MAN IN BLACK
Overdrive|April 2021
FROM AUDI TO KIA, THIS IS HOW THE INIMITABLE PETER SCHREYER SHOOK UP CAR DESIGN
SIMRAN RASTOGI
There’s no pretentiousness here. You sort of expect a designer, of automobiles or otherwise, to make a statement with their personal style. But in Peter Schreyer’s case, Hyundai Motor Group’s president of Design Management, the all-black look is purely functional, born from needing to live out of a suitcase. Plus, it can be argued that it forces attention back to the art, rather than the artist, no? Though, when the art includes the likes of the original Audi TT, the reinterpretation of the iconic VW Beetle, and countless Kia and Hyundai models that have smashed previous perceptions of the Korean brands, you realise personal style is superfluous. And now, along with Karim Habib, head of Kia design, Schreyer is redefining Kia once again, as the brand reinvents itself for the coming mobility revolution.

So how (and why) did Peter Schreyer, at the envious position of heading Volkswagen exterior design, leave it all behind and head to Korea to try and shape a brand of massmarket cars?

The early years

Born in 1953, in a small town just outside of Salzburg, Schreyer’s love for planes and cars was naturally cultivated on the old farm he grew up on, adjacent to a small air field, and on the path to a revered Hillclimb course, where Auto Union test drivers would regularly head to. While he lent a hand in the baking of cakes at the family’s restaurant, fortunately for us, his father’s enthusiasm for cars was infectious. Schreyer recounts his father teaching him how to drive on the Alpen roads, timing shifts, and nailing corners. This led to a course in industrial design in ’75, from where he was offered an internship at Audi, learning under the likes of future Ford Mondeo designer, Martin Smith. No surprises then, when Schreyer was offered a position at Audi after his course, with a sponsorship to study transportation design at the revered Royal College of Arts, London.

The Audi years

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