smart is an official supporter and partner of the “Night Fever. Design and Club Culture 1960 – today“ exhibition at Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. With the smart mobile disco designed by Konstantin Grcic, it also adds its own exhibit to the vibrant blend on display. At the exhibition’s opening, smart magazine caught up with Head of smart Dr. Annette Winkler to discuss clubs, design, and the future of smart.

Dr. Winkler, what do you extract for yourself from the “Night Fever“ exhibition at Vitra Design Museum?
Dr. Annette Winkler: Mainly the aspect of creativity, which becomes especially evident at one particular exhibition content: Anyone who lacked the necessary cash to get into some of the clubs on display could often find a way to make up for that by using creativity and his or her own talents. That’s a great fit with smart, because we, throughout our history, also replaced non-existent huge budgets with plenty of creativity.

 Dr. Annette Winkler speaks at the opening of the “Night Fever. Design and Club Culture 1960 – today“ exhibition.
smart CEO Dr. Annette Winkler at the opening of the “Night Fever. Design and Club Culture 1960 – today“ exhibition.

smart continuously sets new design benchmarks. What’s the value of great design and how can you make it trigger emotions?
Dr. Annette Winkler: Design shows a vehicle’s attitude. It illustrates the culture the car embodies. Everything about and inside a smart needs to have a purpose; we never design anything superfluous. And that’s how, across almost two decades of our history, we’ve managed to create a really iconic car.

Is smart also about explicitly contradicting the status quo?
Dr. Annette Winkler: Definitely. The smart DNA contains a clear call for contradiction. You can’t emphasize the importance of contradiction and lateral thinking in our company culture enough. Which, in turn, in my point of view ties back to club culture: Clubs are still all about offering space for innovation, creativity, and ideas beyond the mainstream.

Dr. Annette Winkler on the future of smart
“Konstantin Grcic and his team have really outdone themselves.”
Everything about – and inside – a smart needs to have a purpose; we never design anything superfluous.
Dr. Annette Winkler

So, how does smart continue to stay ahead of the times?
Dr. Annette Winkler:  A very tangible example would be our decision to become the first brand to switch its entire model range to electric drive trains, once again making us a pioneer and pacemaker of urban mobility – in a highly consistent and even brave way. A key building block of our “forward thinking” approach is also connectivity of the smart car. Via smartphone, we make our customers’ lives in the city a lot easier and more convenient by a range of numerous digital services: from preheating their smart to receiving rain warnings if they’ve left their convertible top or sunroof open. And there’s more: We also enable people to share their smart with a select group of family, friends, or colleagues. Everything without having to hand over keys in person. One of many other services currently under development is package delivery to the car’s trunk.

Where do you see smart in 20 years?
Dr. Annette Winkler: This question keeps us busy constantly. It is the reason why we have developed the smart vision EQ, which shows how urban mobility will continue to change in a radical way through the possibilities of digitization, electric and autonomated driving. smart wants to play an active role to keep realizing our vision: smart is not just a car, it is a big idea.