Walter Maria de Silva (64),
Head of Group Design, is retiring with effect from the end of November 2015,
according to a press release issued by the company. De Silva assumed design
responsibility for all passenger car brands within the Volkswagen Group in
February 2007. Walter de Silva will continue his links with the Group in an
Walter Maria de Silva was born
in Lecco (Italy) on February 27, 1951 and joined the Volkswagen Group 17 years
ago when he became Head of the SEAT Design Centre in 1998. He was put in charge
of the design of the Audi brand group, including the brands Audi, Lamborghini
and SEAT, in 2002. His new design language with Audi was epitomised by the 6th
generation of the Audi A6 and Audi A5 Coupé. He was appointed Head of Group
Design at Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft in 2007. Walter de Silva saw the main
focus of his work as design chief in establishing and nurturing a common design
culture across all brands, which nevertheless allows each brand to retain a
high degree of creative autonomy.
The CEO of Volkswagen
Aktiengesellschaft, Matthias Müller, paid tribute to Walter de Silva's work
with these words: "Walter de Silva epitomizes creativity and the Italian
sense of beauty and style on the one hand and thoroughness, a systematic
approach and discipline on the other." Acknowledging de Silva's definitive
achievements for Volkswagen, Müller said: "Walter de Silva succeeded in
establishing a design culture and methodology across all Group brands that is
unique in our industry. At the same time, he was the driving force in
preserving a high degree of creative autonomy for the brands and their design
The outstanding vehicles
created by de Silva include the Alfa 156 (1997) and 147 (2001), the Volkswagen
up!, the Polo and the Golf 6 and 7, the Audi R8 and the Audi A5, about which de
Silva said that it was "the most beautiful car" he had ever designed.
Walter de Silva received
numerous design awards for his work, including the "Design Prize of the
Federal Republic of Germany 2010," the highest official distinction
awarded for design in Germany, for the design of the Audi A5. He received the "Compasso
d'Oro" (Golden Compass), one of the most prestigious design awards in
Italy, in 2011. An international expert panel described Walter de Silva as the
"undisputed main protagonist of Italian design" and awarded him the
prize for a career spanning over forty years.
De Silva began his
professional career at the Fiat Design Centre in Turin in 1972. He joined
Studio R. Bonetto in Milan in 1975. De Silva was Head of the Industrial Design
and Automobiles Area at the Instituto Idea in Turin from 1979 to 1986. After a
short stint working for "Trussardi Design Milano," he switched to
Alfa Romeo in 1986, where he was Head of Design until 1998. De Silva
established a new design philosophy of the brand with the Alfa Romeo 156
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