Geneva is probably the car industry’s favourite show. Nowhere near as sprawling as Frankfurt and less scattered than Paris, you can walk from one end of the exhibition to the other in five minutes.
And Geneva’s compact dimensions mean that the big makers can’t dominate with bombastic show stands. Geneva is a great leveller.
And one the interesting consequences of this levelling is that industry bosses and star designers can be found wandering around the stands, shoulder to shoulder with the press. The second press day at Geneva, after the rush of press conferences, interviews and scribbling, is the day when the industry can wander around the show stands before heading for the airport check-in.
It’s always amusing, and often instructive, to see which big cheeses are looking at what. There’s a great video doing the internet rounds of ex-BMW chief designer Chris Bangle publicly challenging new Saab design boss Jason Castriota over the PhoeniX concept. I suppose, after years of being given a kicking, Bangle couldn’t resist turning the tables and forcefully asking Castriota: “What makes the PhoeniX a Saab?”
I also spotted Aston Martin design boss Marek Reichman and Aston chief Ulrich Bez sneaking a look at the Saab. Even industry luminaries, who spend most of their time running businesses, find motor shows are the best way of sampling the global auto industry, before they disappear back to their spread sheets and scale models.
I grabbed this shot of the Mini Rocketman stand on the second day at Geneva. On the right is legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro (who else but an Italian design legend could get away with wearing shades inside, in February, in Geneva?) and his son Fabrizio. In the middle is recent-retired Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand and senior Mini designer Marcus Syring.
I spoke to Marcus later, who was clearly rather chuffed to be lavished with praise by the ‘master’ for the Mini team’s work on the Rocketman concept. Even influential designers like him are no different to the rest of us motor industry enthusiasts. It’s always a buzz to run into our heroes. Like I said, Geneva is a great leveller.