Walter de’Silva, head of Volkswagen Group Design, has been chosen as the Lifetime Design Achievement Award winner for the 2011 EyesOn Design Automotive Design Show. The award is unique in that only vehicle designers who have previously won it are allowed to vote. De’Silva accepted the award on Friday evening, June 17th, in Detroit at Vision Honored, the formal awards dinner.
“He is working with a German company and has taken their teutonic design and added flare and excitement to a very functional look,” said Jack Telnack, a former EyesOn Design Lifetime Achievement Award recipient who voted for de’Silva. “His Volkswagen and Audi designs are very clean and on trend and have a lot of customer appeal. I want to congratulate him and wish him continued success.”
“This award has a special meaning for me because it is voted on by such prestigious design colleagues and it is the first time I have received such recognition on U.S. soil,” de’Silva said during his acceptance speech. “I was able to realize the dream of my life since I was a child: to design cars. It gave me the chance to work with some of the most renowned personalities of our industry, express my ideas in all types of models that now drive on roads all around the world, and contribute to the image of some of the most prestigious car brands.”
EyesOn Design Lifetime Achievement Award, selected by its previous recipients, recognizes individual excellence in automotive design. Previous award winners include such designers as Tom Gale, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Chuck Jordan, Shiro Nakamura, Sergio Pininfarina and Jack Telnack among others. One award is given every year, and recipients join a group of some of the most influential designers in the world.
EyesOn Design is one of America’s premier automotive events. Each year, the event attracts members of the transportation design community, collectors, and the general public to celebrate and reflect on design. Vehicles were chosen based on this year’s theme “Designing for the Future” by invitation only. Between 200 and 300 domestic and foreign vehicles were onsite at the event as a result of their unique designs.
About Walter de’Silva
Walter de’Silva is currently responsible for the design of all Volkswagen Group passenger car brands, including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and VW.
He began his car design career in 1972 at the age of 21, working for FIAT. He was chosen head of design for Alfa Romeo in 1986. In his 13 years at Alfa Romeo, he designed the 1991 Proteo concept car, the 1996 Alfa Romeo Nuvola concept car and 1997 Alfa Romeo 156 and the 1997 Alfa Romeo GTV and Spider and others.
In 1999, de’Silva moved to SEAT, the Spanish auto manufacturer which had become a subsidiary of VW Group. Tasked with injecting more verve and sportiness into the brand, he created the 2000 SEAT Salsa and the 2001 SEAT Tango concept cars, followed by his expressive designs for such cars as the 2002 SEAT Ibizia and Cordoba and the 2004 SEAT Altea and 2005 SEAT Leon.
In March 2002, de’Silva was appointed head of design to the Audi brand group to give that brand a more dramatic look, which included the introduction of the full-height, single-frame grille that now adorns most Audi models. Influencing the 2004 restyling of the Audi A4, his first full production design for the brand was the 2004 A6, followed by the 2005 Audi Q7, the 2006 Audi TT and his favorite, the 2007 Audi A5.
In February 2007, he became head of VW Group Design and is now responsible for all Volkswagen passenger car brands, including Skoda, SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. His designs include the 2008 VW Golf, the 2010 VW Toureg and the 2010 VW Passat among others. He is also designing the Porsche Cajun small SUV, due out in 2014.
In addition, de’Silva recently designed a limited edition, titanium-bodied compact camera, the M9 Titanium for Leica. With its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal image screen, Nappa leather trim and LED-lighted viewfinder, only 500 of the rare cameras are being produced – with a price tag of $31,300 each.