Last month we reported on design cross-pollination by BMW's DesignWorks USA, which has branched out, like Porsche Design, to apply their design expertise outside of the automotive realm. Now yet another German car manufacturer will be joining this game: Mercedes has announced that "the portfolio of the newly established 'Mercedes-Benz Style' division will comprise not only transport-related products, but also furniture and lifestyle products and industrial design" through special licensing agreements.
"Our unique design expertise is appreciated throughout the world. We have therefore decided to establish the Mercedes-Benz specific styling outside the automotive field too - and so far we have met with a very positive response from a great number of manufacturers in a variety of sectors", explains Professor h.c. Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz....
"Mercedes-Benz Style" undertakes both commissioned work, for which the rights to the styling service are sold to the product manufacturer, and also the allocation of design licences - in which case a product manufacturer will be granted the right to use the styling, but all rights to the styling remain with Mercedes-Benz....
"Whether we are dealing with commissioned work or will grant licenses, basically the same principle applies: the product and the manufacturer must both match our premium standards and represent innovation, as well as trend-setting, enduring style", explains Gorden Wagener.
We suppose it's a sign of the (economic) times that even Mercedes is now trying to turn their design resources into a new revenue stream. We also find it interesting that it is primarily German and Italian car firms branching out, while the Japanese auto manufacturers, which have similarly strong cultures of design, have not.
Another thing we wonder about: Will these big dogs of the design world begin cannibalizing the business of non-automotive design firms, drinking their milkshakes, so to speak?
For now, mid-level design firms will have little to fear from Mercedes; for now that firm will focus on the luxury vehicle market, tackling helicopters and yachts.