Chris Bangle On Current Car Design: "Real Need For A Change"

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff

Designer Chris Bangle, who was strongly identified with BMW’s brand image and some controversial styling decisions before leaving the company four years ago to open up an independent design studio, says that today’s car designers are doing the same things over and over again, something he calls “mannerism”. In and interview with Automotive News Europe, Bangle said, “There is a real need for a change and that’s just not happening.”

Designers talk about innovation, but don’t really innovate, Bangle opined. “Even concept cars today simply anticipate the next production model coming down the line. Is this innovation? No. And at the end of the day this is what’s preventing car design from moving into a new era.”

When asked if he considered returning to run an automaker’s studio, Bangle confirmed that he’d been offered jobs but insists that he’s not interested at this point in his life, though he said that he loved his time with BMW. “Designing cars consumes you; it has a hold on your spirit which is incredibly powerful. It’s not something you can do part time, you have do it with all your heart and soul or you’re going to get it wrong. You have to know when to leave the party.”

Note: The video above is of a presentation Chris Bangle made last November to Stanford University’s Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS), wherein he discusses some of the same issues.

TTAC Staff
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  • Romanjetfighter Romanjetfighter on Sep 03, 2013

    I love the Stanford podcasts. Stanford is so cool. I wish I went to Stanford. I can't stop saying Stanford. Greg Walton is awesome.

  • FractureCritical FractureCritical on Sep 03, 2013

    I have no love for Bangle, but I do wish him well designing golf shirts or table lamps or possibly even an a line of trendy umbrellas, but he has no place touching a car. I'm sure he's been approached by various prestigious car companies who want to hire him to perhaps trim the hedges on the corporate campus or maybe empty recycle bins. I can't imagine any reasonable person would ask him to design a car.

  • Thornmark Thornmark on Sep 03, 2013

    Sorta OT, but related to styling: For years many maintained the fiction that the original Taurus was an original, it was not. On Autoline, Bob Lutz - he was there - admits that Ford cribbed the Taurus from Audi: btw, the design segments on Autoline are fun and informative.

    • See 1 previous
    • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Sep 03, 2013

      @rockit Sure it's relevant. Designers cribbing from each other helps produce the sameness of design that Bangle is talking about. Of course, cribbing is an all-American auto industry habit: Look at the front end of a 1952 Lincoln Capri, and compare to the front end of a 1957 Pontiac chief.

  • 3Deuce27 3Deuce27 on Sep 04, 2013

    Excellent lecture. Most naysayers are not designers or are jealous. Chris didn't design the 'Bangle Butt', and nobody has had the effect on modern product design, like Chris. Everything from cars to toasters reflect his contributions to modern design.