Wolfsburg/Bologna, June 9, 2014: The University of Bologna (Italy) has awarded the Volkswagen Group’s Chief Designer, Walter Maria de Silva (63), an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a designer. In its citation, the university describes the scope, quality and experimental force of de Silva’s work as unparalleled anywhere in the world. Rector Ivano Dionigi bestowed the honorary degree upon de Silva in the Aula Magna of Santa Lucia.
“The industrial design work of Walter de Silva,” as explained by Ivano Dionigi, Rector of the Alma Mater Studiorum, “situates itself at the crossroads between art and technology, and keenly interpreting and harmonising the culture of the mind with the skilful hand of the artisan; he perfectly combines art, the craft, with ingenium, the inspiration.” De Silva is credited with revolutionising the style and logic of all the brands which have been the object of his work. The university honoured him as a representative of Italian design which sets an example for all specialists, and at the same time for his role as a European designer: “His success in Italy, Spain, Germany and all over the world testifies to the international dimension of his work.” According to the citation, de Silva had already received many accolades for his design and with the honorary degree, his name would now be inseparably linked to that of the Alma Mater Studiorum, the University of Bologna.
Walter Maria de Silva has been Head of Group Design at Volkswagen AG since 2007. In this position he is responsible for the design of all brands in the Group. The major highlight of his work for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand to date is the Golf Mk VII, which celebrated its world premiere in 2012. Before transferring to Wolfsburg, Italian-born de Silva had spent five years in charge of design at the Audi brand group which comprised the Audi, Lamborghini and SEAT. During his time as head of design at Audi, de Silva created several cars, including the Audi A5 Coupé, which he describes as “the most beautiful car I ever designed”. In 2010, de Silva received the Design Prize of the Federal Republic of Germany, the highest official distinction awarded for design in Germany, for the design of the Audi A5.
Walter Maria de Silva sees the focus of his work as the Volkswagen Group’s Chief Designer as developing a cross-brand design culture that preserves the independence of each individual brand while maintaining a high level of design.
Volkswagen UK is one of the country’s largest importers, accounting for almost one in ten of every car sold. The company sells a wide range of vehicles which range from compact city cars through the best-selling and renowned Golf, Polo and Beetle models, to luxury saloons and 4x4s.