PSFK toured the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show which for anyone who hasn’t attended over the years can best be summed up as gigantic. Filling 11 exhibition halls, the show transforms the Frankfurt Messe into a temporary automotive city. Local German brands tend to pull out all the budget stops in creating huge display stands. This year there seemed to be a thematic zeitgeist around representing the city. Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and MINI each staged their cars against backdrops of dense skylines. The claustrophobic settings are a break from the open roads with sweeping curves automakers have relied on over the years as an idyllic way to portray a vehicle’s driving spirit. The transition to showing cars relative to an urban setting is likely an acknowledgment of where sales growth is going to be the strongest for these brands.
Here’s a look at how four brands represented the city:
Not content with using one of the existing exhibit hall buildings, Audi constructed their own freestanding building clad in stark white and mirrored panels wrapping the base. From the outside, it gave nothing away to what the designers did with the interior.
Once through the entrance. visitors were confronted with a panoramic view of a city skyline turned upside down. Buildings extended upward and mirrored panels gave the impression of a bustling city street filled with pedestrians. You could view the cars at eye-level and also get a ‘birdseye’ view just by looking up. The design was dramatic if at times disorienting.
Occupying a large table was a scale model of a city which visitors could explore with handheld digital tablets. The display offered augmented reality information on VW’s clean diesel Think Blue models.
Challenging Audi for dizziness-inducing stands was MINI’s cabrio display which relied on collaged city photographs. Cutting together mural photos with varying perspectives created a pretty dynamic 3D result using only 2-dimensional surfaces.
The Frankfurt show is located a short distance from the Bavarian automakers’ headquarters and their show stand this year was had to believe even in person. Meandering around the hall was an elevated indoor road constructed just for the show. The track was used for ride-along trips and driving demonstrations during a presentation that ran twice an hour. Behind the main stage area was a giant video wall that featured hyperreal city images that at time interacted with the cars as they passed.