This project is more than just the exciting task of designing a highly complex product. The project “YES! – Young Engineers Sportscar” is closely linked to the origin story of this agency. At first Oliver Schweizer effectively was a partner and accompanied the company that emerged around the product with his own design agency for all these years.
3-2-1: There were three students out of two different faculties who wanted to build one sports car together. The two automotive engineers Herbert Funke und Phlipp Will decided in Cologne in 1997 to develop their already extensive thesis work: A small, lightweight, handy mid-engine sports car should be developed that pointedly resigned all comfort facilities to make the purest mode of driving pleasure experience-able. To create the suitable design for their project, they eventually gained Oliver Schweizer who was thinking about the same theme for his own thesis work in Karlsruhe.
Together, the three wrote an exposé to present their proposal to sponsors. In the automotive industry those responsible were simply fascinated by the concept and first sketches. Furthermore companies interested were those that confirmed support for the prototyping process and helped by supplying the necessary components.
While Herbert and Philipp developed the space-frame chassis for the „YES! – Young Engineers Sportscar“, Oliver focused on the design of the roadster: It should follow the concept of a „raw“, minimalistic sports car and included a car body as compact as possible and to illustrate the character of a “curve bandit” through short overhangs. Form Follows Function. Also the position of the engine in front of the rear axle is emphasized by having the optical gravity point of the car’s silhouette at the same point. The heavily exposed rear wheel arches are pushing the roadster vehemently forward and illustrate clearly which axis is powered. Overall the car body’s design is sober, without spoiler-falderal or any other poser details. Also the interior is attractive in its ascetic simplicity.
After thousands of hours of work, finally a prototype could be realised and the possibility arose to present it at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1999. What the visitors saw was actually a design show car because at that time the YES! wasn’t ready to start… yet.
Oliver and Philipp knew how to describe their project in distinctive words, so that it was understood by the interested public. With the help of friend and graphic designer Andreas Fink, a booklet for the IAA was developed that displayed in an atmospherically dense scenery of words and images to provide an excellent product description ,capturing perfectly the vision of the “curve bandit”.
As a result the three of them experienced a tremendous medial response. The automotive press described the YES! as the „most distinguished driving machine of our time“. Other media reported on the managerial performance to place a new product in this close market, they were even called a paragon for viral marketing.
Reinforced by the overwhelming resonance from the fair visitors and the press, Herbert and Philipp decided to venture the step into self-employment and to found an engineering company. In this framework they planed to push the development of the YES! to be able to set up a small-scale series.
The economically surrounding appeared that much euphoric that finance institutes were willing to make generous sourcing possible. Additional the young entrepreneurs were courted by eastern states of Germany to relocate their headquarters there.
Oliver decided himself against the entry into the company because the possibilities to be able to work on design assignments for different branches would have been limited. Rather he founded his own agency in Stuttgart in 2000 and remained faithful to the company as a service provider.
The engineers moved to an old hangar close to Dresden, also in 2000. The hangar built in the 1930s is part of an industrial park and offered – with it’s location directly connected to a small airport – perfect conditions to build up the company around the YES!. The airport could be used as „in-house“ test track and for client presentations. The hangar offered the space to run the manufacture of the YES! and to be able to carry on other development requests. Of course the designs of the office and show rooms were developed in Stuttgart.
The first YES! of the series production could be delivered in 2001. The customers were able to configure their vehicle individually. This was not just about the choice of features or colours but about a tailor-made driver’s space. In a special seating box the seat and pedal system could be adjusted to the individual demands.
Of course, a small series production could not gain high earnings. Respectively the budget for marketing and sales was small. All the more creativity was demanded for all activities. We succeeded – despite of limited funds – to design high class communication media and fair stands from Frankfurt to Tokyo that created an appropriate platform for the YES!.
In 2006 we presented the second, completely renewed generation of the YES!. As the first generation requested partly an immense driving knowledge, the driving dynamics were clearly improved – not least by the wheel base grown by 100 mm and less gauge of the rear axis. The redesign also offered the chance to refresh the car body and interior and improve its quality objectively. We dynamized the whole sculpture which is reflected in the complexity of the surfaces and many details. The re-interpretation of the design kept all formative style elements and gently refined them. That’s why we could create an up to date successor without elemental change of the character.
In the following years the Funke & Will AG got into financial trouble caused by management mistakes that led into bankruptcy in 2009. Marco Kunz, an excited YES! driver himself, took over the brand and produces the roadster today on demand.
As much as he and his colleagues were impressed by the car, they quarreled with the former logo: A three-leaf clover in an orange rectangle. So we were asked to design a new logo. Out of a variety of ideas finally a version emerged that had gained rather less attention at the beginning. On closer examination, it became clear that this design displays all attributes of the roadster: The logo is clear and honest; it conveys status, power and self-confidence (by the width of the Y, and the strong ring). At the same time it also has a young, sporty and timeless attitude as simple and basic geometric shapes seem never go out.