In special moments of our everyday lives, we meet up with pure beauty. We meet up with objects that touch us, objects that develop an impact all their own, with flowing boundaries between form and function, between art and design – an individual experience for every beholder.

This year’s special exhibition at Cologne Fine Art plays with this harmony of style and material. Icons of automobile design, of haute couture and design objects from the 20th century whisk our eyes and spirits away to another era, symbolising perfect harmony between form and function, between art and life.

Cologne: 1901 Vis-à-Vis motor vehicle

1901 Vis-à-Vis motor vehicle | Courtesy: Kölnisches Stadtmuseum

This spectacular vehicle, a pioneer vehicle from the early years of series production, originated around 1901 in a back courtyard in Cologne-Sülz from the Kölner Motorenwagen-Fabrik GmbH.

The exterior of the vehicle is quite reminiscent of the shape of a coach. Different from today, the occupants didn't sit behind one another, but instead facing each other. This explains the name of the car: Vis-à-Vis. One of the oldest still existing automobile built in Cologne made use of a combustion engine from the French company "de dion bouton", whose original patent was developed in Cologne by Wilhelm Maybach.

Milan: 1969 Lamborghini Espada by Bertone

1969 Lamborghini Espada by Bertone

One of the first Milan-based automotive engineers was Ceirano GB & C.

Even before the Second World War, Milan, with 300 automobile manufacturers and designers, was one of the most rapidly growing automobile regions of Italy. Today most of the companies are now part of the Fiat Group, which still uses designs from Zagato, Bertone, Giugiaro and others.

The Lamborghini Espada shown here was designed by Marcello Gandini during his time as head designer at Bertone. His role models were the prototypes of 1967, like the Lamborghini Marzal and the Jaguar Piraña. This design was very futuristic at that time, but paved the way for the appearance of other sports cars.

Paris: 1929 Bugatti Typ 38 by Figony

1929 Bugatti Typ 38 by Figony

France, especially Lyon and Paris, was considered a pioneer in car body engineering during the 1920s and 1930s.

The Bugatti Type 38 shown here, the body of which was developed by Giuseppe Figoni, is a masterpiece among his early works. The car body reflects the preferred design of the time and provided the foundation for later vehicles like the 165 Delahaye or the T150 Talbot Lago. Figoni was especially known for his superstructures on the Delage chassis.

Munich: 1959 Auto Union 1000 SP

Poster of Auto Union 1000 SP

The first motorcar was developed by Carl Benz in Mannheim. A short time later he founded the company Benz & Cie in 1883. In 1916 this was followed by the founding of BMW and Porsche, which set standards with new designs.

The Auto Union 1000 SP model shown here is the last car built under the flag of the Auto Union AG. The name Auto Union has its origin in the cooperation of Audi, Wanderer, DKW and the Horchwerken, and became known in the 1930s.

Audi was the result of the fusion of Auto Union and the Neckarsulmer Motorenwerken in 1969.

Coventry: 1935 Bentley 6 L Coupé

The Bentley 6.5 L and its high-performance variant Bentley Speed Six were car models of the manufacturer Bentley.

The "Speed Six" was the most successful model of all prewar racing Bentleys. However, due to its high costs, only 544 units were manufactured. The automobile shown here is a typical saloon body of English design and is reminiscent of the Gran Turismo of its time.

The car body is an example of English design, and thus distinguishes itself clearly from elegant French, utilitarian German and fashionable Italian car body design.