Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer
Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer were awarded the “red dot: best of the best” prize for their travelling exhibition on the new Mercedes-Benz Museum, and have now been nominated for the “red dot: grand prix”


Nominated for the “red dot: grand prix” – design hoch drei

Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer are the managing directors of design hoch drei, an agency that both designs and realises top-quality two and three-dimensional, virtual and multimedia communications projects. As winners of the “red dot: best of the best” prize for their travelling exhibition on the subject of the new Mercedes-Benz Museum, they have just been nominated for the “red dot: grand prix”. We caught up with Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer to ask them about the award, themselves and their work.


“The idea behind the exhibition is simple but extremely effective,” says Wolfram Schäffer, one of the two managing directors at design hoch drei. “It relies on that aspect of human nature which is necessary for finding things out: curiosity. Nearly everyone has experienced it at some time or other: you come across a long-lost box in the attic and can’t wait to find out what’s inside. Visitors to our exhibition find themselves in a similar situation.”

Seven simple and clear-cut archive boxes contain a mixture of replica items, curious objects and interesting stories from the 120 years of the marque’s history, all of which are reminiscent of the original items and objects that can be found in the new Mercedes-Benz Museum. To round off the travelling exhibition, there is a striking information stand containing facts and an animated film about the new museum.

The design of the boxes is simple: on the outside of each box is a date and a subject. Inside the lids, texts and diagrams illustrate historical stages or specific topics, for example Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, the Silver Arrows, or famous Mercedes-Benz drivers. Inside the boxes are original exhibits related to the topic: the archive box “Security”, for example, contains a real tin of gherkins from the works canteen, alongside a written introduction and pictures. The tin was used as a crumple zone in braking tests. Another box contains a letter from Greek taxi driver Grigorios Sachinidis along with the taxi light from a Mercedes-Benz 240 D built in 1976. This taxi clocked up an unbelievable 4.6 million kilometres – the highest recorded mileage for a Mercedes-Benz known to date.

“Every box contains a surprise, both in terms of the design and the content. In the exhibit about famous Mercedes-Benz drivers, for example, visitors can hunt through records for old photos,” says Wolfram Schäffer. “Some of the boxes also use sound. When you open the Silver Arrow exhibit, you are greeted with the noise of engines and the sound of cheers. This additional sensory perception adds to the whole experience.”

A concept that also won over the expert jury judging this year’s “red dot award: communication design”. The jury awarded the “red dot: best of the best” award for outstanding design quality to design hoch drei. As a result, Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer are also nominated for the “red dot: grand prix”. This award is given for the best work in an individual category, and the winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony to be held on 8th December 2006 in the Essen Philharmonic Concert Hall. red dot caught up with both of them to ask what the award meant to them and about their plans for the future.

Susanne Wacker and Wolfram Schäffer, what does a “red dot: best of the best” award and a nomination for the “red dot: grand prix” mean to you?

Wolfram Schäffer: We were delighted to receive this prestigious award and celebrated with a bottle of champagne.

As designers, what are your plans for the future?

Susanne Wacker: We want to continue to realise projects that have top-level design requirements. We also want to work with clients who want us to help them develop.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges facing designers today?

Wolfram Schäffer: In our opinion, one of the biggest challenges is to offer the same quality during both times of decreasing budgets and times of plenty. However, this development doesn’t have to be negative. For us as designers it gives us the opportunity to rely wholly on our creativity.

Do you draw design inspiration from anyone/anything in particular?

Susanne Wacker: We have learned from all good designers. However, at the end of the day we rely on our own abilities.