Adrian Van Hooydonk on Mini and BMW design

We caught up with BMW Group design director Adrian Van Hooydonk at the 2014 Paris Motor Show to discuss the latest Superleggera Vision Concept, sustainable driving and the future of Mini and BMW design.

DT. What inspired the team to create this latest Superleggera Vision Mini concept?

AVH. A two-seater roadster is very British; it is very traditional as a concept, yet how the design came up has such an Italian flair. It was a joint project between the very Italian Touring Superleggera and our Munich design department… so it became an interesting mix.

DT. Will the minimalist interior design translate to Mini production cars?

AVH. The dashboard was empty with the original Mini – that was all the technology they had then. We have returned to this. But now if you want to create an interior that is empty, you have to put a lot of technology underneath. We believe this is the future: to have a display in the centre of the dashboard, with everything else hidden away.

DT. What is your intention with this concept car?

AVH. You could say it is a letter of intent. There are of course certain design cues that you can very well see on the Mini of the future. For instance the front and rear end, and much of the interior that is reminiscent of the original Mini. Yes it is a vision we have for Mini – it is straight from the heart and what us designers are dreaming of.

DT. The car drives electrically. Is this also a vision for a Mini electric car?

AVH. As Mini is an urban brand, part of urban driving in the near future will be electric whether hybrid or full electric. We have already shown with BMW i that is can be very emotional, fun and fast… and yes it could work for Mini.

DT. How would the electric Mini emotionally evolve?

AVH. It is almost too early to answer this question. The Mini E offered electric driving but it was only a conversion. In the future we need to see if this should lead to a complete new design direction or not. Maybe it becomes an integral part of what Mini is. It is important to move the brand into the future and modernise it, and to give each of the cars a more unique character.

DT. How has the BMW i brand impacted on the company as a whole?

AVH. It was exceptional – it is the forefront of new technology for the whole group. We were extremely radical with the technology, manufacturing and form. Maybe with the other brands, when the time comes, we will integrate electric mobility which will influence the design but not to the extent of the i brand. It won’t make sense to do an i sub-brand for all the brands.

DT. How do you see the future of sustainable mobility for BMW?

AVH. The way we see it, electric mobility is new to the market, maybe avant-garde and maybe we’re at the forefront, but it will one day be a normal part of every company. Then you don’t need to do sub-brands. BMW i will continue its mission to deliver the newest technology that we see for the future. It will always operate ahead. Next year we are launching a car where we’ve worked hard to lower the weight and this was partly achieved by using the carbonfibre technology from the i cars. All I can say is the transfer of technology is already happening.

DT. You showed the BMW Vision Future Luxury earlier this year. How does this reflect your future form language, especially with the flagship 7 Series?

AVH. It is a true vision for our brand, full of ideas that will roll out in our next cars. We are very serious about these ideas. It is also our intention in terms of form language to go in this direction which means using very few lines. If you look at the car there is a lot of drama on the body but there are only two lines. Lines for us are graphic design; car design is more three-dimensional… what happens in between the lines. So the lines have to be sharp, precise and have the right tension, but what happens in between is even more exciting.

DT. What other elements will filter through?

AVH. The laser lights up front and in the rear is a technology we are working on that you will see in our cars. The interior is one landscape that flows into each other and the display is more integrated into the dashboard… a melting together of the central display, the header to allow the user to move information from one to the other. This we see as the future.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read our previous reports on BMW here.

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