In talk with Chris Bangle

Chris Bangle has kept a rather low profile since he abruptly left his position at BMW where he became one of the world’s most influential car designers. He has given few interviews since, but we caught up with the controversial designer at his self-built house and consultancy outside Turin to see what he has been up to since departing from the Bavarian marque last March.

Bangle does not shy sway from the truth. He knows that he has set a pretty unbeatable standard to which current car designers, especially those working in the luxury sector, have to stick to. And rightfully or not he feels that he can critique the profession.

Chris Bangle and Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

This is what he told me about the current generation of car designers running the show:

‘I grew up in a transitional generation of car designers, between the ones who had almost no brand affinity, and therefore felt free to create anything, and the generation after me who were schooled from day one to have enormous brand respect,’ he says.

‘They became so timid that all many could do was to regurgitate the past.’

Bangle is critical of some current designers who feel it is enough to do what came before them plus a little bit extra just to put their fingerprint on it.

‘You can always argue that the generation before didn’t have the constraints that we have,’ he says adding: ‘but that’s crap. The worst thing you can do is to think a rolling wheel is fixed on a track and you can’t move it left or right.’

Interestingly enough Bangle believes that the new generation of designers, the ones coming out of design schools, are creating the freshest work. ‘They are not afraid to look outside the envelope and are willing to understand the vehicle under very different terms,’ he notes.

Chris Bangle and Nargess Shahmanesh Banks at the BMW Tech Centre

‘The one’s I’ve spoken to are full of energy to do the right thing, with huge amounts of passion and love and a sense of beauty. And this is really what car design always has been about. The ‘spirit of endeavour’ is a fantastic muse and we have to get it back into car design.’

Read the full interview published in Car Design News and CAR.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

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