1953
Born in Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria

1975 – 1979
University of applied sciences Munich, BA in Industrial Design

1979 – 1980
Royal college of Art London, Transportation Design

1980 – 2006
Audi – Volkswagen

1999
Design Team of the Year

2003
Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany

2006
CDO and Senior Executive Vice President, Kia Motors Corp.

2007
Honorary Doctorate Royal College of Art London

2009, 2011
Participation in Gwuangju International Design Biennale

2011
Man of the Year by BBC Top Gear Magazine
Man of the Year by Automobile News
All-Star by Automotive News

2012
Solo Exhibition Inside Out, GALLERY HYUNDAI, Gangnam Space, Seoul, Korea

Product and design related awards
Red dot design award / Red dot
IF product design award / International Forum Design
Good Design / The Chicago Athenaeum
Automotive Brand Contest / German Design Council
IDEA design award / Industrial Design Society of America
Good Deisng / Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea
President’s Award of Design / Korea

INTERVIEW WITH PETER SCHREYER
about his exhibition INSIDE OUT

GH (GALLERY HYUNDAI): The title of the exhibition is Inside Out. What is the most important message you would like to convey to the audience through this exhibition?

PS (Peter Schreyer): After putting it a lot of thought, I finally decided to call the exhibition Inside Out. When people see my work that I do as a designer, they don’t really know who the guy behind the work is. People may read about me in interviews or may see pictures of me, but it’s more about my reputation or the outcome of my professional career. With this art exhibition, however, I’m somehow turning my “inside out” to the public, so that people can see who Peter Schreyer is. Nothing is hidden, and there exists no filter. The viewers are free to make their own interpretations and maybe it’s the way it should be. I’m not attempting to send out a message. It’s more of an introduction, like showing a portrait of myself to the audience.

GH: Now everyone readily recognizes you as an automobile designer. How did you afford to divide your busy time to work on your art works? What kept you going?

PS: To be honest, I don’t know. Sometimes, I don’t do anything for half a year. Sometimes, I would suddenly come across something and instantaneously work on it. Sometimes a piece gets done very fast. For instance, the big paper works shown at Gwangju Design Biennale (2009) were done in one night. After work, I put up paper with some colleagues and just did it. On the other hand, in the case of VIECHER AUS DEM ZOO, which is included in this exhibit, the initial idea sketch was done in 1957 when I was a child, but the work was finished just this year. (laughs) It really depends on each piece. If not satisfied, I would call the piece incomplete. Also, when I’m traveling during the week, I keep the ideas in the back of my mind, so when I actually begin the work in my studio at night or on the weekends, I have an idea to start off from. I’m also flexible with leaving the work unfinished and coming back to it later to struggle with it. Art helps to relieve stress but it’s not that I approach the art making when I’m in a certain mood. It has to do with documenting personal and special experience, so some may contain a secret that may be puzzling to the viewer. Just like a personal diary, each work in the exhibit is an expression of a certain memory from my past.

GH: You mentioned that your artistic sensibility and creativity were influenced by your grandfather from your childhood and thereafter. Looking at the wide variety of works you have created, we can also sense the sheer passion that govems all of your creations so far. Have you ever thought of becoming an artist instead of an industrial designer at any point in your life?

PS: While growing up and attending school, my dream was to become an artist. It was only after I was about to graduate from high school that I had to decide which directions to take and what kind of job I wanted to do. Around this time, I coincidentally came across a poster for the design school in Munich (Munich University of Applied Science) and I naturally applied for it. I don’t think I even had to make the decision. Rather, the decision came to me. Things went well at the university. I feIt very comfortable designing that I continued my studies in Transportation Design at Royal College of Art, U.K.. After graduating, I started working in the automobile industry and have been since working in this field. All the while, art was more in the background although I always had it in my mind. I believe that one of the secrets of my success as a designer was the fact that I kept both the artistic and technical sides in my brain. I let the two things reflect upon each other but never tried to mix. As Peter Zec has written, I kept my position rather neutral and indifferent when it come to the discussions of the relationship between art and design. Art always remains as a part of my thinking, and for this reason, I was able to freely dive into the field of design without any constrictions imposed.

GH: There is this rumor that you were quite a rebellious teenager back in the days. Which artists or musicians were your sources of inspiration?

PS: Back in the time, I think I was always keen on the extremes somehow. For instance, in music, I liked Improvisation and Jazz, especially Free Jazz. I didn’t care much about Pop music that everyone liked. As for art, the Surrealists and the Dadaists moved me the most. I read a lot of books, went to the exhibitions and so forth. In sports, I also admired the more extreme kinds. In these ways, I always tried to think outside of the box.

GH: Could you elaborate on how you define the fine line between art and design? Which do you think is more essential to the people of this day and age?

PS: I could go on for an entire evening and longer with this topic, but if I keep myself concise, there are many things that overlap between the two. Like art, design is also creative and artistic. When you design, you have to keep in mind the big audience, because you design an object that could appeal to as many people as possible. A successfully designed product would be attractive and functional so that its user could have a better life whether a pen, a car, or a toothbrush. In art, I try to express my feelings, and don’t think about whether someone would like my work or not. It doesn’t have to do with selling an object as much as you can.
It is difficult to define which of these two are more essential. The two are very different, but they also influence each other and mutually exist. I think it’s posing a philosophical question that is similar to “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. One can’t categorically say that art came before design. The first incident of design may have occurred in prehistoric age, when human being started to “design” stones in order to cut wood and so forth. Maybe later when they had more time, they decided to paint on the walls in a cave. Still, I think it is essential to have art. Without the artistic or the creative, design would not extist.

GH: After all the amazing accomplishments you have had, what is your goal or plan for the future from hereon?

PS: My goal would be to live to see the age of a hundred and ten. (laughs) I still feel challenged at my age, and don’t feel tired from doing my job. I feel confident that I can still build more good products in design. Concerning art, I hope that I have more time to do more. This exhibition marks a very important milestone in my personal development. As I get interviewed, speak with Peter Zec, and see everything come together for this exhibit and as a book, I am learning new things about myself. Now that I see what I have done and what I am doing in a single context, I’m getting new ideas and new sources of inspiration to go on and confidently challenge myself with the next step. I could not have reached this turning point without this exhibit. So, here opens a gate to the next step in my life.