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      12-29-2019, 10:52 AM   #1
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Driving UK: BMW Design Chief on Oversized Grilles: 'You Canít Please Everybody'

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https://www.driving.co.uk/news/inter...ase-everybody/

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BMW design chief on oversized grilles: 'You can't please everybody'
'I was a little bit disappointed with BMW's design language when I joined the company'

DOMAGOJ Dukec has a very thick skin, and it’s just as well. Having worked in the BMW design team for nine years, the Frankfurt-born Croat was promoted to head of design in April 2019 and is overseeing a key point in the brand’s aesthetic journey, presenting more cars to fit an ever-increasing number of niches. His take on it could fairly be described as revolution more than evolution, resulting in a somewhat mixed reception from the press and enthusiasts alike.
Driving.co.uk caught up with Dukec at the LA Auto Show to discuss his design roots, his love for all things BMW, and how he feels about the — pretty strong — reaction to the ‘make them big’ approach he’s taken to the company’s famous double kidney grilles. He was also fairly candid about his plans for the Bavarian firm’s future design language. [Responses have been edited for context and clarity]
Driving.co.uk: Before BMW, you did some fascinating things at CitroŽn. Tell us about your past.
Domagoj Dukec: CitroŽn is more than just cars — in terms of car culture, it’s the world. They invented [car brand] publicity. They were the reason the Eiffel Tower is lit up now, because they started it by paying for the word ‘CitroŽn’ to show on the tower, and afterwards it was lit up for good. I never thought to go to France, but I was convinced because I thought, ‘Okay, maybe it’s a good opportunity to create something where BMW would get… interested.’ If you go to BMW or a competitor as a young designer, the brand is already established. BMW at the time was always doing continuation; always evolutions of the cars. It wasn’t until Chris Bangle arrived that I thought, ‘Okay, [now we’re seeing change],’ but then BMW would come and say, ‘No, this is how you have to do it.’
The board of CitroŽn said, ‘CitroŽn must be CitroŽn again.’ Because until then it was just cheap products for the PSA family [the Peugeot-CitroŽn alliance that now includes DS Automobiles, Opel and Vauxhall]. That was a great opportunity and I did a lot of products.
And then BMW came knocking?
DD: Adrian [Van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design] and I always kept in touch. Then, when Kareem [Habib, head of BMW design from 2012 to 2017] quit and Benoit Jacob took over BMW i [the company’s plug-in vehicle sub-brand], BMW was missing a manager. There were two design managers at BMW — for the big cars and the small cars — and they had started to make front-wheel drive cars for the first time. I was just in companies with front-wheel drive… It was not my intention to go to BMW and make front-wheel drive 2-Series Active Tourers but it was a very challenging role at the time, as everybody also at the company saw it as very critical for the future; the possibility of failure with the model was intense. But actually that car started selling better than the 3 Series in Germany, because it fitted certain people who started having children, so they changed their car. We created the 2 Series Active Tourer for those people, in fact — you drive the 3 Series, then have kids. Okay, you could buy a 3 Series Touring [estate], but it’s not as practical. Or they take could buy a [VW] Touran, maybe, or go for a different competitor, and what happens then? The risk is that they don’t come back to BMW.
What did you think of BMW’s design language before you got there?
DD: I was a little bit disappointed, because actually all these companies that aren’t in the premium segment are pushing much harder. Maybe because people never saw life outside the walls [of BMW], they didn’t seem to see what was going on. I said, ‘Hey, guys, outside they are all five years ahead in terms of design.’ It was not the product. The product was great, but in terms of detail quality, it was behind what the French and other competitors were doing.
And so when you arrive, what was it you wanted to change?
DD: Being more brave with all the icons [BMW’s traditional design details] we have. I mean you can see it now in the products, that we play with all the icons. The Hoffmeister [the forward swoop or ‘kink’ at the base of the window on the rearmost pillar of BMWs], for example — until the G30 every 3 Series had almost the same window graphic. That meant that when you saw prototypes — when you saw a new BMW, it could be the previous model if you just looked at the top of the car. This was something I never understood. In all these discussions about our icons, people say, ‘But you can’t change the Hoffmeister, you can’t change the kidneys.’ But who says so? Mr. Hoffmeister just made one window graphic.
You must be aware there’s some criticism, then — particularly of the larger kidney grilles. What do you make of that?
DD: When I came in and became exterior design chief, and was presenting cars I was not responsible for, journalists on media launch events asked me why they looked exactly the same as the previous model. In fact, everything would be new. When we went to the G30 from the F10 [sixth to seventh generation 5 Series], everything — every single piece — was new. Yet everybody said, “Yeah, it’s a nice car to drive, but it looks like the previous one.” On the 7 Series, the G11 was the same thing. Why? The reactions were actually completely contrary to the advances in engineering. Now when you change, people complain, because maybe they got used to the design. But who’s complaining? We know we are selling more and more cars each year. In our strongest markets, like the United States and China, if I talk to the markets, to the dealers, they say we could sell much more: ‘Just give me more incredible stuff.’ We can’t sell average stuff. American customers who want a BMW; they want to express that they drive a BMW. BMW is a very strong brand. It’s the same thing in China. There are [negative] reactions, too, but who can prove who those people are? Are these fans? Are these customers? You just don’t know.
In design, you can never please everybody. I mean, 50% are going to hate it, 50% are going to love it. It’s always like this.
Is this the end of playing it safe at BMW?
DD: Under my leadership for sure.
Article:
https://www.designboom.com/technolog...gn-12-10-2019/

