As announced this morning, Chris Bangle has left BMW. The controversial but highly influential designer has "relinquished his position as BMW Group Head of Design effective immediately". The stated reason for his departure is to "pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry," according to BMW sources.
Bangle found prominence and notoriety with the introduction of the E65 7-Series in 2002. It marked a drastic departure from BMW's traditional design language and caused enormous controversy. However, the car went on to set record sales numbers. Furthermore, his subsequent input on the styling of BMW's Z and X models, as well as the 6- and 1-Series have also seen sales success.The number of "Bangle-style" creations that have emerged from competitor manufacturers is perhaps another sign of his influence.
The position of BMW Group's Head of Design will be passed to Adrian van Hooydonk, who is currently Head of BMW Automobile Design. "Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group's brands. His contribution to the company's success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future," said Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW AG's Board Member for Development. He also went on to claim van Hooydonk shares Bangle's fascination for technology and aesthetics, tradition and innovation.
Born in the USA, 52 year-old Chris Bangle studied at the University of Wisconsin and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena before he began his working life in Rsselsheim, where he worked for Opel AG. In '85 he joined Fiat, where he became Director of the Fiat Centro Stile in 1992. Later that same year he was appointed Head of BMW Group Design Development in October '92.
Throughout his career with the BMW, van Hooydonk has worked alongside Bangle. He described van Hooydonk as "truly a top professional in our business." Adrian van Hooydonk, 44, will be responsible for design development for the BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini brands. Born in the Netherlands, van Hooydonk studied at Delft Polytechnic University in Holland and later at the Art Center Europe in Vevey, Switzerland, until 1992. From there he came to Munich, where he joined BMW as a designer. In 2000 he went to California to work for the BMW Group subsidiary Designworks USA, where he was Director from 2001-04. Then, under Bangle he became Head of the Brand Design Studio for BMW Automobiles.
The BMW 6- and 7-Series bear the hallmark of van Hooydonk's design influence, as do the Z9 Concept Car, Concept CS and M1 Hommage Study. In 1997 van Hooydonk created the ACV 30 Show Car for Mini and more recently developed designs for the new BMW 7-Series and Z4, as well as for the Concept Progressive Activity Sedan, which will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March.
"I am honoured and extremely excited to take on this new responsibility", says van Hooydonk. "BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce produce the best cars and motorcycles in their segment, and I am really looking forward to being able to contribute to the future development of these brands."