CAR Magazine interviews Chris Bangle

Interesting | December 23rd, 2009 by 13
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2009 started for BMW with a big surprise. BMW’s Chief of Design, Chris Bangle left the company after a long, profitable and somewhat controversial career …

2009 started for BMW with a big surprise. BMW’s Chief of Design, Chris Bangle left the company after a long, profitable and somewhat controversial career with the german automaker. The real reasons behind the separation have never been revealed by either of the two parties, but several rumors floated around the internet.

After leaving the company, Chris Bangle turned to some of his long-time passions: lecture sessions at prestigious schools, fundraiser events as a guest speaker or cultivating his passion for wines.

UK magazine, CAR, brings back the spotlight on Chris Bangle with an interview published today and which we invite you to read it further.

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Chris Bangle is a hard act to follow, even for Chris Bangle. Like him or loath him, the former BMW design director is one of the most famous car designers of our times, recognised for shaking the established status quo with his ‘flame surfacing’ and his radical take on car design.

Then in March 2009, after 16 solid years, Bangle announced his retirement from the Bavarian brand and – seemingly – car design. He packed suitcase and moved to an abandoned farmhouse in the Piemonte hills which he has been busy transforming into a home, a studio to house his design consultancy Chris Bangle Associates, and a vineyard at the back that will produce local dolcetto wine.

Surely Bangle must be up to more than making wine in Italy!

To find out, CAR Online caught up with Bangle to find out what he’s been up to since quitting BMW.

‘I’ve been drinkin’ some wine, eatin’ some cheese, catchin’ some rays,’ he says, echoing Kelly’s Heroes. Bangle remains active on the design scene but since he is a ‘silent’ BMW employee until March 2010, he has been unable to do any car-related projects that conflict with his former employer. Instead, he’s been busy lecturing and running workshops around the world, dissecting car design and finding solutions for future mobility.

So far he has rejected approaches by other car companies, feeling that his recent expertise is better suited to working as a consultant. But he does admit: ‘At least that’s what I’ve been approached to do so far.’

Bangle has also been designing products for unnamed clients through Chris Bangle Associates. The ‘associates’ are freelancers. ‘My ideal would be to have interns working here – young designers with fresh ideas.’

What does Bangle think of current car design?

Bangle is critical of this generation of car designers and their fear of challenging ‘brand holiness’, as he calls it. He laments that too many car companies just repeat what’s been done before. ‘You can always argue that the generation before didn’t have the constraints that we have, but that’s crap. The worst thing you can do is to think design is a rolling wheel fixed on a track of inevitability and you can’t move it left or right.’

He goes on to mention the Modulo, created at a time when a consultant like Pininfarina could simply say to Ferrari: this is the next Ferrari. ‘Can you imagine them doing that today? After all, Ferrari is the number one brand behind Coca Cola. Who is going to come up to them and say this is exciting, what do you say to that?’

Full interview continued at CAR Magazine

For those of you interested in learning more about Bangle’s design philosophy, the following series of videos will shed some light.

13 responses to “CAR Magazine interviews Chris Bangle”

  1. AutoCritical says:

    I hope the name ‘Chris Bangle’ although not sounding as cool, will reach to the levels and perhaps, respect of the likes of Pininfarina

  2. Wolfer says:

    Everyone likes to slam Bangle, but I personally like his designs. Innovation is required and Bangle was the one that instigated it. The E60 has aged well, and it’s designs, while radical when it first appeared has aged well. We need people like Bangle to push the envelope.

  3. Brookside says:

    I can definitely understand his determination to remain independent of corporations.
    If he can establish his design studio (and his name) as a brand- something that has cash cache and cultural desirability, then he’s got it made.
    My own feelings are that some other automobile manufacturer will wave a boatload of bucks at him and attempt to sign him up.
    The trouble is that these are different times than the Bangle years heyday at BMW.
    I can’t imagine any car designer today having the kind of authority he had there.
    Good Luck to him no matter what he chooses to do.

  4. Bryce says:

    I like Chris Bangle and I think that he definitely revolutionized car design. However, I think Chris Bangle’s designs had more to do with Chris Bangle’s vision and not BMW’s vision.

  5. Tom says:

    The Germans need to design their own cars and stop using American designers. The Germans invented the car.

  6. Beowolf says:

    Ah yes.. Chris Bangle.. Where so i start..
    I could start by saying how much the E60 design was pig ugly but then im sure E60 fanatics will point out how good some of his designed cars sold.. I have one answer for that.. German Engineering..

    BMW will always sell because you are able to ignore that awful design when you are actually driving the car. Glad BMW toned down bangle’s design on the new F10 5 series.. Back to basics.. Subtle aggression or more like fist in a velvet glove
    Cant wait for F10 M5 in 2011.

  7. Lance says:

    I think the E60 looks better than the current thing. E60 is my fav modern day BMW. It’s so balanced, yet attractive. The front end of the new 5 is a mess, looks like they cut and pasted pieces to make a car – NO FLOW!

  8. XC says:

    I reckon Bangle will be fully understood in the future; his designs where too advanced for this time. Actually his BMW 5 series looks like the evolution of the new 5ver. His cars had idèe, and depth. They were sculptures. But of course you have to know a think or two about art… And why do you think BMW sold so many of his cars? And how’s taking opinions about people who know nothing about design in the first place? People who think Jason Pollock was a short stop of the NY Yankees? Or Picasso a kind of pizza? Whatever…

  9. efoza says:

    I think the greatness of the new GT design is a reminder of how great he was as a design leader. The GT is a great design, a great car and above all a great BMW thanks to him

  10. Horatiu B. says:

    I have to be on his side this time, I believe Bangle influenced so many other automakers and designers. His designs were sometimes ahead of time, but they proved to be the winners, including the controversial 7 Series which eventually sold in record numbers.

    If I were an industrial designer, he would be the one I would look up to.

  11. Joe says:

    Say what you want about Bangle but he brought BMW to new heights combining the Motorrad and Car design departments while also bringing an industry revolution with his perception of art and moving vehicles. Hate him or love him his name is in itself a brand.

  12. Resin8 says:

    If you squint at the current Accord and Camry, you see Bangle inspired design not unlike the E60. I can think of no greater compliment. All the Bangle haters can’t argue with sales numbers, which were quite good with the Bangle designs.

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