Following the shocking news of the passing of Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director and founder of fashion brand, Off-White, Mercedes-Benz has chosen to publicly unveil his collaborative design at the Miami Rubell Museum between the 1st and 2nd of December 2021.
Project Maybach was Abloh’s last collaboration with the auto brand, and together with its chief design officer, Gorden Wagener, it was designed to push “the boundaries of function, style, and collaborative creativity.”
One of the things Virgil was famous for was his (sometimes controversial) three per cent rule: however, for Project MAYBACH, the true extent of his versatility as a designer comes to the fore – every aspect of the re-imagined Maybach was built from the scratch. Together with Wagener, Abloh interpreted the model’s luxury identity with a new design language that is nothing like Mercedes-Benz has ever done.
Inspired by the great outdoors and recontextualizing a traditionally urban brand within a distinctly off-road environment, Virgil and Gorden, free from production requirements, conceptualised what the future of electric travel might look like. Project MAYBACH is a 2-seater electric vehicle that incorporates solar cells to increase its imagined range.
The concept auto itself is breathtakingly huge: it is nearly 6 meters (20 feet) in length. It also harmoniously combines authentic Mercedes-Maybach design elements with a new outdoor adventure design motif that includes large off-road wheels, a see-through hood, and distinctive attachments. Its two-tone exterior blends effortlessly with its similarly two-tone, earthy interior which looks utilitarian and chic at the same time.
Speaking to Financial Times of the idea behind the design, Abloh explained, “Instead of focusing on the city side of cars – as that is what we know – we asked what this historic vehicle could look like if it takes us to the 50 per cent who live in the countryside? Ideas of space, air, natural light and using a car to explore – that became our north star.” Wagener added, “It looks like a capable off-road vehicle, but different to what you have seen. You can buy an SUV from every brand, so this had to be surprising, shocking even, with its exaggerated design, proportions and message.”
Project MAYBACH is meant to serve as an inspiration for a limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach S-Class planned to be released in 2022. Virgil Abloh may be gone, but his designs, creations and ideas will live on for a very long time.