Designworks has been a wholly owned BMW Group subsidiary since 1995 but the two companies first teamed up in 1986 for a conceptual seat design tailored to the 8 Series Coupe E31. In 1993, it commenced work on the E46’s exterior styling and was also directly involved in the design process of the original X model, the X5 E53. Cars such as the i3 and i8 concepts, the Z4 and Z8 roadsters, virtually all SUVs models, and the more recent M Hybrid V8 have benefitted from their expertise.
After marking its 50th anniversary in October 2022, Designworks has another reason to celebrate. It has opened a new studio in Santa Monica, California. It covers an area of approximately 16,500 square feet, thus making it bigger than the studios in Munich and Shanghai. Speaking at the inauguration of the new facility, Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Design said: “Designworks will generate valuable impetus, inspiration, and new ideas for the design of the BMW Group brands right here.”
Although Designworks is considered to be BMW Group’s very own creative think tank, it is involved in external projects. From airplane seats to flying taxis, their expertise expands well beyond the automotive realm. It’s been working with John Deere for decades and has also designed products for the USOC Paralympic teams.
Their most recent work involved developing a special app to complement the color-changing i Vision Dee concept unveiled last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It allows users to customize the Neue Klasse-based fully electric sedan on their smartphone in any color or pattern before projecting it virtually onto any background.
We would be remiss to not mention Designworks’ involvement in the Vision M Next, a conceptual sports car with an electrified powertrain that sadly did not live to see the light of production day due to high costs.