Peter Pfeiffer retires

Automotive Design 27 Mar 2008
Peter Pfeiffer retires

Mercedes-Benz has announced that Design Director Professor Peter Pfeiffer will retire in 2008 at the age of 65 after 40 years of service. Pfeiffer is considered the spiritual father of the new Mercedes design idiom.

From the official Press Release:

Peter Pfeiffer (left) and Karl-Heinz Bauer (right) discussing the first Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate design sketches at the powerwall Peter Pfeiffer (left) and Karl-Heinz Bauer (right) discussing the first
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate design sketches at the powerwall.

He headed the globally active design division of Mercedes-Benz since April 1999. In this capacity, he was responsible for designing the passenger cars and commercial vehicles of the Stuttgart automotive brand.

Pfeiffer will be succeeded by Gorden Wagener (39), who currently heads the Strategic Advanced Design department and as such acts as the director of the Mercedes design studios in California and Japan.

“Under Professor Peter Pfeiffer, design became a Mercedes-Benz trademark more than ever before and contributed to the brand’s success”, said Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler Board of Management, in recognition of the work of the Mercedes chief designer.

“In translating the current Mercedes design concept into forms, Peter Pfeiffer gave our automobiles their future-oriented appearance, and in this way defined the new image of the Mercedes-Benz brand.”

Peter Pfeiffer and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate Peter Pfeiffer and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate

Professor Peter Pfeiffer is responsible for the design of the Mercedes models currently on the market, the luxury limousine Maybach and the smart fortwo city coupe. In 2005, he and his team realised a new design style that first went into series production with the S-Class.

The style is based on the rules of modern purism, which allow for the interplay of large, even surfaces with sharp lines thus accentuating the clarity of the vehicle form.

“Good design is not only about creating beautiful and fascinating individual products. It is also about more exactly defining the automobiles’ nature”, says Peter Pfeiffer.

“In using this new design style, we underline the typical features of today’s Mercedes models – for example, confidence, definitely a trait distinguishing our technically sophisticated vehicles”.

Besides the S-Class, the CL- Coupé, the new C-Class, the new generation of the SL sports car as well as the entire SUV family all speak the same Mercedes design language.

Another demand has always defined the work of the Mercedes Head of Design: combining tradition and innovation to achieve a harmonious whole.

Peter Pfeiffer and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate Peter Pfeiffer checks the 1:1 model of the new C-Class.

Without concealing the origins of the vehicles manufactured by the traditional auto manufacturer, Peter Pfeiffer successfully combined familiar stylistic elements of the brand with new ideas, in this way continuously developing the design further.

This attention to detail kept the design language and the brand’s image alive, innovative and dynamic while also making it unique.

“A Mercedes-Benz car will always be recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz. Its design combines continuity and creativity, tradition and modern features.

"These are the foundations on which the Mercedes models’ style will continue to be valued for its elegance over long periods, and the reason why many of our cars have become such coveted classics”, is how Peter Pfeiffer describes the strategy developed for the long term that does not allow for any short-lived fads or trends.

As Pfeiffer puts it, “What has always been decisive for the design of Mercedes cars, and this will certainly not change, is that we don’t want to follow fashion, we want to be modern”.

About Peter Pfeiffer

Peter Pfeiffer (left) and Karl-Heinz Bauer (right)

Peter Pfeiffer was born in 1943 in Dallwitz near Karlsbad (today, Karlovy Vary).

After completing his professional training at the Staatliche Höhere Fachschule für Porzellan (Technical College for the Porcelain Industry) in Selb from 1960 until 1963, he began his career as a designer with Ford-Werke AG in 1963.

Five years later, he entered the Daimler-Benz group in 1968, becoming head of the department “Design PKW und NFZ” (Passenger Car and Commercial Vehicle Design) in 1978.

In 1999, Peter Pfeiffer succeeded Bruno Sacco at the helm of the design division of Mercedes-Benz and was appointed Senior Vice President Design in 2000.


In the summer of 2003, Peter Pfeiffer received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his exceptional contribution to the field of automotive design. In the fall of 2004, he was awarded an honorary professorship by the Universityof Artsand Design in Budapestin recognition of his commitment to promoting young designers.

In late 2007, the German Design Council elected Peter Pfeiffer as its new president. In his acceptance speech before the committee made up of other high-ranking designers, Pfeiffer underscored that he intends to continue strengthening the relevance of design as regards its innovative power and its role in the economy. As the new president of the German competence centre for design, Pfeiffer noted that design is an important factor in sharpening any product’s or brand’s profile in international competition.

(Source: Mercedes-Benz)

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