Less than three years after having been named design director at Bentley Luc Donckerwolke has called it quits. Bentley has announced VW Group veteran Stefan Sielaff as his successor.
Donckerwolke’s resignation from the top role at Bentley design is said to have come as a shock. But while we fully expected this decision to have been a backlash to the comments made by the outspoken designer on the eve of the Lincoln Continental concept’s reveal in New York earlier this year, insiders have assured us this is not the case.
Sielaff, current head of Volkswagen Group interiors and design director of the firm’s advanced design center in Potsdam, will join Bentley on July 1, 2015. In his new role, he will report to Rolf Frech, a member of the board for engineering at the Crewe-based firm. He will also retain his position as head of VW Group interior design and his existing relationship with VW Group head of design Walter de Silva.
Donckerwolke and Sielaff both started their careers at Audi just one year apart. While Donckerwolke joined Audi as an exterior designer following his studies at Art Center Europe in Vevey, Switzerland, Seilaff started as an intern at the brand’s design studio from the Royal College of Art in London.
Seilaff rose through the ranks to become head of Audi Design — following a three-year stint at rival Mercedes — and replaced retiring head Gerhard Pfefferle in 2006. He held the position for five years and led a team of over 350 designers with responsibility for exterior, interior and color and trim design for the entire portfolio, including concept cars. He also had responsibility for Lamborghini and SEAT. In 2012 he took over his current responsibilities as head of VW Group interiors and design director of the firm’s advanced design center in Potsdam, following Thomas Ingenlath’s departure to lead Volvo design.
Donckerwolke has also had a long career at VW Group. Before joining Bentley, where he was responsible for overseeing the design gestation of the forthcoming Betangya SUV and new Continental production cars as well as the EXP 10 Speed 6 concept, Donckerwolke led VW Advanced Design, headed up SEAT’s design efforts in Spain and was head of design at Lamborghini, where he was responsible for the design of the Gallardo and Murcielago. He’s also worked for Audi on two separate occasions in Munich and Ingolstadt, and spent several years as exterior design director at Skoda.
Given his experience within the Group, Donckerwolke was expected to succeed Walter de Silva as Head of VW Group Design. Now his next career move is not yet clear. We’ll keep you posted.