For fans and enthusiasts of the timeless models of German sports car manufacturer Porsche, what goes on behind closed doors on its models’ design and technology has always been intriguing, but little is known as these processes have always been kept under lock and key.
However, for the first time in its recent history, Porsche Head of Design Michael Mauer opened the secret archives of the Porsche Design Studio in Weissach, Germany, through a recent live stream with the media and Porsche fans.
Under the title Porsche Unseen, Porsche is publishing design studies from 2005 to 2019, showing spectacular visions of 15 different cars, offering an exclusive insight into its design process – from the very first drawing to the finished model ready for series production.
“People around the world love the timeless and innovative design of our sports cars,” Porsche AG Executive Board Chairman Oliver Blume.
He added that visionary concept studies are the foundation of this success: they provide the pool of ideas for the Porsche design of tomorrow, and combine their strong tradition with trailblazing future technologies.
The previously unpublished design studies are being presented exclusively by the Porsche Newsroom in a series of articles. The 9:11 Magazine web TV format also dedicated an episode to selected studies and examined the connection between the studies and the current production models with Mauer.
For Porsche fans, the book Porsche Unseen was also released by the Delius Klasing publishing house. Interested readers are given a detailed look behind the scenes of Style Porsche. A selection of studies will also be on display later for fans to admire live, while the Porsche Museum will be integrating the models in the exhibition in 2021.
THE DESIGN PROCESS: FROM THE FIRST DRAWING TO THE DRIVABLE PROTOTYPE
The design process starts with a sketch. This is visualised in the next step as a 3D model. As soon as an idea is to be developed further, small models are produced in 1:3 scale followed by hard models in the 1:1 scale.
“The virtual world is the first step, but you especially have to experience the unusual models in reality in order to understand whether a car has small, large or surprising proportions,” said Mauer.
In contrast to the development of a production model where several models are always developed with different styling formats, the vision projects, on the other hand, concentrate on a single vision model which serves as a protagonist for the central idea.
“Porsche intentionally has just a single design studio – located in the direct proximity of development,” said Mauer.
“Weissach is our epicentre. Instead of opening advanced design studios in the distant metropolises of North America and Asia, our designers come from around the world to Porsche in Weissach to create the latest production sports cars and automotive visions at the heart of the brand. Over 120 designers, experts for interior, exterior, colours and materials, model builders, modellers and study engineers work in the Porsche Design Studio.”
THE DESIGN STUDIES: ON A JOURNEY OF THE MIND INTO THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY
“When it comes to the visions we develop, it is not about bringing every car onto the road. Instead, it is more a question of establishing creative space and a relationship with the future,” said Mauer when describing the design process.
“There are two possibilities for continuing to develop as a brand: either you improve your products from the present, step-by-step, which is difficult to be really innovative, or you give free rein to your creativity. The idea is to let your thoughts jump to the day after tomorrow, and to then move back from there to tomorrow,” he said.
Based on this idea, Porsche develops the product and brand identity which characterises and secures the appearance of the models in the long term. The design language for future models develops from the long-term vision. In this process, the higher-level goal is to combine the Porsche design DNA with state-of-the-art vehicle engineering. On the one hand, this secures the innovative capability of future Porsche models and, on the other, also provides an evolutionary reference to Porsche’s rich history.
Here, Porsche gives a closer look at some examples:
PORSCHE 919 STREET
The Porsche 919 Street (2017; 1:1 clay model) was developed on the basis of the technology used in the Porsche 919 Hybrid, promising to make the exhilarating driving experience of the LMP1 race car available to amateur drivers.
Under the outer shell are the carbon monocoque and powerful 900 PS hybrid racing drivetrain that helped the Porsche 919 to achieve numerous victories at Le Mans. The dimensions and wheelbase were also the same as on the race car.
PORSCHE VISION SPYDER
With its spartan, puristic cockpit, the characteristic radiator grilles over the mid-engine, red graphic elements and the suggested fins at the rear, the compact Porsche Vision Spyder (2019; 1:1 hard model) clearly calls to mind the Porsche 550-1500 RS Spyder from 1954. At the same time, the study was intended to further develop the design identity of Porsche and provide a pool of ideas for future details – for example, the ultra-modern roll bar.
PORSCHE VISION ‘RENNDIENST’
The Porsche vision ‘Renndienst’ (2018; 1:1 hard model) is the free interpretation of a family-friendly futuristic concept for up to six persons. The design team designed a “space shuttle” with exciting proportions. The study shows how the Porsche design DNA with its characteristic surface modelling can be transferred to an unknown vehicle segment for the brand.
In the interior, passengers find a comfortable and modular travel cabin. The driver sits in a central driver’s seat. The all-electric drive technology is located in the underbody. As a result, passengers can enjoy an unexpectedly generous space and travel experience combined with Porsche-like flair.
The marriage of design and engineering is a mesmerising thought – sometimes the idea is first, sometimes the design. It begs the question: who knows what ideas people will have—or have already had—that will be the next new Porsche?