Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on March 19, 2009
It’s too bad Volkswagen retired the term “Fahrvergnügen”. Back in the 1989, when this strange word blared loudly from the auto manufacturer’s TV and print ads, a German acquaintance told me it loosely translated to “fun driving”. (He also told me I was mispronouncing my German surname, but my Americanized ancestors are to blame for that.)
Of all the great VWs out there, the one that looks the most fun to drive is the new Viseo. Design-wise, this sports car runs the Roadster right off the road. Or rather, it would – if it existed beyond the concept stage.
On the heels of an internship at Volkswagen, German design student Marc Kirsch created this coupe for his diploma project at Braunschweig University of Arts. “Expect something unexpected,” is Kirsch’s answer when I ask him to describe his creation.
Unexpected, yes. In fact, the forward-thinking electric three-seater, inspired by the works of internationally renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, is an aesthetic marvel. “The target,” Kirsch says, “was to create a visionary concept car, shaped and based on the Calatravian motto of ‘dynamic balance’. I was very much inspired by his main conceptional and visual influence.”
Among the features that make it unique is its lack of an exhaust system. This allowed for more design flexibility in the back, and what Kirsch delivered was genius — a detachable trunk that, once outside the car, becomes a wheelable suitcase. Where did this idea come from? “When you look at the car, there’s an overall balance in terms of its form and structure – it’s both common and unusual. And because the back end is so slim, I wanted to do something special with it. Basically, the trunk is a nice idea or a funny gimmick — whatever you want to call it. But I didn’t set out just to do something weird or stylish. I wanted to put in something useful.
“And because a normal door is wider than the detachable trunk, you can easily bring luggage or your daily shopping inside your flat or house. This idea is closely connected to Calatrava’s way of thinking – doing things differently.”
“Different” aptly describes my favorite of the car’s features – the funky plastic OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen, on which information can be displayed (GPS) or communications shared. It almost looks comic book-inspired. Is the Viseo the Batmobile in disguise?
Not at all, says Kirsch. “My task was to create something new. But I did want the design to be futuristic enough that one could imagine it in a Sci-Fi movie.”
He’s quick to point out that his design vision extends beyond automobiles. While his specialties are industrial design, illustration and 3-D modeling, there’s a thread of practicality running through his work. “In my opinion, design has a lot to do with making life better or easier. This is my goal for future projects. But basically, I’m a product designer who’s interested in very different things.”
Seeing as how my personal Viseo fantasy involves flying down the highway with the windows rolled up and the music blaring, I couldn’t resist asking Marc what he listens to. “My music range is really wide,” he said. “I like everything: electro, jazz, classic, hip-hop, etc.” (I’m omitting his comments about Britney and Rihanna.) “Currently on my iPod, there’s Feist, Morcheeba, Air, Funkmaster Flex mixes, Console and Mozart.” Again, something different.
My last question had nothing to do with Marc or his design: does “Fahrvergnügen” really mean “fun driving”? “Yes, exactly,” he said. “Or ‘driving pleasure’.”
Which is exactly what I’ll experience if I ever get my hands on a Viseo.