Porsche SEEN

In the recently published Porsche Unseen, the German sports car -manufacturer treated our imagination to a selection of design studies that had been kept under lock and key until now.

That seemed to us like a good opportunity to continue imagining. And so we’re treating you to a selection of our Unseen favorites, cast in stories and in real life. 

Just because. For us.

  • Interview & Photos
    Michael Köckritz
Moving Picture
PORSCHE 919 STREET
The Porsche 919 Hybrid won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row. From 2015 to 2017. Its technology forms the basis for the Porsche 919 Street, which promises to make the overwhelming driving experience of the LMP1 race car available to amateur drivers as well. The supercar concept features the full carbon monocoque and 900-horsepower hybrid racing powertrain that carried the 919 Hybrid to victory. That immediately gets the film rolling in our heads. 1:1 scale hard model.
Mr. Mauer, what are our chances of bumping into you at the hardware store? 

Michael Mauer: [laughs] I do go to the hardware store sometimes. I’m not very talented manually, but I still need a few tools, a hook or some nails every now and then. 

There’s this American author, Matthew B. Crawford, who wrote a book about the joy of working with your hands . . . 

I can relate to that. Because once I’ve managed to drill a few holes in a wall and maybe even hang up a picture using a special anchor, that fills me with immense satisfaction. Especially as that kind of work doesn’t come easily to me.

"It has always given me great satisfaction to feel that the form, the design, was evolving as I had imagined. It’s like a sculpture that grows."
Michael Mauer
Does that mean designers no longer work with their hands these days? Isn’t automotive design a hands-on profession? 

I still belong to a generation in which we worked a lot with our hands, drawing with a normal pen on normal paper. The medium may be different today, the pen electronic, but the process is still manual. The actual manual work is on the model, working on the surfaces with modeling clay. I am convinced that the quality of the surface shows whether your work was done only electronically, using mathematical data, or whether you really got your hands dirty and touched the surfaces. It has always given me great satisfaction to feel that the form, the design, was evolving as I had imagined. It’s like a sculpture that grows. Sometimes you have the impression that something isn’t quite right yet, then you work on the surfaces, look again and finally think: now everything is perfect. This feeling gets lost in the modern way of doing things. At Porsche, we try to keep this feeling alive because, as I said, I believe that in the end it expresses itself in the quality. 

Is it this feeling that gives a designer joy and satisfaction? 

Yes, the joy consists in realizing, after perhaps a long time that was also filled with doubts, that the form, the proportion finally appeals to me. That the design can generate an emotion. That it’s finally right.

Pretty. Practical.
PORSCHE VISION RENNDIENST
A Porsche meet at the hardware and garden supplies store? Nothing unusual. The top dog here, however, is the person who can launch our imagination to new frontiers with the Porsche Renndienst cargo concept, a family car offering daily practicality and street style. And in the parking lot of this big-box establishment, that happens to be the same guy who’s in charge of the Porsche design department. 1:1 scale hard model.
Do you also experience the phenomenon of flow during the design process?

When you’re working on a project, you’re always under pressure to complete it on time and within budget. You can’t just say, the way an independent artist would, “If it’s not finished tomorrow, then it’ll be finished the day after tomorrow.” On top of that, you put pressure on yourself too. You want the outcome to be appealing. For your boss, of course. For the brand. But also for yourself as a designer. And when you’re dealing with a topic twenty-four hours a day, consciously and unconsciously, when it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about before you go to sleep, then these phases can be very intense. And I’m not responsible for just one project, but for several at the same time. But even then, although you may have the feeling that things aren’t going anywhere, you keep working on it anyway, and at some point you realize that the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together. And then, if you get the problem solved and the project moves forward, you feel that flow kick in.

Hungry Hearts
PORSCHE VISION SPYDER "LITTLE REBEL"
Even hungry hearts don’t live on passion and rebellion alone. That said, the Porsche Vision Spyder offers itself as a delightful appetizer for a future little sports car rebel that makes no compromises. James Dean, who dubbed his Porsche 550 Spyder “Little Bastard”, would know exactly what we mean. 1:1 scale hard model.
You once said that design is created and works in holistic contexts. How far beyond the product do you think?

