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      03-20-2014, 01:38 PM   #1
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C/D Interview x Chris Bangle: Retrospective Thoughts

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C/D: You quit BMW in 2009. Any regrets?

CB: Seventeen years in that job is a long time—three generations of most models. For this next phase, my wife and I started a design company in Italy. But, in truth, every design is a car design. There just aren’t the old clay models around.

C/D: You once said your cars don’t look good in photos. Why?

CB: If, for instance, you’d never seen a Porsche 911, then suddenly saw only a side view of the car, well, it suffers—one of the most unusually proportioned vehicles ever. For complex cars, you need to take that “memory walk” 360 degrees around the car, and then you see how the different themes are connected.

C/D: Who most influenced you?

CB: Giorgetto Giugiaro was a designer’s designer, pushing the relationship between form and function, always respecting manufacturing processes— the VW Golf, for example. Then there’s Marcello Gandini, who could design an abstract supercar as an ultimate statement—take the Countach, for instance.

C/D: Who are your clients nowadays?

CB: Lots of different companies. Hennessy came to me to do a new V.S.O.P. cognac bottle, an iconic form that hadn’t been touched in a long time. You’d better not screw it up! It reminded me of designing the Mini. And I’m the master designer for Samsung. I’ll leave it at that.

C/D: As China’s car market grows, will its styling preferences begin to outweigh Western preferences?

CB: The Chinese span the spectrum of design, from mega-boring to wacky beyond belief. They’ll attach wings to the back of a Smart! But what they like best is to have a brand’s respectability, and to do that, you have to have a palatable consistency. I think they’re missing a chance to create an aesthetic that is uniquely Chinese, their own look.

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C/D: Do you own a copy of each car you designed?

CB: No. What’s in my garage is boxes. But I do own a BMW X6, and my wife drives an X3. And somewhere I’ve got a Fiat Topolino and some scooters.

C/D: You describe current car design as “mannerism.” What do you mean?

CB: It’s a term used by architects, when they take their own imagery, symbols, and designs and play with them and exaggerate them and repeat them as if they’re the only ones who are getting the joke.

C/D: Is anyone being original?

CB: A few. The guys at Citroën.

C/D: Is the anything-goes concept car dead?

CB: No, there are a few things they sometimes pull out of the hat. But the premises are still the same. They’re not trying to change people’s idea of mobility, not trying to rethink the whole aesthetic of the vehicle. There’s always a greenhouse as a predefined area and the same arrangement of the seats. The great concept car is still waiting to be made.

C/D: Do you still sketch cars for fun?

CB: I sketch cars all the time. I try to understand the mental processes at work when you change things. I found a late-1700s coach design, done in paper in France. The surface changes on it are phenomenal: a tumblehome as powerful as the Pyramids, then it reverses so it’s wider at the top than the bottom. Show me a vehicle today that has those cojones.

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C/D: Your 7-series, launched in 2001, engendered the “Bangle Butt” label. When the car sold so well, did the sniping end?

CB: People now say, “Hey, you were right after all,” so that’s gratifying. But that story is old. I’ll leave my butt where it is.

C/D: Is it possible there are iconic car designs yet to be created?

CB: Not impossible at all. “A culture is measured by the questions it asks.” That’s a quote from a frustrated physicist whose project got canceled. You can measure car designers the same way: “What questions are you asking?” When Oscar Wilde first saw Niagara Falls, he said, “It would be more impressive if it flowed the other way.”

C/D: Does the DeltaWing interest you?

CB: Well, it’s less the shape that intrigued me and more the idea that someone revived the Reliant Robin.

C/D: Anything you’d have done differently in your life?

CB: Maybe become trilingual? Or be like my aunt, who can play the accordion upside down on a card table? I should have started my sketchbooks earlier, sooner than 1977. If there’s gonna be a test after life, it’s nice to have taken notes.

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      03-20-2014, 01:55 PM   #2
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Go Chris!
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      03-20-2014, 02:05 PM   #3
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Cool read, thanks for posting. The Bangle-led cars were certainly polarizing; I happened to be someone that loved all of them. He certainly revolutionized car design inside and out. I think he'll go down in history as one of the greats.
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      03-31-2014, 07:15 AM   #4
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He got way more hate than he deserved, his designs were really underrated. Seeing his E65 in a magazine as a kid is what got me hooked on BMW for life too!
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      03-31-2014, 07:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle B
Cool read, thanks for posting. The Bangle-led cars were certainly polarizing; I happened to be someone that loved all of them. He certainly revolutionized car design inside and out. I think he'll go down in history as one of the greats.
Well said and I totally agree.. Those cars put BMW in the position it's in now...
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      03-31-2014, 07:54 AM   #6
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I always love Chris designs, they where more complex and risky, and in my perspective they all look great.
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      03-31-2014, 08:11 AM   #7
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That's one brave guy being the butt of so many cars................
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      03-31-2014, 08:18 AM   #8
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One of the very few designers whose name ever made it into the collective car culture consciousness, and one of few who ever will. In fact outside of the long-dead founders of some of the Italian coachbuilders, I bet most can't name any, I certainly can't.
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      03-31-2014, 08:20 AM   #9
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Most of his car designs were really great. Certainly fresh and always something unique. My only gripe was the E60 - 5 series, never was too crazy about that design.
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      03-31-2014, 08:44 AM   #10
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At first I thought the E60 went too far beyond BMW and stole ideas from Honda and Alfa. But then it aged and it looks better to me today than it did 10 years ago. I think the zeitgeist of the moment corporate design languages age much less gracefully than the individual designs Bangle brought to each line. But he was also the last one to have only the cores of the product line to deal with. With the pie being both expanded and sliced thinner i get why BMW has adopted a more Audi-like "one look in many sizes" idea. But I don't think it's better design

