“Enduring, not ultimate form”: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Still until 23 August 2015, the Red Dot Design Museum and the Ruhr Museum in Essen, Germany, are presenting the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” under the patronage of the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert. It tells “60 years of design history in Essen - from ‘Industrieform’ to Red Dot” in Hall 5 at Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site. The exhibition presents current and historical exhibits, reconstructs elements of past presentations, and documents eyewitness accounts alongside posters and photographs from 60 years of design history.

The title of the exhibition “Enduring, not ultimate form” is a quote by journalist Clara Menck which stems from the time of the first Industrieform exhibition. It describes design as a permanent task to optimise the environment created by us and thus to secure our existence going forward. This becomes especially apparent when looking at one exhibit of the Red Dot anniversary exhibiton: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194 series).

The roots of the design classic are in racing. When the original 300 SL was presented in 1952, nobody could have guessed the impact that this car would have on the Mercedes-Benz brand and on the emerging “economic miracle” in Germany. The race car, built by hand under the supervision of Rudolf Uhlenhaut, weighed 1,060 kg. Its elegantly flowing shape was an expression of speed. Thanks to its aerodynamics and its lightweight construction from aluminium and magnesium, the car celebrated a series of successes before the year was out: A double victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a triple victory at the Berne Prize race and a quadruple victory at the “Great Jubilee Prize” at Nürburgring.

The first 300 SL, the début vehicle from 1952, no longer exists. But the car with chassis number 2 is still around. It was lovingly restored for its 60th anniversary. The characteristic shape of the original model with its gull wing doors inspired the 300 SL road car. Since then, its characteristic features have been passed on from generation to generation.

"Enduring, not ultimate form"
60 years of design history in Essen - from "Industrieform" to Red Dot
A joint exhibition of Ruhr Museum and Red Dot Design Museum Essen

Exhibition duration
Until 23 August 2015

Exhibition location
Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site
Areal A [Schacht/Shaft XII], Hall 5 [A5]
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

» Further information on the exhibition