Outstanding!! Chris Bangle Quits BMW - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Outstanding!! Chris Bangle Quits BMW

Controversial BMW Designer Chris Bangle Quits | Autopia from Wired.com

Chris Bangle, who as head of design for BMW became one of the most famous — and reviled — auto designers in automotive history, has abruptly resigned after 16 years with the German automaker. Few will mourn his departure. Fewer still will deny his impact on auto design.

The 52-year-old American was so widely loathed by auto enthusiasts in general — and BMW fanatics in particular — for his styling tastes that he was the target of several online petitions demanding that BMW fire him. His worst critics cannot forgive him for his makeover of the 7-Series sedan, which featured a pronounced trunk that came to be known derisively as the "Bangle Butt."

But it never seemed Bangle gave a damn what people thought, and in the end, he left of his own accord "to pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry," BMW said in a statement. He's gone, but don't think that means BMW is headed in a new direction, designwise.

Chriis_bangle_01_2 "Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group's brands," Dr. Klaus Draeger, a member of BMW's board of development, said in a statement. "His contribution to the company's success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route to the future."

That team included Bangle's right-hand man, Adrian van Hooydonk — who will take over as head of design.

Although Bangle was named head of design for BMW Group in 1992, he didn't gain infamy until 2001 when he unveiled the new 7-Series sedan (pictured below) at the Frankfurt auto show. When we first saw the back end of the car, with its ungainly trunk lid, we were reminded of Sergio Pininfarina's response to the Triumph TR7 when he saw it unveiled at the Detroit auto show. Walking from one side of the car to the other, he said of the swooping character line along its flank, "Oh no, they did it on this side, too!"

The same kind of response met Bangle when people saw the 7's trunk, which to this day remains known as a "Bangle Butt." Time magazine named the 7 one of the 50 worst cars of all time. Since then, auto enthusiasts have taken to using terms like “hit with the Bangle stick” to describe especially ugly cars.

We've never warmed to the 7, but in Bangle's defense, it must be said that van Hooydonk was equally responsible for the car's ample ass. And the two of them were up against some heavy design parameters.

First, they had to deal with what were new Euro-spec rear-crash protection standards, which were tougher than ever before. True, other automakers seemed to do a pretty good job meeting them — Gordon Murray did a beautiful job with the McLaren F1, for example. But Bangle also had to deal with something tougher than a bunch of European bureaucrats — aerodynamics. It's a sad fact of nature that if you want to cut wind resistance, keeping your vehicle low in the front and high in the back is a good rule of thumb.

So, faced with needing a sturdier, higher rear end, Bangle did what he did. True, the back end of the 7 lacked a certain elegance, but Bangle was in a tough spot. As Dan Neil notes in the L.A. Times, many people think auto design is all about flowing lines and pretty shapes. The reality is there are about a million things that must be considered, and compromises are inevitable.

Not that Bangle was one to compromise. He made no bones about shaking things up, and in fact made it a point of pride, at one point telling David Riley of Business Week, "We aren't copying anyone else's design language, not even our own, and I think that makes some people uncomfortable."

Bangle’s design language could be described as "quirky" and "individualistic" if you’re feeling charitable. His work on the Z4 — a style he called "flame surfacing" — divided all viewers. Industrial designer and car enthusiast Marc Newson said the car looked like it was designed with a machete. As for the monolithic, slablike Rolls Royce that Bangle penned, the less said, the better. He almost redeemed himself with the Mini, which perfectly updates the iconic original, and we give him full credit for GINA, the shape-shifting cloth-covered concept car that shatters every illusion of what a car can be.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Bangle's work, his place is automotive history is assured. "Love or loathe his work," Motor Trend wrote in an interview with Bangle, "no other designer, not even legendary GM design chief Harley Earl, has so rapidly become a part of the industry lexicon. To 'bangle' a design is now an auto-industry verb for ruining it. Auto writers use 'Bangle butt' to describe a tail with an extra layer of metal on the trunk. Bangle, some auto industry rivals remind you, is only one letter away from 'bungle.'"

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 12:31 AM
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it will be interesting to see the direction they eventually go in...



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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 12:38 AM
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 06:10 AM
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 06:31 AM
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-04-2009, 06:34 AM
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