Designer Kel Wen talks ARTEON
What happens when you marry fashion with Volkswagen's most stylish model? We speak to designer Kel Wen of fashion label Behati, who conceptualised and directed Art on Wheels, the Arteon brand video
What were your first thoughts when you saw the Arteon?
Arteon is such an elegant name, and has a premium sound to it, it reminded me of the words "Art" and "Ace". The name lives up to the image of what Arteon is about, high performance with a distinctive character. And it definitely looked it when I first laid my eyes on the Arteon. It is such a suave car, the lines are impeccably sleek and sharp, every angle has a unique shape. Structure and silhouette is important, even with the clothes I design, so I do feel the Arteon had the impact that I was expecting from its name.
What was the inspiration for the Art on Wheels video?
I imagined a time portal - I saw the Arteon being born in the Volkswagen factory and moving through an electrifying tunnel before breaking out into this wide desert. This concept expresses freedom that I personally felt from the design of the Arteon, it was a form of transportation that offers such possibilities, and the desert was the first thing in my mind when I imagined myself driving the Arteon out. I wanted the audience to be able to get that dreamy sensation visually.
The experience ...
Shooting the Arteon was very different from shooting fashion models and was definitely more challenging. Everything was upscaled, the object size was bigger, movement space requirement was bigger; and every angle had a reflection, so there was technical difficulty because we did not want our camera reflection to be captured on screen.
Creative-wise I think the biggest challenge was to express the character of car as it didn't have "eyes" and doesn't speak, so to explain that required interesting locations and props to paint that visual.
I was glad the Arteon's LED headlights has movement, it helped to add emotion to the car. I loved the continuous light strip at the front grille, it was sexy and fierce, like perfect brows to eyes.
"The Arteon has such a strong character, with style that is a little naughty, and a lot of class. Its signature headlights and tail lights were the highlights for me, they were groovy and added so much charm to the design, and that was why I introduced them first in the video."
Any favourite memories during the shoot?
Definitely the two outdoor scenes - the tunnel was the most challenging in terms of
directing in the car while in motion but I learned a lot from that night, it was my
Fast & Furious moment!
I had so much fun shooting the "desert" scene in Melaka, it was my first time shooting in my hometown, and maybe because I hadn't had much chance to work outdoors since the pandemic started. That was also when I really witnessed how powerful the Arteon was, it's breathtaking to just marvel at how smooth it drifted on the sand.
You are a fashion designer who moonlights as a video producer/director. How
did that happen?
I discovered filmmaking by accident when I wanted to develop fashion films for my
label. I had talked to a few directors on a project for Behati before, but none
were able to envision what I wanted, so I kind of just went for it myself - it was
never the plan! I was into movies as a kid, but I wasn't exposed to the film
industry growing up. So now I direct all the fashion films for Behati. My brother
Kelson helps me a lot in the production because he studied film in college.
I believe we can have more than just one career, I was taught to stick with one, but in this new age we can learn as much skills as we can using the technology we have today.
Tell us about the label behind the designer?
Behati has African origins and means "blessed". The meaning defines what I do for the brand, how I am inspired by multiracial costumes of Malaysia and how I reinvent them into the current fashion trends. Behati focuses on contemporary traditional wear.
The label is also a bit of a maverick, known for breaking traditional rules in fashion - famously for our viral oversized Baju Melayu. We speak a modern language in terms of style, and I always try to innovate by merging what has been done in the past with what the current fashion is today.
Breathing fashion into the Arteon
I try to keep 'fashion' as the main element in all my work. Fashion is not just about clothes or model, it's fancy, glamorous and has such a modern vibe. I feel I delivered that message with Arteon by making the video contemporary and exciting.
There is an element of surprise with the video composition, you can almost feel the character of the car because of the dynamic angles I chose for the video that made it impactful.
The choice of music also played a huge role when it comes to delivering the vibe of 'fashion', I worked with long-time Behati collaborator Haus of Rn for the video, and we incorporated house music samples inspired by Vogue into the track.
What else interests you?
I enjoy music a lot. I studied piano theory when I was little, and I wanted to be
in the music industry after graduation but I was too afraid. By making fashion
films, I have the chance to experiment with music here and there, I'm quite happy
to be able to use some of my knowledge in music today.
Do you like cars?
I only like fancy cars haha! But I do have early memories of Volkswagen. As a
child, I told my mum I wanted my first car to be a Beetle because there was a
bright yellow one at school that caught my eye every time it passed by. I remember
wanting to get to know the driver and thinking that he must have such an
interesting personality! My other exposure to cars was through my dad, he had a
huge collection of Hot Wheels, and I was frustrated that I never got to play with
them because they were only for display.
Can there be a connection between cars and fashion?
A car is part of fashion but made in metal. Like clothes, a car makes a person
look good and be practical in their life. Fashion is such a part of the modern
lifestyle, and I see a car, especially the Arteon as a fashion accessory to a