed at the request of the Shah of Iran, a major Mercedes shareholder in the 1970s, who needed a military-style four-wheel drive SUV to help him transport a bunch of cargo. The premise was simple. It was a no-fills utility vehicle that could handle any terrain with efficiency and reliability.
Although it has been used for many special operations around the world over the years, the G-Class is now better known as a luxury car. In Miami as well as in the parking lot of Arsenal’s training ground, you’ll see more than one G 63 AMG parading around. But what does the G-Class of the future look like? When space travel becomes a reality, a Moon buggy G will certainly be the most obvious choice for navigating weightlessness. It could look like this latest collaboration with Moncler presented on February 20.
This unique creation was imagined by Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz’s design director since 2002 and who has designed everything from the AMG-One to the A-Class. But what exactly is it? It’s the Mondo G Project, a work of art designed to merge the wonderful worlds of Mercedes and Moncler. It has the body of a G-Class where the wheels and roof are inspired by the skiwear brand’s plush jackets.
“We envisioned a car that would participate in a space mission,” Wagener explains. “The whole thing looks like an Apollo spacecraft after re-entering the atmosphere. The materials in the Moncler puffer jacket made me think of spaceships and satellites, so we wanted to come up with something really futuristic with spaceship materials and combine it with our old spaceship, the G. And with that, make the contrast. The whole car is about contrast.”
One might ask, “Why such a collaboration?”. This isn’t the first time Mercedes-Benz has resorted to collab’. In recent years, it has partnered with Virgil Abloh twice, first on a G Wagon of his own and then on an off-road Maybach concept. And it seems Mercedes was inspired by him in more ways than one. Much has been made of the “multi-hyphenate” phenomenon, the designer/DJ/creative model pioneered by Abloh, and before him by the likes of Jay-Z and Diddy, who started their careers in one area and expanded into others. Pharrell Williams recently made headlines with his appointment as Abloh’s successor, and the producer/singer/designer can now add creative director at Louis Vuitton to his resume. It seems that brands want to get in on the action as well. Mercedes doesn’t just produce cars. It believes it must collaborate and assert itself in other areas to remain relevant in the ever-changing luxury landscape.
“We are a global luxury manufacturer,” says Wagener. “My role as design director is to build a luxury brand that goes beyond the automobile and connects to other areas of luxury – in this case, fashion. So I see Mercedes as a luxury brand that goes beyond the automobile. I think it’s good to incorporate these influences from other areas of design and luxury into our work.”
The wheels are inflated, evoking Jeff Koons’ cartoonish sculptures, with their hard metal bubbles that look like four inflated vests. The roof echoes this idea, even adding a huge metal zipper with a Moncler brand pull tab. The G-Class body itself takes its cue from the original ’70s design, with a weathered paint job that evokes the brassiness of an old Leica camera. Perhaps it’s a commentary on both brands’ quest for enduring luxury.
“You’re spending more, but you’re making a wise investment because you’re buying something that has better quality-it doesn’t get old so fast and you’re not throwing it away to try something new,” Wagener says. It can also be seen as a way to brighten Instagram feeds, tapping into the world of hype and novelty. “I think it’s about being spectacular. When you see what’s going on online – the whole world is virtual these days, Instagram, the Internet… And I think you have to make a strong statement to be recognized, something spectacular to stand out.”
Will these kinds of initiatives happen again? “We will continue,” Wagener replies. “But we have to find a good partner. After you do something, you have to create something else completely different. There’s no point in repeating ourselves. So the next thing has to be spectacular, in a different way. Interesting, but in a different way. And it has to speak to us. When you look at this project, you can really see that we had fun doing it. It’s important that we have fun and enjoy what we do. Otherwise, the work won’t be good.”