Rumor: Chris Bangle to open his own design studio

Rumors | February 17th, 2009 by 10

What started off as a rumor, it might in fact turn into reality. Chris Bangle, still the Chief Designer at BMW until the end of …

What started off as a rumor, it might in fact turn into reality. Chris Bangle, still the Chief Designer at BMW until the end of this month, is going to pursue his own design-related endeavors.

When the news of him resigning from BMW broke out, we mentioned that according to our sources, he will be looking at opening his own design studio, but still work closely with BMW. Most likely the studio will focus on non-automotive designs, due to non-disclosure agreements signed by him.

chris bangle quits bmw 0203 498x252  Rumor: Chris Bangle to open his own design studio

In a recent press conference Dr. Klaus Draeger said Bangle is “going to make his own dream come true. He’s going to open his own design studio.”  There have been also a rumor that Bangle will be going into the wine-making business. , one of his long-time dreams.

We have also seen Mr. Bangle being involved with teaching at Harvard and applying the GINA Light Concept idea to low-cost housing projects.

It will be quite exciting to see Mr. Bangle opening a car design studio, similar to Gordon Murray, one of the chief architects of the McLaren F1 who recently opened his own design shop. I  believe by having his own team and studio, Mr. Bangle would be able to apply his design ideas with no restrictions and we know that he is a man of vision.

[Source: MotorAuthority ]
  • Giom

    I, for one, would love to see what car design he would come up with if unrestricted. My guessing would be; something very unique -stretching the viewers imagination, breaking the mold a bit. It’s like… he’s done pretty, any one can do pretty… no, something that has never been done before.

  • Bob

    How much of this story did you get from Roadfly?

  • Brookside

    This sounds very familiar. I have a friend whose severance package is based on contractual agreements with her former employer that cover non-compete clause and revealing why she left the company. And there are penalties- recouping salary payoffs, etc. It’s all lawyer stuff that basically muzzles the ex-employee for a specific amount of time.

    There very likely is a non-competitive clause in Bangle’s contract which is a shame because it’ll take him out of car design (at least non-BMW) for however long they’ve negotiated- pretty cruel but that’s standard stuff- along with saying that everything’s amicable and wonderful between Bangle and BMW: almost guaranteed to be in the release contract and more or less confirmed by Bangle when he said something to the effect that he & BMW parted ways under the most congenial circumstances- sure, that’s why he quit! Because everything was hunky-dory.

    I can only wish him the best of luck. Personally, I wish he had hired a tougher contract lawyer. The idea of an incredibly talented influential designer basically going into semi-retirement (vineyard owner? What!) and starting a studio that designs everything but automobiles, aside from a BMW consultancy gig (which is probably just there as window dressing to make everyone feel like he has a hand in things) is just mind-boggling.

    I think the whole thing is sad. But when power goes against power there’s always going to be some un-tidy bits and pieces. But to me, this is all smoke and phony smiley-faces. We can follow what Bangle does, what contracts he gets for his new studio- and if they are worthy jobs.

    What (imho) should happen is that another automobile company hire Bangle right away and pay off the terms of his non-compete contract from BMW.


  • Tom

    I wonder if the Big Three will take interest in hiring Bangle given his relative “success” at BMW.

  • Giom

    @Brookside: I’m not disagreeing with you on any point you’re making. But, you are assumimg the worst case cenario between them. All I’m saying, hold off on the assumptions.

  • Brookside


    In other words you are counseling me to say what you’d be comfortable hearing?

    Sorry. No can do.

    Let me say I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. I think you’re very astute about automobile design.

    I did pull some punches- I know 3 (& only mentioned one) people who’ve left companies in, from what we can tell from these reports, similar circumstances, and all of them had contracts that basically spelled out what they could and could not do in terms of divulging inside knowledge of their previous company’s intellectual property and that no disparaging remarks about the former employer would be released, backed up in legalese by very strict financial penalties. I’d be happy to share more with you if you’d like to get in touch with me @Facebook and we can have a little chat on the side.

    Truthfully, I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know of these agreements and perhaps some of my post explains the situation Bangle very likely finds himself in.
    Yes, I assume, but there are too many similarities and coincidences in the manner in which Bangle departed BMW for me to think that his contract is essentially much different than those I’m familiar with thru second-hand knowledge.
    I think shedding light on a very possible scenario is more valuable and mature than constantly believing what officialdom would have you think. Afterall, this is a forum for ideas and opinions.

    Even if I’m wrong, or parts of what I’ve said are incorrect, understanding and learning what may be in play begins to clear up the patently fishy rosy picture BMW paints of Bangle’s relationship with his former employer.

    What I hoped for is for someone with 1st-hand legal knowledge to spell out what a typical severance package might involve- tho I doubt that there would be a lot of speculation about Bangle from them simply because of the legal protocols they may feel uncomfortable divulging in this type of forum.

    When lead designers JMays and Freeman Thomas left Audi/VW 10 years ago Audi/VW put out press releases describing their departure as amicable and mutually beneficial (sound familiar?). Mays and Thomas (especially Thomas) gave subsequent interviews describing a company that was moribund (certainly not the case at BMW), afraid of change and detailed VW’s hazy conception of what Audi’s real role was within the organization. Thomas talked about how hard it was to convince VW to make the Beetle….and that the TT design was done as a private design because no one within VW wanted to support an Audi coupe at that time. Both left because of bureaucratic infighting and a lack of support for ideas that didn’t conform to set-in-stone long-range plans. You can Google “Freeman Thomas” and probably find a lot more information about his feelings towards his former employer. For awhile there he was certainly a chatty fellow.

    The point is that Bangle, at the top of his career has left BMW and now everyone involved is making warm fuzzy pronouncements about how the guy finally gets his own studio but won’t be designing automobiles except as a BMW consultant- and might become a vintner? Please! Can we get some reality here? My speculation may add fuel to the fire, but I think I’ve also shed some light on how much more there possibly is to this other than the controlled narrative that is coming out of Munich.

  • Giom

    @Brookside: Like I said, I was agreeing with everything you said. But speculation isn’t what this blog is about. I much rather want to hear concrete accounts of what aspired in stead of hearing;

    “…but I think I’ve also shed some light on how much more there possibly is to this other than the controlled narrative that is coming out of Munich.”

    You may be right, but it is still speculative stuff that everybody can do without. In time, we will learn the truth, and then all this was for nothing.

  • Brookside

    Giom, your generalizations are more sweeping than anything I’ve said.
    I wouldn’t be so quick to judge others by your own ethics.
    I doubt that there was anything aspirational….do you mean “transpired?

    “Everybody”, you speak for everyone? And I doubt that we will ever learn the “truth”. But I think that most of what I’ve talked about is close to the reality of Bangle’s dismissal/resignment/mutual break-up. Whatever.

    I’ll stand by what I’ve said in earlier posts.

  • Giom


    Forgive my english… I’m not english speaking. I meant transpired.

    You’re way too defensive my friend. I’m not picking a fight. I’m just saying the less gossip, the better.

  • Rahoulpatil

    he is a great lamp of achievement for me and i will like to see him making his dream true……always my”GURU”…