The new 2er coupe is an exception for me. I think it is one of the few f-cars that is instantly recognizable from a distance
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      03-31-2014, 08:53 AM   #11
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Cool read for sure
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      03-31-2014, 08:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richbot View Post
At first I thought the E60 went too far beyond BMW and stole ideas from Honda and Alfa. But then it aged and it looks better to me today than it did 10 years ago. I think the zeitgeist of the moment corporate design languages age much less gracefully than the individual designs Bangle brought to each line. But he was also the last one to have only the cores of the product line to deal with. With the pie being both expanded and sliced thinner i get why BMW has adopted a more Audi-like "one look in many sizes" idea. But I don't think it's better design

The new 2er coupe is an exception for me. I think it is one of the few f-cars that is instantly recognizable from a distance
That's one thing I always liked about CB's cars; each one had it's own unique design features. Each car was very different compared to the others in the lineup.

I also agree with your thoughts on the E60. The F10 is a snooze-fest compared to its predecessor.
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      03-31-2014, 09:07 AM   #13
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I've had to wear the ole flame suit many a times over the years on the forum here, while defending certain Bangle-designed cars.
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      03-31-2014, 09:30 AM   #14
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Purchased 3 BMWs designed by CB (E65 7 series, E85 Z4, E82 1M). Nothing in the current lineup excites me. Now when I see a 5 or 7, I don't know what it is until I see the designation on the trunk.
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      03-31-2014, 09:50 AM   #15
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Really good read. Designs were cutting edge and not to everyones tatse but what a legacy
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      03-31-2014, 09:51 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 671rover View Post
Purchased 3 BMWs designed by CB (E65 7 series, E85 Z4, E82 1M). Nothing in the current lineup excites me. Now when I see a 5 or 7, I don't know what it is until I see the designation on the trunk.
I like the new 5 better then the E60 (although I loved the rear of the E60 just could not get over the front lights).

That being said I miss the old E65 I like that design so much better then the new 7. The new one is nice, but its very boring.

The only car that I love right now of the new cars are the 6 Gran Coupe and 6 coupe. I did really like the previous generation 6, butt and all before.
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      03-31-2014, 10:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richbot
At first I thought the E60 went too far beyond BMW and stole ideas from Honda and Alfa. But then it aged and it looks better to me today than it did 10 years ago. I think the zeitgeist of the moment corporate design languages age much less gracefully than the individual designs Bangle brought to each line. But he was also the last one to have only the cores of the product line to deal with. With the pie being both expanded and sliced thinner i get why BMW has adopted a more Audi-like "one look in many sizes" idea. But I don't think it's better design

The new 2er coupe is an exception for me. I think it is one of the few f-cars that is instantly recognizable from a distance
Couldnt agree more, except that i liked the E60 when it was introduced and still like it alot..

CB's designs really were unique..you could easily tell them apart in a crowd of cars..and even from other BMs.
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      03-31-2014, 10:21 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Richbot View Post
At first I thought the E60 went too far beyond BMW and stole ideas from Honda and Alfa. But then it aged and it looks better to me today than it did 10 years ago. I think the zeitgeist of the moment corporate design languages age much less gracefully than the individual designs Bangle brought to each line. But he was also the last one to have only the cores of the product line to deal with. With the pie being both expanded and sliced thinner i get why BMW has adopted a more Audi-like "one look in many sizes" idea. But I don't think it's better design

The new 2er coupe is an exception for me. I think it is one of the few f-cars that is instantly recognizable from a distance
To me the e60 has aged terribly, and so has the e63 and e65.
If you take the e60's front, it's got these "dragon eyelashes", and the backside is chopped (especially looking at it from the side view).
If you take a look at the e63's front, it has a look of a droopy eyed anteater. And the back side...that backside, the trunk looks misplaced, with a ton of empty space. And if you look at the e65 vs the timeless design of the e38...the e65 has the face of a bloated clown, and again...that backside.
All in all, it seems that the designs were forced---like a uncool kid trying to be cool. Abstract design to just be abstract.
Oddly, the e60 M5 and the e63 M6 are leaps and bounds more aggressive looking than the F10 M5 and the F12 M6, but not as cohesive and pretty as them or as slick, elegant and as timeless as the e39 M5.
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      03-31-2014, 10:38 AM   #19
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Thumbs up Chris Bangle...

Chris Bangle really deserves a lot of credit for helping BMW surpass MB in sales. He was responsible for creating a lot of great car designs while at BMW. Time has proven how classic his designs were.

I think the GINA concept car( with its fabric body skin) was mind altering!

BMW GINA Light Visionary Model...
http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=520984



When I was visiting the Museo dell'automobile, in Turin - they had a nice display honoring many great automotive designers. Among some of the items was CB's sketches and that flexible fabric skin from the Gina concept....


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We tour the National Auto Museum of Turin, Italy...
http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showt...php?p=15653331
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      03-31-2014, 10:43 AM   #20
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I thank him profusely for the E46 and E92.
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      03-31-2014, 10:56 AM   #21
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thank you for the E82, Mr. Bangle! Yes it polarizes people but i just LOVE it. Angular, aggressive, and unique.
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      03-31-2014, 11:09 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brio View Post
Most of his car designs were really great. Certainly fresh and always something unique. My only gripe was the E60 - 5 series, never was too crazy about that design.
…..

I drove a 535i Mtech package for a while. Got more looks in that than my M.

Was GORGEOUS
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