If you’re well-versed in BMW’s history, the name “Chris Bangle” is certainly one you’re aware of. For better or worse, Bangle is well known by almost all BMW fans. He’s the man most famously responsible for leading the design on the E60-generation BMW 5 Series, quite possibly the worst looking 5er ever. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Bangle’s design language was not boring.
Apparently, though, Bangle is disappointed with the current state of automotive design, claiming it to be boring, specifically among German manufacturers.
During an interview with Auto News at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Bangle recently said of a German car company’s display “It’s a wonderful stand, it has a wonderful amount of technology they are showing,” said Bangle. “But as a designer I am used to a set of uniqueness and freshness and change. This will turn into a critique of [insert brand name] and I really don’t want it to be published like that, but for the life of me I can’t find a new idea. They have really good designers, but I’ve seen this all before in other places.”
He was speaking about a German car company, one of his former competitors while at BMW, but his criticisms are aimed at the industry itself. “Companies like that are getting so good at putting a sheen on what you already know that they’ll convince everybody that it’s new. And the young designers don’t know their own history. There is very little understanding where the past came from for car designers today because they are worried so much about just learning the tools. They’re being asked to do little more than just ‘ give me a little twist on what we just did.’ ”
Bangle seems to feel that car companies are too afraid to take risks, so as to not hurt sales. And it’s hard to argue with him on that, especially in the German auto industry, as most automakers seem to be very conservative with their design languages as of late.
“If it’s left up to these hyper-conservative, hyper-terrified companies that are so huge, and where everything is resting on a bottom line that could go south at any minute…well, these are the last people to ask for the courage to go forward into the future. The LAST people.”
He makes quite a colorful analogy about conservative designs not leading to any good cars in the future. “They defend their brands like the virtue of Guinevere and they are doing it by putting a chastity belt around the girl and, sorry, that’s not how you make kids. That’s not how you make a future.”
Bangle’s concerns are pretty well-founded, as this may be one of the most boring eras, in terms of car design. Which is disappointing, because it’s one of the most exciting eras, in terms of performance and luxury. While Bangle’s designs were ahead of their time and controversial, they certainly weren’t boring.
If you find Bangle’s work to be tasteful and attractive, you’re in luck. As it turns out, a start up electric car company has hired Bangle to create its design language. “I can’t tell you really anything about it. It’s an existing company that comes from a manufacturing point of view – not an automaker. They understand hardware and electric vehicles very well, but they’ve never forayed into the automotive world. They came to us a couple of years ago and said, ‘we want to do a small car,’ and I said, ‘ why don’t you go up the street. Pininfarina is up the street. They’d love to do that for you’ and these guys said, ‘No we want to do it with you.” Apple, is that you?[Source: Car Scoops]