Explore how Škoda’s design language has evolved

Explore how Škoda’s design language has evolved

The Modern Solid design language shapes Škoda’s cars of the present and future. It follows on from the long tradition of close attention paid to the appearance of Laurin & Klement and then Škoda vehicles. You can now see how the design has changed in a special exhibition at the Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav.

15. 6. 2023 Škoda World

It all began in the 19th century with the elegant lines and careful finishing of bicycles or the attractive yet highly practical shape of motorcycle frames. However, it was the company’s first automobile that was the real springboard for an original design language: “Let’s devote our attention to the Laurin and Klement Voiturette! Its appearance is, in a word, lovely, its lines elegant; it is a perfect smaller edition of big cars: elongated, low and very comfortable,” was how the respected journalist Vilém “Henry” Heinz judged the Voiturette A in December 1905 in the first ever expert review.

The L&K and Škoda Design Language exhibition begins with a taste of things to come – a sculpture of a small urban SUV from Škoda’s planned model range.

Other exhibits at the Škoda Museum also demonstrate the refined aesthetic sensibility of their creators. They rarely resorted to extravagance. They managed to win the hearts of a wide range of customers on all continents with the usually restrained yet unmistakable appearance of cars of tasteful proportions, reflecting contemporary bodywork trends.

Designers (long) unknown 

A big question mark hangs over the creators of the original design language of the Laurin & Klement portfolio (1905-1925) and the first decades of the Škoda brand. They remained in the background while the Czech brand went from success to success. After all, for a long time car bodies themselves were almost an afterthought, costing less than 10% of the basic price of the self-propelled chassis! Customers could have the chassis “dressed” by one of the many independent coachbuilders. But the vast majority of motorists preferred to choose from the range offered by the Czech carmaker itself, known for its high aesthetic standards and the quality of its materials and workmanship.

The exhibition features a relatively unknown Škoda 968 prototype from 1957.

It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the profession of car designer was separated from that of bodywork constructor and engineer. But even later, many global car manufacturers used the services of external industrial designers, renowned sculptors or graphic artists. In the 1950s-1990s in particular, Italian studios were at the forefront of car design. Although the original design of the Škoda 720 ID sedan by the young Giorgetto Giugiaro never made it into series production for political reasons, the Škoda Favorit designed by Nuccio Bertone’s team was the most modern car in the Eastern Bloc at the time.

Design focusing on fun and practicality – the unique Favorit FUN and Škoda Roomster

Further evolution took place in the context of the Volkswagen Group, which Škoda Auto has been a part of since 1991. The strategic partner’s strong resource base and extensive experience enabled the creation of a separate Škoda Design department. Its inspiring headquarters is a villa standing on the banks of the river Jizera in the city of Mladá Boleslav and dating from 1890, and its office in the heart of Prague is no less inspiring.  Škoda Design employs people of 30 different nationalities. After all, Škoda was and is a global brand whose design has to respect the specific tastes and values of customers in more than 100 countries.

Invitation to the exhibition

The Škoda Museum in Mladá Boleslav is now staging the last of three exhibitions in the successful series called “The evolution of automobile production”, this time with the name “The design language of L&K and Škoda cars”. Large-format panels with accompanying texts, design sketches and a number of photographs tell the story of the production of cars as a whole and their important parts: wheels, steering wheels and headlights, for example. Other interesting subjects covered by the exhibition include the transformation of the natural and synthetic materials used and the long journey from the first car radios to today’s multimedia systems.

The exhibition explores the development of the design of the Vision 7S in great detail.

The exhibition features some unique items from the Škoda Museum’s collections: a pre-war streamlined Škoda 935 Dynamic, post-war prototypes, the materialisation of designs from Italian design studios or exhibition concepts that have been developed since the Škoda brand was incorporated into VW Group. These are represented by the Škoda Octavia Combi (1997) by Dirk van Braeckel’s team, the Škoda Yeti (2005) by Thomas Ingenlath, the Škoda Joyster (2007) dreamt up by Jens Mansky, the Škoda Vision S (2016) from the Josef Kabaň era and the Škoda Vision iV (2019) by current chief designer Oliver Stefani. Stefani is also behind the latest chapter in the long story of Škoda’s design language. A few weeks ago, the Czech carmaker unveiled six future electric models that will be fully based on the brand’s new design language, Modern Solid, whose principles were hinted at in the Vision 7S study and whose concept will be developed by production models in the coming years. But that is still to come…

The new exhibition at the Škoda Museum – Design Language of L&K and Škoda Cars – is open to the public until 22 November 2023.