Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design, Audi, talks about Audi’s designs, their concepts, and what he collects. Sielaff is now the designer for Bentley.
In 2016, Bentley’s design studio was brought under the stewardship of the esteemed car designer, Stefan Sielaff. It represents the creation of an entirely new role, in which Stefan runs Bentley’s styling studio while retaining overall responsibility for interior design across VW Group.
With an illustrious career spanning over 25 years, German-born Stefan has long been a devotee of luxury British design. He originally gained his Vehicle Design degree from the Royal College of Art in London and, since then, he has sought to achieve a sense of luxury in everything he does. It’s an approach that involves seeing cars as much more than just vehicles.
“I find it extremely satisfying to work for a luxury brand and to transform the expectation of the customer into what I consider a sculpture with an interior living habitat,” explains Stefan.
It’s a holistic view of car design that he developed during a five-year stint as Design Director at Audi, but his automotive experience is just part of a bigger picture. To design at this level requires a much more comprehensive vision – one based on a remarkable breadth of influences.
“Yesterday, I was at the Vogue exhibition in London. Fashion changes much faster than car design and it’s a huge inspiration for me. I also love to look at fine art architecture – even aircraft design.”
All these influences need to be harnessed with genuine respect for the Bentley brand, not least the design hallmarks that have identified its cars for almost 100 years. While Stefan’s job has always required him to think several years ahead, it’s something he now does with one eye on Bentley’s pioneering heritage.
“The Mulliner R-Type from 1952 was a fantastically innovative statement for its time. The beautiful proportions and the unique treatment of the surfaces… these are characteristics you still see in Bentleys today – and it’s something we will continue, long into the future.”
This vision for Bentley’s future designs is rooted in a clear idea of what makes the brand unique.
“For me, it’s the beauty of a fantastic exterior concealing innovations and craftsmanship that push the product itself forward. It’s this combination of technology and aesthetics that, in the end, makes Bentley extraordinary.”
Reflecting on his own journey, Stefan concludes: “…throughout my career, my dream has been to work for a legendary British car brand. Finally, it has come true.”