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domagoj dukec interview: how BMW is designing our future of mobility

designboom interviews domagoj dukec as he delves deeper into the design philosophy of BMW, how the brand reinvents itself whilst always respecting its heritage, and how user-centric experiences have shaped their new driving modes, especially in the Vision iNEXT and Vision M NEXT cars.

designboom (DB): firstly, could you introduce yourself and your role at BMW?
domagoj dukec (DD): my name is domagoj dukec and I am the head of BMW design. I was appointed to this role in april 2019 but had been at the company for nine years already. I have been a car designer since 1997 and worked for many other brands beforehand, but I always knew BMW would be the pinnacle for me.
DB: how is BMW looking towards the future?
DD: the BMW Group is once again pioneering into a new era. by embracing innovative technologies, digitalization and sustainability, we are turning these new opportunities into unique mobility experiences for our customers. this ‘transformation’, as we call it, is our commitment to a future that will offer industry-leading standards in terms of mobility.
DB: with technological developments, such as autonomous driving and car sharing, seemingly leading the automotive industry, what role does design play in this future for the brand?
DD: firstly, as cars do become more and more intelligent, it is important for us [BMW and their designers] to alleviate any fears some might have about self-driving, especially as BMW has always represented sheer driving pleasure. we see design as the key to unite all these new technologies in a luxury product like BMW. the first and biggest reason why people buy into our brand is its design, and that will continue to be the case in the future. design is not just the shape of a car; design is about the experience, how it feels to drive, be a passenger and interact with the whole car. with such a diverse product range in our portfolio, we create each model to transport our and the owner’s emotions.
DB: following these changes in the automotive industry right now, will cars – most especially BMWs – still appear familiar?
DD: the object of a car is not changing but the experience is, and that is what BMW is designing for the future. in respect to the BMW brand, heritage and design DNA, the forms of our cars are not radically changing. we are using technology, though, to add new, different emotional experiences to the same shapes, basically maximizing geometric variants.
DB: what are BMW’s EASE and BOOST modes, and what is the importance of offering both options to customers?
DD: we believe in the power of choice; customers should always decide what mobility experience they would like. EASE is all about enriching the moment when you are being driven. the Vision iNEXT concept [debuting in 2018] showcased how our cars can offer your own personal space where you can relax, work, be entertained, chat with others, or simply wonder as the world passes by. BOOST is more familiar to people as it is about driving yourself, but its design still pushes this experience to the max. this is what the Vision M NEXT embodies – it is a sports car that connects human and machine in a highly emotional way.
DB: as the head of design for the BMW Vision M NEXT, how does this concept connect to the brand’s rich history, especially in motor sports and racing?
DD: the Vision M NEXT represents the dream car for BMW and automotive enthusiasts alike. it is a highly emotional and very sporty vision. as such, it references many of our most special and iconic models, such as the BMW turbo, BMW M1 and BMW i8. the Vision M NEXT exemplifies how the future of BMW M – our motor sports sub-brand – might look as an eye-catching electric sports car and offer an experience that is completely focused on the driver.
DB: the Vision M NEXT does showcase many new interpretations of BMW styling though. how have these elements, such as the kidney grille and headlamps, been redesigned?
DD: to start with, the concept has an integrated bumper just like the turbo model [from 1972] – it isn’t visible. the turbo’s side vents have also been reimagined as the sharply-shaped windows on the roof’s angular rear in the Vision M NEXT. however, at the same time, we have explored other new interpretations of our classic design elements. BMW’s iconic kidney grille has been redesigned with a wide yet deep form with a mesh-like covering. on either side, graphically-lined laser wire technology shapes very sporty headlamps for the car. finally, an abrupt curvature forms our latest hofmeister-kink with the small side windows, which actually reveal hidden air-intakes.
DB: how does the neon blocking add further character to the Vision M NEXT’s exterior?
DD: firstly, BMWs have always been a mixture of two elements: dynamism and elegance. this tension is very interesting as it ensures the product is multi-dimensional and unexpected. the Vision M NEXT does not distinguish a transition in its colors, which are blocked in red and silver. these two tones reveal the different souls of the car: the neon red is a nod towards its directness to sheer driving pleasure; silver exemplifies how this is achieved by enhancing electricity as it is a hybrid.
DB: although minimalist in appearance, how is the interior still a highly personal space?
DD: overall, the minimalist environment ensures everything is focused on the driver and the road. however, there are a lot of integrated materials that create a space that still feels personal and very engaging. the whole space is one clean yet undulating surface, which is purposely dark in order to enliven your senses and focus on the road. there are no individual seats and no gaps, just a very inviting seating space made from memory foam. when you sit inside, the first thing the driver sees is the steering wheel with the pulsating BMW logo in the middle. it is a fingerprint sensor so when you press it, the car not only starts but also detects the driver. the intelligent vehicle recognizes you and positions the seat and steering wheel to your ideal setting, as if you were in a proper racing car. it ensures the cabin is perfect for you.
DB: as the interface between the driver and the vehicle, what are the different levels of the BOOST pot?
DD: the three tiers of the BOOST pod allow the VISION M NEXT to adapt to your level of driving and deliver your ultimate driving experience. the first interface is the steering wheel. it features a small display on top, like a roll bar. there are micro joysticks hidden underneath the leather on the back of the wheel, which allow the driver to pre-configure driving modes. the second level consists of a transparent OLED that wraps around the top of the dashboard and is illuminated as soon as you start the trip. it only displays the most important elements of the ride: your heart rate, the RPM, energy level, BOOST mode, and speed. the cluster on the screen is reduced and turns yellow to signify the seriousness as you drive faster. this narrows your focus, as if you were looking through a racing helmet. the final level is only activated when the driver reaches a really fast speed. the OLED is replaced by a heads-up display that communicates your speed and next turn. this ensures the driver never has to look away from the street. as the car slows down, the displays reverse in levels.
DB: how has the Vision M NEXT integrated environmentally-friendly materials into its interior design?
DD: we believe sustainability is important for every car, especially sports models. the BMW Vision M NEXT is even more attractive as we have justified a sports car by making it sustainable. however, it is also important to understand that people are paying BMW for luxury so sustainability cannot just be recycling, it has be to environmentally-conscious materials that match our brand’s DNA. for example, organically-sourced leather is upholstered on very restricted areas of the interior that are usually touched by users, such as the steering wheel and door openers.
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Last edited by BMWGirlFL; 12-31-2019 at 06:42 AM..
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      12-29-2019, 11:26 AM   #2
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I guess we're still pretending that this is forward thinking design and not carefully crafted for a certain communist country.

