Getting an interview with Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group Chief Designer, can be a challenging task and one hard to accomplish, but over the years, the charismatic Dutchman has become fond of BMWBLOG and granted us several interviews. Weeks before the interview, we go through an intensive brainstorming session in which we try to come up with some interesting questions to challenge the man in charge of all BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce design. And as one could guess, the task is is not easy.
While most of the interviews we’ve seen with Van Hooydonk focus quite a bit on future products (a big no-no with the BMW communications department), we always take a different road and focus on the design philosophy at BMW, future design trends – either automotive or industrial – and more recently, on the future of mobility and digital connectivity in cars.
At the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, we spent nearly 30 minutes with van Hooydonk talking about a wide range of subjects which turned into a 7 minutes long video.
One very hot topic within BMW Group is car intelligence and how does that translate into design and engineering. “I think the cars will become more intelligent, they will continue to do what our customers want them to do,” van Hooydonk says. “The customer wants to enjoy the drive, typical for people that buy our products and our engineers and design team will make sure that clever technology works together to offer a very, very good driving experience.”
Internet connectivity has been part of BMW cars for quite some time, but van Hooydonk believes it will play an even bigger role in the future. “This also represents some design challenges, if you have information coming in, how do you display it, how do you operate it,” van Hooydonk tells us. “The new 7 Series offers some answers, we have the head-up display […], then you are able to operate the vehicle by touch or by gesture, which shows we are working quite hard to make that information manageable.”
We also talked about the challenges BMW has encountered over the years and especially those challenges he has met in his 23 years tenure at BMW, and new ones coming up. “Sometimes incorporating a new brand and giving that [brand] a fresh look, like MINI or Rolls Royce, sometimes a challenge was to invent a new car in a segment that BMW was not before, like the X5 or X6,” van Hooydonk shares with us. “The next challenge we are already working on will be this digital connectivity that probably everyone will expect one day from their car and us, as a design team, should give that a meaningful shape and make it in such a way that it’s really enjoyable for the customer.”
Is the i8 still hot? Van Hooydonk believes so, in the end, that’s his daily driver who attracts a lot of people around it. “The design of the i3 and i8 has moved the goal box for us, for BMW,” van Hooydonk says proudly. “Since we have those cars, people probably expect a lot more from us that it’s futuristic.”
The full interview can be seen below.