Car Designer Exterior Interview with Oliver Samson

Today Mercedes-Benz designers are designing the cars of the future – a dream job for many. We spoke with Oliver Samson, Manager Exterior Design in the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad. One of his projects was to work on the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6. In the interview, he talks about his career and gives some tips for aspiring designers.

Dear Mr. Samson, please introduce yourself briefly to the readers.

My Name is Oliver Samson, I graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim in 2003 with a Transportation Design degree. I am currently working as Manager for Exterior Design in our Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studio in Carlsbad, California.

Why did you choose Daimler as your employer? In your opinion, what makes Daimler an attractive employer for a designer?

Mercedes-Benz was a childhood dream of mine. That was one of the main reasons I joined the company. I remember poring over my father’s Mercedes-Benz brochures and thinking how cool those cars were. So, joining the brand was more of an emotional decision than a rational one. Another reason, of course, is that Daimler is a great employer because it gives you the opportunity to work on a great variety of attractive products, unseen in the car industry. Furthermore its outstanding history is very unique, even among German car manufacturers. And the best thing is that our cars have the by far best proportions, which makes the job so fascinating and desirable for me as a car designer. And last but not least one gets to experience an international team spread out all across the globe with great people that are highly talented!

What was your previous experience at Daimler – starting from your first day in the company until today?

I started as an intern in 1999, 2001 and 2002. During that time I had the opportunity to get to know the company quite well. I remember that I already liked the way the brand was approaching design. After joining a different car brand first, I returned to Daimler in 2007.
I started as a designer in the Advanced Design Team in Sindelfingen and was given the opportunity to work on several series vehicles as well as on concept cars. It was a great time! The team was very young; we were like a small family.
After becoming team leader in 2011 I was overseeing exciting projects like the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo or the F015, just to name a few - all designed here in Sindelfingen.
Shortly after that, in 2014, I got the chance to work in Carlsbad, California.

You collaborated on the development of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6. What exactly were you responsible for?

Primarily, me and my boss Stefan Lamm were responsible to lead and organize the first sketch review of the Mercedes-Maybach 6. We knew we wanted something extravagant and that was the task we gave to the team: “Make it look ‘WOW’ and make it something that people have ‘never seen before’’’
My team came up with beautifully rendered design sketches. The best one was then chosen by our head of design Gorden Wagener and translated into a full-size clay model. From then on my job was to help the responsible designer to refine the model in every aspect and to oversee the project in terms of time and work capacities until the car was finished.

What was your biggest challenge and personal sense of achievement while working on the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6?

The biggest challenge was to come up with a new design, of course, something that was unseen. We also wanted a design that fit the Maybach brand and our Mercedes-Benz Design philosophy of “Sensual Purity”. In my opinion we have achieved a design result that is emotional on the one hand and intelligent on the other hand. I hope that the car will inspire future products. After all it was a team effort and I am proud to have been a part of that. In order to design a car as stunning as the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, you need a great team of modelers, designers and engineers.

What tips do you have for applicants who would like to work in the design department at Daimler?

My first tip would be to study Transportation Design at a good University. Royal College of Art, Art Center Pasadena or the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim just to name a few.
While studying, the transportation programs include internships that help to give students orientation as to where they want to work once they have graduated.
My suggestion for young designers that want to work for Daimler is to send in an outstanding portfolio! - Good Luck!

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