x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bugatti designer has eyes for reflection and genuflection

The man charged with overseeing Bugatti's design is German-born Achim Anscheidt.

The man charged with overseeing Bugatti's design is German-born Achim Anscheidt. The son of motorcycle champion Hans-Georg Anscheidt, and a former motocross champion himself, Anscheidt, 44, studied auto design in the US before taking up positions with Porsche and Volkswagen. Having joined Bugatti in 2004 as head of design, he arrived just as the much-feted Veyron, (designed under the eye of Anscheidt's predecessor and mentor Helmut Warkus) was being readied for release. But taking on the mantle of design at Bugatti is to assume the responsibilities of a century's technological achievement while maintaining fidelity to the company's core alliance of velocity and artistry.

"Mm, yes," Anscheidt acknowledges. "It's a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure. Having to be aware that you are doing an automotive work of art, that will find so much echo in the automotive world. Something of uniqueness, with strong brand DNA - there is a very strong graphic DNA with Bugatti. You need a timeless approach to design that won't be outdated five years down the road - there won't be another Veyron in five years. A very unique statement in the automotive world; that's what I identify with the Bugatti."

Anscheidt's latest project is a prototype of a sedan, the Galibier, which Kevin Hackett reviews opposite. "How do you visually create value?," muses Anscheidt. "How do you style and design in a way that you can transfer value to the human eye?" To answer this, he recalls the period following his graduation from the famed design school, the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Having been sponsored through his course by Porsche, he spent three years working with the design team who had penned models such as the 911, 928, 944, 959, the Boxster and Cayenne, as well as Porsche's race cars.

"From those great masters at Porsche, I learnt the handling of reflection. Reflection describes the quality of an automotive product. If the surface doesn't work quite well, then the reflection is off as well. Only a few people know that you can actually tune a reflection. You can tune light running over a car, how that reflection comes - how it flows down, over a bend, shoots out again. It's an art in itself.

"For example, say you want to give the car more 'wedge'. You can either do this by introducing an actual physical line, or you can do in a more subtle way by running the reflection in that direction. Then, you can get away without a line, which is a cleaner approach." "One of the most beautiful things in the automotive world is the Porsche 911 fender; it always has been. I think the two rear fenders of the Porsche 911 - or on the Bugatti Veyron - they are the most beautiful rear fenders that you find in this industry.

"You look at how those reflections run along that, they are hand-modelled. They are made by some of finest craftsmen, working the clay in this case and filling in the material to work with you. As a designer, on the speed of those reflections, it takes weeks and weeks, if not months, to get right. So our trade is the tuning of light." The former motorcycle hero does not intend to rest on his laurels. Future projects are not up for discussion, neither are details on what his current work involves. Instead, Anscheidt exudes a general air of quiet energy and enthusiasm for the years ahead.

"I see myself more at the start of more intense work at Bugatti, there is a lot to be done," he smiles, neatly parrying a direct enquiry about his next project. "We are a small organisation and I feel like instead of thinking what's next, I feel I haven't even really got started yet." motoring@thenational.ae