Everything else is out in the open, cut the crap and just be honest.
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      12-29-2019, 01:59 PM   #3
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Well there is a fairly large segment who just buy BMW for the status symbol, not just in China, but globally. They probably want the enormous kidneys to loudly state they’re driving a BMW - dealer Client Advisor told me they’re selling a lot of X7s. Big grill doesn’t seem to be scaring those buyers away at all.
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      12-29-2019, 03:33 PM   #4
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The nice thing about buying a car is there are many choices. So if he takes BMW in a direction I don't like, there are many other manufacturers to choose from. And it does sound like he is taking BMW in a direction I don't like.
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      12-29-2019, 08:00 PM   #5
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Yeah . Let's go for it..
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      12-29-2019, 08:12 PM   #6
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The new three series is nearly indistinguishable from a Lexus in the rear now. Unless I look for/see the roundel, my brain instantly thinks Lexus. The tail lights just scream Lexus and are such a disappointment.

The horror of the new front ends will not be discussed if those grills wind up on the new M3/4.
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      12-29-2019, 09:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NickyC View Post
The new three series is nearly indistinguishable from a Lexus in the rear now. Unless I look for/see the roundel, my brain instantly thinks Lexus. The tail lights just scream Lexus and are such a disappointment.

The horror of the new front ends will not be discussed if those grills wind up on the new M3/4.
Yep, theyíre IS340iís
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      12-29-2019, 09:47 PM   #8
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The bottom line is that bmw doesn't have a good designer right now. You don't need to put a Weber grill on cars to show the world it is a new bmw.
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      12-29-2019, 10:38 PM   #9
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Feels a bit Chris Bangel again, we hate it but sales might prove us wrong...

