At the head of DS design, Thierry Métroz, keen on craftsmanship, draws an additional source of creativity from the bucolic atmosphere of the former hunting lodge of the Ferté-Vidame test center.
At least one to two days a month, sometimes more, Thierry Métroz is unreachable. Not that the DS design director does not want to be disturbed but due to a lack of network, because his smartphone does not pick up. On these days, it is usually found in a clearing of Perche on an 800 hectare property. Bordered by a 12-kilometer wall, it is located a stone’s throw from the ruins of the Château de la Ferté-Vidame. The estate, not too far from Paris and the Quai de Javel factory, was acquired by André Citroën between the wars. Died in 1935, the industrialist did not see the double-chevron firm set up its technical and prototype testing center there in November 1938. During the war, an attic of the farm was used as a hideout for prototypes of the 2 CV ( which will not be rediscovered until the end of the 1970s). The tracks of La Ferté were also widely used for the development of the DS and its famous hydropneumatic suspension, at the dawn of the fifties.
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“GRAIN NOURISHED” PROTOTYPES
At the beginning of the XXIe century, this place extends its field of action, becoming an annex of the new design pole erected by PSA within the DNA (Automotive Design Network) in Vélizy. Determined to dust off the rafters, Jean-Pierre Ploué, the new Citroën design manager, is having a modern building entirely glazed at La Ferté-Vidame. Next to the La Faisanderie hunting lodge, this extension welcomes designers for a new kind of work session. Cradled by the cooing of birds and intoxicated by the scents of the woods, the stylists give birth to a design that Ploué qualifies as “grain fed”. This makes the Franc-Comtois Thierry Métroz smile, his oldest accomplice and fellow student at the Besançon School of Architecture and Olivier de Serres in Paris (ENSAAMA), debauched from Renault to drive the Citroën style then, to from 2012, that of the DS line became the luxury brand of PSA.
Since then, the latter has become, with his teams, an assiduous user of La Ferté facilities. “Very early in the development process of a new car, we bring in the styling models in foam or clay [argile, NDLR],at scale 1. We roll them by securing them to an electric skateboard, in the middle of the vehicles of the current range and the competition. This allows us to see things that could escape us on a screen or on the DNA terrace. This studio even has technical facilities for modeling new pieces during the day. ” The designer praises these sessions which contribute to the cohesion of the team. “Sometimes the pavilion is used for brainstorming sessions on future projects. Getting oxygenated in the green and finding yourself in another environment feeds our imagination. ”
Thierry Métroz and DS: a straightforward merger. The two letters symbolize the French art of living and defend the know-how of French luxury through noble materials and craftsmanship and excellence. Universes that speak to this Bisontin, who grew up with a passion for watchmaking and marquetry. “It’s a return to my first love,” he says.
Through finishes that borrow their name from mythical places in Paris (Bastille, Rivoli, Faubourg and Opéra), the DS creations feature, in particular, the guilloche of certain metal parts, the pearl stitch stitching and the bracelet motif of the upholstery in leather. The emphasis on craftsmanship is combined with the latest technology. “Reconciling craftsmanship and technology, hot and cold is what is most difficult.” To meet this challenge, Thierry Métroz relies on a team of 45 people as passionate as they are talented. With the ambition of becoming “the Vuitton of the automobile”.