As a designer, you have to satisfy an awful lot of different demands. There’s the sales department, for example, which decides for which market and which customers a product should be developed. In that respect, you try to understand what other people want and what they need. But this very question is an important one for me as a designer anyway. What kind of people want a product like this and what do they use it for? What appeals to a customer like that? That’s one of the biggest challenges I’m facing right now, by the way. It used to be that you would finish a design, the car was made, and then it hit the road. And as a designer, you would see that car out there for a year or two and start working on the successor. These days, because of the shorter life cycles, you sometimes start working on the next model before the first one is even on the road. Admittedly, I find that difficult. Of course, I have an idea of how I want a model to evolve. But that includes being stuck in traffic with it, having it pass you on the highway, or perhaps seeing it in the parking lot outside the hardware store. The question is how it comes across in different situations and how people respond to it. I always find it exciting to see whether a little boy on the street turns around to look at a car or not.

Round Midnight
PORSCHE 904 LIVING LEGEND
A brief encounter at the gas station. At night, near Stuttgart Airport. A silver Porsche and her. Memory holds on to the moment for a while, immediately flashing images of the 1963 mid-engine Carrera GTS into the mind’s eye. The lightweight racing legend, celebrated as the 904, was just as radically compact, small and puristic as the present-day concept it inspired. A high-revving motorcycle engine could be just the thing to power the roughly 900-kilogram racer, based on the same platform as the VW XL1. We’d be happy to offer our services as co-driver. 1:1 scale hard model.
1/3
And this 360° view, how far does it go?

We spend about one year working intensely on a model. At times, we move some of the lines back and forth by mere millimeters. Because we believe it will have a positive influence on the overall design. Of course, you also ask yourself how it will be photographed and presented when it is done – perhaps how it will look standing at the dealership. Let me give you an extreme example. Say you want to appear extremely progressive, innovative and modern with your brand or your product. And then the dealer shows it inside a wooden box in a living room atmosphere. So every little detail is important, right down to the press photo and the visuals. We think about that from the beginning, which I think is extremely important.

We’re calling this issue “I for Myself”. Now, every Porsche has its own identity – and yet you can always recognize a Porsche when you see one. Do you intentionally differentiate according to product and brand criteria?

A brand stands for certain values. And the product is the ambassador of these brand values, expressed in the design. That’s why it’s important to have elements that illustrate this brand identity. A truck, for example, has to express reliability and robustness. And with a powerful brand like Porsche, I have to make sure that people immediately know what it is, that it’s a Porsche, even without the emblem. A broader product range, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to give each product its own identity, its own character.

Look Who’s Back
PORSCHE 917 LIVING LEGEND
Four influencers and one eyecatcher. The Porsche 917 Living Legend would not only make for a stunning photo with a win at Le Mans, it can also turn almost any scene into a winning picture.
Can the concepts tell us anything about the future of Porsche?

Porsche designers are often accused of having the most boring job at Porsche. One 911 after the other, nothing ever changes. Copy, paste, that kind of thing. But these concepts show that (...)

→ Read the whole interview with Michael Mauer in rampstyle #22 "I for myself".

Michael Köckritz

Michael Köckritz

Editor in Chief
As a journalist, author, artist and media maker, Michael Köckritz succeeds time and again in creating both attention-grabbing and sustainably stimulating impulses in the context of contemporary and future topics as well as lifestyle and luxury worlds. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he has realised a whole series of book and lifestyle magazine formats that have regularly won numerous national and international awards over the years. The car culture magazine ramp, the men's lifestyle magazine rampstyle and the design magazine ramp.design are published internationally and are considered style-setting.
rampstyle #22
I for myself

rampstyle #22
I for myself

What makes us tick? Ultimately, it’s always our personality. This wonderfully dazzling and unique “me” through which we see ourselves and the world. So far, so good – as seen by others. But once we start thinking about our self, things get more complicated.

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