Saw this cool interview off Motor Trend: http://wot.motortrend.com/behind-the...#axzz2Gkz3JooX
Behind the Design: We Talk with the BMW 4 Series Coupe Concept’s Headlight/Taillight Designer
From the Nissan Sentra to the BMW 4 Series Coupe concept, LED lighting accents are everywhere, but few car designs are tied so closely to headlights as modern BMWs. At a recent event in Munich, we spoke with Hussein Al-Attar, the BMW designer in charge of the BMW 4 Series Coupe concept’s headlights and taillights, about what inspires him and the challenges he faced during the design process, which went from idea to reality in just a few months.
“There’s so much work that goes into [headlight/taillight design]. I think people don’t even recognize that there are designers only working on these details,” said Al-Attar, who participated in the 2004 Motor Trend/CIAS International Design Contest. “It’s a very complex object. It’s a very exciting process, what we’re doing.”
The BMW 4 Series Coupe concept debuts at the 2013 Detroit auto show and previews the production car we’ve spied before and expect to see later in 2013. With headlight and taillight design accents becoming an increasingly important design feature distinguishing one brand from another, BMW faces far more competition with “night design” elements than it did in 1999, when the refreshed 5 Series debuted with corona rings that set it apart from other premium sports sedans.
Today, BMWs have a kidney grille, Hofmeister kink, and L-shaped taillights, but those design details aren’t always visible at night. “[LED lighting] is something that shows you that it’s a BMW even if you can’t see the car,” Al-Attar says.
And while some still refer to such headlight and taillight accents as “light pollution,” Al-Attar appreciates the BMW-specific styling features. “This makes our job easier in the sense that we don’t have to go over the top but also difficult in keeping this heritage, and evolving it with design and technology.”
The BMW 4 Series Coupe concept uses basically the same LED lighting technology found on the 6 Series lineup, but moves from rounded lines to an open hexagon. Al-Attar notes that connecting the light-emitting element to the grille — which is completely closed, by the way — is a new touch. It looks better in person than the LEDs on the current 3 Series sedan and is likely to be retained for the production BMW 4 Series coupe.
“We had a very clear picture in mind from the beginning,” Al-Attar says about designing the 4 Series Coupe concept’s lights. “At the end it was really fine-tuning and talking about where to put the line” connecting the lights to the grille, a few millimeters higher or lower.
The inspiration for the BMW 4 Series Coupe concept’s revised LED accents in the subtly upswept taillights didn’t come just from the automotive world.
“If you look at the dynamic of graffiti lettering or in calligraphy, you can see that the thickness within the same letter is different and this gives it a very dynamic, very emotional appearance and this is what we tried here,” Al-Attar said. “With LED technology, we have the possibility to be very three-dimensional.”
Until the 3 Series sedan gets refreshed and potentially adopts 4 Series coupe design cues, the showroom-ready variant of the BMW coupe concept seen here could continue to serve as a success story for the automaker. Of course, that depends on the 4 Series’ price and how many of the concept’s design details make it onto the production car.