Though now I actually do think X7 and LCI 7 grill looks "fitting", only took < 1 year vs I never liked E60 5 series... even today
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      12-30-2019, 06:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Feels a bit Chris Bangel again, we hate it but sales might prove us wrong...

Though now I actually do think X7 and LCI 7 grill looks "fitting", only took < 1 year vs I never liked E60 5 series... even today
Chris Bangle era was one of the best BMW design eras. Unlike this guy; he actually did great integrated design and focused on contours. This guy is going after bling and overstated nonsense. Bangle era stuff wasn't overstated it was subtly angulated and unique. Big big difference

The new BMW designs coming out look simply insecure and shout "look at me! Please!!". Not a good ethos.
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      12-30-2019, 07:13 AM   #11
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E60 M5 still looks modern and sporting today, current 5er just looks large and boring. Bangle knew proportions and surface contours and how to make a good looking car.

Z4 M coupe will also go down as absolute classic of a car.
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      12-30-2019, 09:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The__J__Factor View Post
E60 M5 still looks modern and sporting today, current 5er just looks large and boring. Bangle knew proportions and surface contours and how to make a good looking car.

Z4 M coupe will also go down as absolute classic of a car.
Exactly...everything designed under the Bangle era, except that weird 7-series, has aged remarkably well!! Characterful and well designed cars with classic BMW DNA
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      12-30-2019, 09:46 AM   #13
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Exactly...everything designed under the Bangle era, except that weird 7-series, has aged remarkably well!! Characterful and well designed cars with classic BMW DNA
Itís funny how the vast majority hated bangles designs back then but many have come to appreciate them a decade later
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      12-30-2019, 05:37 PM   #14
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The Grille on THE 7 further increases its status and identity.
It's perfect symmetry with THE X7 to let you know these are the top end of the luxury scale for BMW.
I think it improves the car's appearance.
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      12-30-2019, 09:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Feels a bit Chris Bangel again, we hate it but sales might prove us wrong...

Though now I actually do think X7 and LCI 7 grill looks "fitting", only took < 1 year vs I never liked E60 5 series... even today
Chris Bangle era was one of the best BMW design eras. Unlike this guy; he actually did great integrated design and focused on contours. This guy is going after bling and overstated nonsense. Bangle era stuff wasn't overstated it was subtly angulated and unique. Big big difference

The new BMW designs coming out look simply insecure and shout "look at me! Please!!". Not a good ethos.
Did you like it when it first came out? I hated all except 6 series and 3 series. Took me a looonnng time to get used to it. Yes e60 5 series doesn't look dated today but i still don't like it and when it first came out it was worse than the new M3 grill (I'm actually ok on that one go figure...)
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      12-31-2019, 09:49 AM   #16
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The Grille on THE 7 further increases its status and identity.
It's perfect symmetry with THE X7 to let you know these are the top end of the luxury scale for BMW.
I think it improves the car's appearance.
Increase status and identity? BMW already had those things. I feel overdoing it reduces status and identity...
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      12-31-2019, 10:10 AM   #17
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Increase status and identity? BMW already had those things. I feel overdoing it reduces status and identity...
As the Brits would say...works only for footballers.
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      12-31-2019, 10:35 AM   #18
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Increase status and identity? BMW already had those things. I feel overdoing it reduces status and identity...
Partially agree but also reminds me of when Audi transitioned over to the big front grill over a decade ago and stepped up its luxury status. Now you donít even notice the grill...
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      12-31-2019, 06:40 PM   #19
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Partially agree but also reminds me of when Audi transitioned over to the big front grill over a decade ago and stepped up its luxury status. Now you donít even notice the grill...
I do. To me, it is not just the size of the grill but the dimensions. It just looks garish. If I am going to pay that much money for a car, I want something classy.
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      12-31-2019, 06:59 PM   #20
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I do. To me, it is not just the size of the grill but the dimensions. It just looks garish. If I am going to pay that much money for a car, I want something classy.
FWIW when I said you donít even notice I was referring to Audiís grill.
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      12-31-2019, 06:59 PM   #21
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FWIW when I said you donít even notice I was referring to Audiís grill.
I know you were. So was I. The size of the Audi grills is very obvious to me.
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      12-31-2019, 06:59 PM   #22
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I know you were. So was I. The size of the Audi grills is very obvious to me.
But Audi sale doesn't seem to suffer because of it, i mean all the ultimate test would be does it sell...
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