Farewell with oil slick
21 – stands not only for the 21 autos in the “#21 Collector´s Edition”. It also stands for the 21 years in which compact carmaker smart has shaken up the market for mobility. There’s no forgetting the emergence of the first, completely different smarts that simply fitted into gaps between parked cars. The skeptics who asked whether such small autos were needed at all were soon proved wrong – not in a preachy way, but with a cheeky smile. The marque has repeatedly demonstrated that it wants to market its products differently, more excitingly than its established rivals.
Almost two decades ago, autos were stacked in glass towers and for sale as fashion lines. And in 2018 the “smart Disco” was launched, a design by Konstantin Grcic as part of the “Night Fever” exhibition he devised for Vitra Design Museum – one of the most ingenious collaborations between a carmaker and a designer to date. It is how Grcic and smart have responded to the show cars that the marques so like to position outside the entrance to the events they sponsor – an inconceivably unimaginative means of demonstrating presence, addressing a target group and attracting attention. How different the “smart Disco” was – a completely stripped out automobile that contained not just a fog machine, a laser show and loudspeakers, but also a lifting platform in order to raise the DJ decks a few meters into the sky. The “smart Disco” has since proven to be incredibly popular, bringing a touch of clubbing into the program accompanying Milan’s Salone del Mobile and Art Basel – it last guested even in New York.
Now smart and Konstantin Grcic have got the “#21 Collector's Edition” moving – a special edition that covers the last 21 smart vehicles powered by combustion engines. Unlike the “smart Disco”, these autos need, of course, to be ready for the road and approved for use there, which restricted the design scope more than was the case with the predecessor. Nevertheless, Grcic who is a self-confessed car enthusiast, devoted the same energy to the project, as did Daniel Lescow, who is head of marque and product management at smart.
Yellow car paint on the front, black gloss paint in the middle, and matt black with sparkles at the rear define the vehicle’s outside appearance – colors that recur in the interior. Grcic uses the black to reference oil, that fuel which smart bids farewell to with this collection. A farewell that Grcic and Lescom also consider a departure for new things. Even if smart fielded its first electric car as long ago as 2007, the complete switch to the new drives is a massive step, as Daniel Lescow also emphasizes: “What we’re doing here has never been attempted by an auto manufacturer before.” Not that smart has ever had a problem in doing things differently.