As artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founder of his own luxury streetwear label, Off-White, Virgil Abloh was renowned for helping to shape the world of fashion while championing opportunities for greater equality within a notoriously homogenous industry. But his creative talents went far beyond fashion alone, spanning art, architecture and music. Now, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled Project Maybach: a solar-powered electric car created in collaboration with the visionary designer, who passed away last month.
With Abloh’s family’s blessing, the striking vehicle was showcased to the public in early December during Art Basel Miami Beach at the Rubell Museum. “Mercedes-Benz is devastated to hear of the passing of Virgil Abloh. Our sincere thoughts are with Virgil’s family and teams,” the German car manufacturer said when announcing the event.
“Now opening the world of our collaboration, and Virgil’s unique vision, to the public we want to respectfully celebrate the work of a truly unique design talent, who created endless possibilities for collaboration through his unbridled imagination and inspired all that knew his work.”
Created in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz chief design officer, Gorden Wagener, the show car offers a unique chance to push boundaries and conceptualize what the future of luxury electric travel might look like.
Built entirely from scratch, the gigantic two-tone black and tan car is almost 20 ft long with just two seats and solar panels beneath the transparent hood. Inspiration for the design came from the great outdoors and off-road driving. The vehicle features huge wheels complete with coarse tire tread and 17-inch rims, mud-flaps and extra lights attached to the Colorado-beige brackets on the roof.
Inside, the sandy color scheme continues. Both of the seats are made from sustainable leather, tanned naturally with coffee shells to minimize the environmental impact. Comfortable as well as stylish, the seats feature headrests made from hand-dyed cotton and locally sourced wool with a jacquard houndstooth finish.
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The tranquil interior can also transform into something akin to a hotel room for overnight stays. The headrests unroll to double up as cozy blankets while the seats can fully recline in order to create beds. There’s even a lamp for nighttime reading. Continuing to blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, the seats can also be folded up and carried out of the vehicle.
It’s not the first time Abloh had worked with the German car manufacturer. In 2020, he collaborated with Wagener for Project Geländewagen to create a one-of-a-kind replica of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The model later sold for $160,000 at Sotheby’s, with the money donated to Abloh’s Post-Modern Scholarship Fund to foster the next generation of Black fashion industry leaders.
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