Chris Bangle

Chris Bangle
Chris Bangle
Born Christopher Edward Bangle
October 14, 1956 (1956-10-14) (age 55)
Ravenna, Ohio
Nationality American
Occupation Automobile designer

Christopher Edward "Chris" Bangle (born October 14, 1956) is an American automobile designer. Bangle is known best for his work as Chief of Design for BMW Group, where he was responsible for the BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce motor cars.

Contents

Biography

Bangle was born in Ravenna, Ohio, and raised in Wausau, Wisconsin. After considering becoming a Methodist minister,[1] Bangle attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, earning a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master's degree in Industrial Design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.[2]

Opel

Bangle started his career at Opel in Germany, where he worked from 1981 until 1985. The first work that he designed is the interior of the Junior concept car.

Fiat

He later moved to Fiat in Italy and worked as a chief designer of the Fiat Coupe.

BMW

He became the first American chief of design of BMW on October 1, 1992, where he designed the Z9 Gran Turismo concept car. His styling themes have generated intense controversy among automotive designers, and have had a polarizing effect with respect to their visual cues.

On February 3, 2009, Bangle announced that he was to quit both his position at BMW and the auto industry altogether, to focus on his own design-related endeavours.[3] He was replaced by Adrian van Hooydonk.[4][5] Bangle now works for his own firm called Chris Bangle Associates based in Turin, Italy. [6]

Design philosophy

Bangle's designs are incorporated in the entire BMW lineup, including the 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 series as well as the X3, X5, and X6 the newest design SUVs, and the concept car Gina. These span the automotive platforms E81 / E82 / E87 / E88, E90 / E91 / E92 / E93, E60 / E61, E63 / E64, E65 / E66 and E53. Bangle himself did not (as is commonly believed) coin the phrase "flame surfacing" to describe his work; this can be attributed to a motoring journalist, and is probably the first time Deconstructivism has been adapted to automotive design. The reason for this design was to use BMW's new technology of 3D panel pressing allowing a single press for compound curves, which had previously needed multiple pressings unless the panel was shaped by hand. This is further evidenced by the fact that Bangle has often pointed out architect Frank Gehry's work as a major influence.

The most controversial of his work was the E65 7 Series, a sharp contrast to the preceding E38 generation which was conservatively styled. Time magazine named it as one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time for its rear end styling and iDrive functionality, nonetheless it became the best-selling 7 Series of all time.[7][8]

During the Bangle era, BMW overtook Mercedes as the global leader in premium car sales.

Bangle aggressively defended his designs against criticism. He was supported by the BMW board of directors, who wanted to move BMW's image into the future.[7] He said it was necessary for product lines to follow a cycle of a revolutionary generation followed by an evolutionary generation followed by another revolutionary generation and so on. Indeed, he oversaw the conservative evolution of BMW designs with the redesign of the BMW 3-Series BMW E46 and the introduction of the BMW X5. For Bangle this marked the end of the evolution of BMW design and the revolution was witnessed with the 2002 introduction of the BMW E65. Bangle acknowledges that his designs do not look good in photographs, suggesting to critics that they should see the cars in real life before judging them on their looks. He introduced a new BMW concept car, called GINA on June 10, 2008.

Peer comments

  • J Mays, Ford's chief creative officer, dislikes Bangle's designs, but admits Bangle has been significant in reshaping modern cars.[1]
  • Marc Newson, an industrial designer and car enthusiast, described Bangle's BMW Z4 as having been designed with a machete.[9]
  • Patrick le Quément, chief designer at Renault, said: "[Bangle is] certainly the most talked about designer. His designs have a great deal of presence, and they're well proportioned. He's been highly influential. My only concern is his use of concave surfaces: they're hollow shapes and lack that tightly muscled look I feel helps design."[1]
  • Martin Smith, head of design for Ford of Europe, describes Bangle as an instigator of the trend toward "surface entertainment" in cars; the Ford Iosis bears some resemblance to Bangle-styled BMWs but it was not criticized as much as Bangle's designs.[1]
  • Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW AG's Board Member for Development, said: "Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group's brands. His contribution to the company's success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future,"[10]

References

Further reading

  • Alfieri, Bruno (2000). Chris Bangle: BMW Global Design. Automobilia. ISBN 8879601121. 

External links


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