Walter de Silva - Volkswagen

Volkswagen has announced that its Head of Group Design, Walter Maria de Silva, will retire from his position come the end of November (2015). The 64-year-old Italian will, however, maintain some ties with the company by taking up an advisory role.

De Silva began work for the Volkswagen Group back in 2007, and has since held positions that include being the head of the SEAT Design Centre, head of the Audi brand group (Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT), and was responsible for the design of several key models across the group’s range.

His accomplishments include the design and creation of the 1997 Alfa 156, the 2001 Alfa 147, the Volkswagen up!, the Polo, and both the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 and Mk7.

The Italian designer was largely responsible for the design of the Audi R8 supercar and the original Audi A5 — a car de Silva calls the “most beautiful car” he had ever designed. He is also the man behind Audi’s signature Singleframe front grille — a work that gives the Ingolstadt car maker its current iconic front fascia, much like BMW has in its kidney grille design, likewise Mercedes-Benz and its Three-Pointed Star.

Mathias Muller, the new CEO of Volkswagen AG, remarked that, “Walter de Silva epitomises creativity and the Italian sense of beauty and style on the one hand and thoroughness, a systematic approach and discipline on the other.”

Speaking of his achievements, Muller 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 departments.”