Car Design Review 7: Stefan Sielaff, Bentley Motors

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Stefan Sielaff, design director of Bentley Motors, reveals details of his early influences and his career as a young designer as well as his current role

One often hears of car designers who were sketching from an early age, some as young as three or four. I was not one of those children. I was interested in cars, but I focused my efforts during high school in the fine arts, namely painting and sculpture. I never put the two together – my artistic passion and my love for cars. It was only when I began to study product design at Hochschule Munich University in the 1980s that I began to understand that there was such a thing as a car designer.

The turning point for me came when two young designers from Opel gave a lecture about car design. The two designers in question, Chris Bangle and Gert Hildebrand, presented car design project in their lecture. This was the ‘wow!’ moment for me; I knew I had found my calling. It was at this time in my product design studies that I got heavily involved with Audi and it sponsored me to go to the Royal College of Art in London for a two-year Masters degree. Audi was my starting point, first as a student and then as a junior designer. I learned there what good car design was. I then worked for three years at Mercedes-Benz, learning a different design culture and a different way of designing cars. Then I moved back to Audi and to a more strategic role at Volkswagen and now I am at a brand that has a very strong identity, Bentley.

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