Despite all rationality and enlightenment: The human world view is a symbolic one. For humans, everything is a sign. This is exactly what Lamborghini is all about. This is how we created a space identity filled with symbols and meaning – for Lamborghini and its iconic sports car, the Murciélago.
From brand to religion
In terms of sports cars there has always only been one religion in Italy: Ferrari. According to a legend Ferruccio Lamborghini, a tractor manufacturer back then, complained about his Ferrari sports car and was rebutted by Enzo Ferrari. The latter told him he did not know what he was talking about, because all he knew was building tractors. This incited Ferrucio to build a better, and faster, sports car. In 1963 he set up Lamborghini Automobili. The logo showed a Taurus – Ferrucio’s zodiac sign. After that he named all of his cars after famous bullfight Tauruses. When we spoke to Lamborghini about their brand identity they asked us for nothing less than: “Make Lamborghini a religion.”
The lost form
Luc Donckerwolke was Lamborghini’s head of design back then. At the turn of the Millenium, he designed the first Lamborghini of the next generation, named after a Taurus who survived a famous bullfight with 24 lance blows in Córdoba: The Murciélago, the Spanish word for ‘bat’. Thus, everything surrounding this car had to be pitch black as the night. Luc’s idea of design consists of something he refers to as ‘the lost form’: “A Lamborghini’s form looks as if it’s driving underneath the asphalt.”. His description of form reflects the idea we have about space and brands. It’s the surrounding space that describes the brand: space identity. Thus, when we were working on the Corporate Design, we gave the Murciélago’s mark its threedimensional shape, the letter “U” mimicking the wings of the bat.
A stage for the driver
We also decided to put the brand mark on the sill of the car. There’s a special meaning to the sill of a Lamborghini: it’s almost like a stage, enhancing the driver – and his passenger – getting in and out. Particularly when the passenger is a woman (Ferruccio Lamborghini was even said to have designed the upward-opening wing doors especially to frame a women getting out of the car). When we were staging an event with famous actor Catherine Deneuve, she was being photographed sitting on the sill. When she got up, everybody could see that the Murciélago lettering had left a mark on her thigh. So once again Lamborghini embodied itself as the lost form.
A myth as a space identity
Everything around the brand should feel like deeper meaning and archaic wisdom. Extreme, uncompromising, aggressive but yet luscious and italian – how do you reflect this in an exhibition space? The answer was a monolithic triptych altar built out of burnt steel, in perfect symmetry. This altar was brand messenger and universal system for trade fairs and exhibitions worldwide, for more than 15 years.
An event on top of a volcano
A religion around a black car, named after a Taurus which became immortal by its elemental force and forever being number one – there’s only one perfect place in the world to stage an event around it. And that is on the top of an active volcano: Etna, the ancient black mountain situated on the eastern shore of Sicily, more than 3.000 meters high. Manfred Fitzgerald was Head of Marketing back then and I asked him if we needed a plan B for this risky venture. He replied: “With Lamborghini, there ist no plan B.” It was bound to happen: The moment the the Murciélago was unveiled – at midnight, as it should be for a bat – to all our surprise Etna erupted, spitting fire and lava streams. Imagine the dramatic image of 300 people, all wrapped in golden survival blankets, in swirling snow flakes, descending the mountain.
Adam Award 2001: bronze