Mercedes Benz Brooches

Year of production: 2001

Dimensions: Various

Materials: Pieces of Mercedes-Benz E-classe 210 /2001


About: Is there any greater icon in the industrial world than the Mercedes-Benz? I don’t think so. CEO’s, real estate agents, small-time hustlers in the building trade, politicians, Mongolian drug dealers and Birmingham greengrocers: all around the globe they share the love for a Merc. More than any other ornament it symbolizes success and social status.

These qualities attracted me to the Mercedes as an area for serious research. The main idea behind the project was to involve the Daimler-Benz Company in a special presentation of its latest, most advanced Mercedes model. During one of the annual car shows we would stage a robot performance. With a high tech laser cutter we would slice brooches from the bodywork of the car. People in the audience could point out their favourite piece and within seven minutes the robot would deliver them the real thing: a piece of Mercedes to be pinned to their jackets or sweaters. By the end of the show Daimler-Benz would be left with a unique work of art for their private collection and every visitor would be able to call him or herself the owner of a piece of Mercedes.

I am still convinced that the concept of the project is valid. The image is sound, the robot performance exciting and relevant as to the connection between branding and audience. But I couldn’t tear down the German fortress. I had brought some samples with me on a visit to the company. They looked at the brooches, saw that the material was far too thin to sustain the image of an indestructible car like Mercedes and lost interest immediately. But the funny thing was that I had used genuine Mercedes metal for all the samples. I had revealed a weakness they never wanted to advertise!

I ended up producing them by hand, cutting the brooches out of the hood and some other parts of a new Mercedes car. The real thing, but no robots this time. The closest I got to acting it out for real was at an exhibition in an art gallery. One of the visitors agreed that I could work on his Mercedes. Everybody loved the concept but the reality of it scared most of the visitors off. The visitor in question had parked his car in front of the gallery but by the time I was outside with my tools and safety goggles at the ready that was the only car in the street.

I cut out a brooch from the side of the door that the owner then wore at the exhibition. It is a step in the right direction. One day even the Germans will understand that this is a very good idea.

Photo credits: Atelier Ted Noten

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