Up close with Touring Superleggera Head of Design Louis de Fabribeckers
Here's how he's grown his love of creating timeless automobiles that become collectible heirlooms
“Many aspects of my job at Touring Superleggera are incredibly exciting. Foremost for me is creating cars that are not mass-produced with a limited time-life, but handcrafted automobiles that will be collectibles of tomorrow and are passed down from generation to generation. In our office in Milan, we have a timeline of all the cars we created from 1926 to the present. It is quite something to know that I contribute to this huge history.
Our heritage has existed for more than 95 years, so it has to be considered with respect. This doesn’t mean that we are only focused on the past, but it is our legacy that we build on the actual company’s values. As Head of Design, I take care to have a Design Strategy that is in line with our foundations. In the end, our creations have to live by themselves, without an obvious reference to the past. But for those who know our heritage very well and our past creations, they will always recognise a common flavour, through the purity of surfaces, and the correctness of the proportions.
As is the case with many designers, I do not really compare my designs to see which is the best. I look at them with a father’s eye. I approach each project with the same level of passion and indeed, I endeavour to put even more passion into the next one. But there is another aspect that must be considered regarding design – it is the journey that represents the design and construction process. Creating a car is quite a long process (from the very first sketch to the final car, it takes, on average, between 12 and 18 months), so it is a real human experience of finding new ideas, resolving problems, failing, trying again, fighting to get there, sharing the passion and finally celebrating the result.
For example, with the 2014 Mini Superleggera Vision, it was a fantastic human experience; both team Mini and Touring Superleggera were extremely motivated, and the atmosphere was wonderfully positive. Every time I look at that car, all those wonderful moments we had come into mind.
I know I have a privileged place among car designers that combines many enriching and pleasant aspects – working for an emblematic company that has greatly contributed to the success of big brands like Aston Martin, Ferrari or Lamborghini is already something. I am not envious of other designers, past or present, though of course I have a great deal of respect for those who have gone before me. Added to this is a great freedom of creation, a talented and friendly team, meeting passionate people coming from all over the world, and finally having “la dolce vita” in Italy. A bad day in the office is always a good day in every respect.
If I had to pick one car that I prefer above all others, it would depend a lot on the season and the mood. Like everyone, I am deeply impressed by the Citroen DS. This aerodynamic and futuristic style is spectacular, but more than that is the fact that it wasn’t applied on a coupé or a racecar, but on an ordinary four-door sedan! It’s a real tour de force.
In another angle of my heart, you will find the Figoni Falaschi creations. These are the cars that come closest to works of art. With this kind of car, you check twice if your three-piece suit, hat, and two-tone shoes are in perfect symbiosis with your car. It makes your ride a real odyssey.
I have a particular attraction for the great outdoors. It is undoubtedly the feeling of space, of infinity, and therefore of appeasement. The mountains obviously meet these criteria. If there are beautiful roads carved into the side of the mountains where I can drive a classic car, then that to me is paradise! It is probably why I am completely in love with Tuscany. It has breathtaking scenery, exceptional wine, marvellous food, and wonderful driving roads!
Time is still my greatest challenge! The worst thing in the creative process is the planned outcome. Since it is not an arithmetical process, you do not really know when, and if, you will find the right idea. It depends a great deal on one’s inspiration. Fortunately, there are many different ways to stimulate your imagination, so in the end we are always able to stay more or less to a dedicated timeline.”