Walter de Silva

Walter Maria de Silva (born 27 February 1951 in Lecco, Italy) is an Italian car designer and former head of Volkswagen Group Design, until 2015. Since beginning his car design career in 1972 as trainee car designer for Fiat's Style Centre. De Silva has also worked as a designer at I.DE.A Institute, and as head of design for Alfa Romeo, SEAT and the 'Audi brand group'.[1] He is presently President of the Design Studio Walter De Silva & Partners.

Walter Maria de Silva
Born (1951-02-27) 27 February 1951 (age 72)
Lecco, Italy
Years active1972-present


Fiat 1972-1977Edit

Walter de Silva began his career in 1972 at age 21, working for Centro Stile Fiat.[1]

I.DE.A. Institute 1977-1986Edit

After his experience at Fiat, Walter de Silva worked at the I.DE.A Institute in Turin, Italy for nine years under the direction of Franco Mantegazza and Renzo Piano.[1]

Alfa Romeo 1986-1999Edit

In 1986 Walter de Silva was recruited away from the I.DE.A. Institute to become head of Alfa Romeo's Centro Stile. Walter de Silva remained in this role until 1999.[1]

At Alfa Romeo, de Silva led the renewal of the brand's design language and repositioning.[2]

SEAT 1999-2002Edit

In 1999 Ferdinand Piëch assigned Walter de Silva to work for the Volkswagen Group SEAT division, with the aim of injecting verve and sportiness to SEAT design. The result was SEAT 'auto emoción' philosophy which was first demonstrated in the 2000 SEAT Salsa and the 2001 SEAT Tango concept cars,[3] as a foretaste of SEAT new design language, with the latter receiving in 2002 the 'Autonis Award' in the Concept Car category.[4] His more expressive design approach has since influenced the form and look of numerous cars, such as the 2002 SEAT Córdoba and SEAT Ibiza, as well as the 2004 SEAT Altea and 2005 SEAT León which were highly acclaimed and subsequently received several design awards (e.g. Red dot design award, Autonis award, 'The World's Most Beautiful Automobile 2004' award in Milan [5][6][7] etc.).

Audi brand group 2002-2007Edit

In March 2002 Walter de Silva was appointed Head of Design to the now-defunct Audi brand group which encompassed the Audi, SEAT and Lamborghini brands. Volkswagen Group management charged de Silva with giving the Audi range a more emotional design language which included the controversial introduction of the full-height, single-frame front grille that now adorns all Audi models. His first full design for a production Audi was the 2005 A6. He has since gone on to contribute to the 2005 Audi Q7, 2006 Audi TT and the 2007 Audi A5, which is reportedly his favourite design.[8]

Volkswagen Group 2007-2015Edit

Following the appointment of former Audi chairman Martin Winterkorn as the chairman of the Volkswagen Group in January 2007, de Silva was appointed as Head of Volkswagen Group Design effective from 1 February 2007 and was responsible for the overall strategic design direction of all VW passenger car brands including Škoda, SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. de Silva replaced Murat Günak and his first task was to re-evaluate the designs of three then-imminent Volkswagen models which had been penned by his predecessor: the 2008 Golf, the 2008 Passat CC and the 2008 Scirocco.[9]

Walter De Silva & Partners 2020 - PresentEdit

After some time of inactivity, Walter De Silva launched Walter De Silva & Partners with other designers. This new company offers services of design consultancy to car manufacturers with a strong point on brand & product identity. With his partners, Walter De Silva was in charge of the design of the Hongqi S9 designed for SilkFAW.



  1. ^ a b c d "Who's Where: Walter de'Silva appointed Head of VW Group Design". Car Design News. Car Design News Ltd. 2007-01-25. Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-10. Volkswagen has just announced that Walter de'Silva, 55, has been appointed Head of Volkswagen Group Design.
  2. ^ 'Who's Where: Walter de'Silva appointed Head of VW Group Design', Car Design News, 25 Jan 2007 "Walter de'Silva - Car Design News". Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-04-12., accessed 27 Jan 2007
  3. ^ Frankfurt Motor Show 2001 - Highlights "Frankfurt Motor Show 2001 Highlights - SEAT Tango". Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
  4. ^ SEAT Tango receives the Autonis design award. " » Seat Tango receives the "autonis" design award". Archived from the original on 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  5. ^ SEAT Altea wins special award from an international jury "SEAT Altea Wins Special Award from an International Jury". Archived from the original on 2014-10-25. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  6. ^ SEAT Altea receives the Autonis design award "SEAT Altea Receives the 'autonis' Design Award". Archived from the original on 2015-07-17. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  7. ^ SEAT Altea prototype receives european design award "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2016-01-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "interview_with_walter_desilva". Retrieved 2008-01-27.
  9. ^ 'VW sent back to drawing board',, 2 Feb 2007, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-02-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), accessed 11 Feb 2007
  10. ^ "Leica Camera AG - Photography - M9 Titanium". Archived from the original on 2010-12-20. Retrieved 2010-12-21.