30 years of PistenBully design
Michael Söhngen lives for optics and function at the highest level
For more than 50 years, Kässbohrer has been developing vehicles that have to push the limits of technology in order to be used reliably at their destination. At the same time, the demand for aesthetics is also high: customers want high-performance machines that also look good. Designer Michael Söhngen makes it possible.
Plastic offers creative possibilities for the PistenBully 300
A PistenBully not only has to deliver top technical performance, it also has to look good! Kässbohrer has been living the credo of this unbeatable combination of function and beauty of form since the early 1990s. With the conversion of the driver's cab from sheet metal to plastic, the young designer then had the opportunity to organically shape the PistenBully 300. The first renderings were created with felt-tip pen and chalk, and he then shaped the corresponding models 1:1 by hand from a full block of special foam. "You can really still talk about craftsmanship there," Söhngen recalls of those exciting beginnings. "The managing director at the time, Erwin Wieland, had me show him every step I took." Thanks to his often unconventional bold ideas, he liked to welcome Söhngen with the words, "Here comes my Colani again!"
Bringing the PistenBully 600 from the drawing board into the CAD age
The development of the PistenBully 600 at the beginning of the 2000s was not only a technical milestone, but also a turning point in terms of design with the entry into the computer age. "At the time, it was an enormous feat, because the change from a tangible model to a display on the screen was new for everyone involved. It cost us countless night shifts!" Today, Söhngen can smile about it. "There was only one specialist who could draw free surfaces at all with the CAD program. I was then finally able to take a CAD training course, which was my personal entry into the digital world." Success proved everyone right: the modern PistenBully 600 quickly became a bread-and-butter machine, as we all know.
Top design for the cab interiors, too
With the PistenBully 400 project, Michael Söhngen finally went into business for himself in 2009. "For really good results, variety is a prerequisite. I wanted even more variety in my work, because thinking outside the box provides inspiration and new ideas." His "design factory" is now known for many an exotic sports car, but also for top design in industrial products for a wide range of medium-sized companies. The complete operating concept with joystick and armrest for the driver's seat comes from Nürtingen, as does the spectacular interior and exterior design of the PistenBully 800.
What distinguishes the design of PistenBully?
Aesthetics paired with functionality, that sounds much simpler than it is. This combination can only succeed through close cooperation between Kässbohrer's top engineers and the design team at Söhngen-Design. The prerequisite is a high level of understanding on the part of the designers for a wide range of technical processes and for the sophisticated technology of the vehicles, but also an open ear for the needs of fitters and mechanics who will later have to work on the PistenBully under tough conditions. This allows dual functions to be realized, such as the stylish "beard" around the "mouth" of the machine, which provides the necessary clearance for the hydraulics of the blade. Looking at the machine, an observer would associate the pronounced C-pillar, with its elegant curve, with stability, safety and thrust. At the same time, this C-pillar is used for air supply, rollover stability and thermal insulation.
PistenBully is legendary
"The machine is designed down to the smallest details to form a unique functional exciting aesthetic as a whole," explains Michael Söhngen. The concept works. It's not for nothing that the PistenBully is not only a technically high-quality piece of work equipment but has also developed into a cult vehicle with a huge fan base - also thanks to its cool look.
So, it's no surprise that Michael Söhngen still designs all PistenBully vehicles after more than 30 years - with the same passion as when he first painted the PistenBully 300.