Thread: Chris Bangle
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Old 03-24-2006, 12:06 PM   #11
Duke W
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Delawhere?
Posts: 151
My Ride: 2003 325i ZSP 5MT
I agree with the fundamental assessment that the new BMW designs weren't necessarily meant to be good... just dramatic and new. That was the assignment from management and on that level they succeed.

They also succeed since the sales figures keep going up. So all the hatred is moot.

But I will say that on an aesthetic-only level, purely outside the realm of tradition and function, they have some issues that keep them from suceeding. There isn't any stylistic improvement. There's just change for its own sake.

I design things for a living. I understand the process a little. Many of today's cars bear the marks of being translated directly from concept sketch to finished product, with no refinement and development in the details. Mistubishi's cars - the Evo being a conspicuous exception - bear this effect the worst. It's like the first thing they threw on paper is what they ran with, and it shows.

Bangle's designs aren't quite that way, but almost. When you're an architect, you can look at certain buildings and imagine exactly what the rendering looked like that they used to sell the client on the design. You can picture the sketchy happy families walking towards their not-quite-identifiable generic sedan or SUV, and the flags waving in the background, and warm fuzzy markers they used to color it. You kind of automatically imagine the green lollipop trees and the weird blobby blue sky with the random lines through it.

That's what Bangle's designs are like for cars. You can instantly picture the concept sketches he presented to Board of Directors: oversized wheels with a thin strip of rubber around, zero suspension travel, a sort of sky-blue-to-pale-yellow fade down the sides so they look like the body is solid chrome, dark windows, a lot of odd, swoopy action lines slashed across it in a black felt tip to make it look jazzy and fast, and some odd sketchy things at each corner to suggest the lights (really just there to visually anchor the edges of the drawing, but it turns out you need something there anyway, lucky Chris).

The difference between the new Mitsus and the new BMWs is that Bangle has a whole bag full of little ultra-cool detail ideas that he's in love with, and has spent too many sleepless nights picturing in his own head, and overdesigning while he waits for somebody to sell them to. And now that he's found a buyer, he's going to dump as many of them onto the cars as he can while he has the chance.

But the basic proportions of the cars are just mediocre at best. Look at the clunky roofline on that 5. There's no fundamental, organizing theme. It's the "decorated shed" school of building design, applied to cars.

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