You won't have Chris Bangle to kick around anymore. The BMW Group design chief famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) took BMW styling in a radical new direction beginning with the 2002 7-Series, a car that featured the extremely controversial "Bangle Bustle," and then really pushed the envelope (and some enthusiasts' patience) with the "flame-surfaced" 2002 Z4. The automaker's designs have mainstreamed considerably in the intervening years, but Bangle's impact is without question. Cues he pioneered have since been aped by other automakers; take the bustled trunklid of the Acura RL, for example.
And now he's quit BMW.
According to a brief statement released by the automaker, the 52-year-old Bangle has left to "...pursue his own design-related endeavors beyond the auto industry." From the sound of things, the breakup would appear to be an amicable one, as he will "maintain strong ties to the BMW Group." Then again, that could simply be an oblique way of noting that Bangle's influence on the vehicle lineup will be felt long after his departure. Adrian van Hooydonk, the head of design for the BMW brand, will succeed Bangle at the top of BMW Group design.
UPDATE: Official press release added after the jump.
[Source: Dow Jones | Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty]
CHRISTOPHER BANGLE HANDS OVER HIS POST AS HEAD OF DESIGN AT THE BMW GROUP TO ADRIAN VAN HOOYDONK IN ORDER TO EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES OUTIDE THE BMW GROUP AND THE AUTO INDUSTRY
Munich. Christopher E. Bangle, the BMW Group's Head of Design, has worked closely with Adrian van Hooydonk in BMW Group design development for nearly17 years. Now he is handing over his post to 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. Dr Draeger went on to explain that the BMW Group was currently "in an excellent position", thanks to a broad portfolio of automobiles and several new vehicle concepts due for market launch in the coming months and years. The BMW AG Management Board, he added, is looking forward to working with van Hooydonk as Head of BMW Group Design - a man who shares Bangle's fascination for technology and aesthetics, tradition and innovation. Dr Draeger affirmed that van Hooydonk would be in a position to continue to build on a design philosophy, which extends across the BMW Group's brands. Bangle's plan to pursue his own design-related endeavours beyond the auto industry marks the start of a new phase in his life while maintaining strong ties with the BMW Group.
Over the years numerous designs for new vehicles and vehicle concepts have been developed under Christopher Bangle's leadership. As well as continuing the BMW 3, 5 and 7 Series, he and his teams were responsible for a range of other models, including the BMW Z3, BMW Z4, BMW X5, BMW Z8, BMW X3, the new BMW 6 Series, the BMW X6 and the BMW 1 Series. Other developments under the auspices of Christopher Bangle include the new MINI and Rolls-Royce models and a number of innovative motorcycle concepts. During his tenure, Christopher Bangle was also instrumental in making the company's consultancy subsidiary, BMW Group DesignworksUSA, what it is today: a global design agency in North America, Munich and Singapore for leading international brands and companies in a wide variety of industries.
Thanks to their outstanding design quality numerous products from all three of the BMW Group's automobile brands have won a host of renowned awards from around the world. Bangle has always had a special aptitude for working with his teams to strengthen the identities and unmistakable images of the BMW Group's brands and to inspire design innovations, said Dr Draeger, Board Member for Development. Over the years he has received a dozen patents for his technical applications and design. These, along with the one hundred additional patents awarded to the BMW Group Design under Bangle's auspices, are a testimony to his creative and innovative power.
Born in the USA, Christopher Bangle, aged 52, has been Head of BMW Group Design Development since October 1992. After studying at the University of Wisconsin and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he began his working life in Rüsselsheim, where he worked for Adam Opel AG. In 1985 he joined FIAT, where he became Director of the FIAT Centro Stile in 1992. Shortly afterwards he left the Italian automaker to come to Munich.
Throughout his career with the BMW Group Bangle's right-hand man has been Adrian van Hooydonk, who is now set to become his successor. He described van Hooydonk as "truly a top professional in our business," adding, "I am sure that the many strong design strategies he has helped us create for the BMW Group will continue to develop and evolve."
Adrian van Hooydonk, aged 44, will take over as Director of BMW Group Design with immediate effect. In his new position he 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 the year 2000 he went to California to work for the BMW Group subsidiary Designworks USA. He was Director of the internationally renowned design agency from 2001 to 2004. Then, under Bangle as the BMW Group's Head of Design, he became Head of the Brand Design Studio for BMW Automobiles.
The BMW 6 Series and 7 Series lines clearly bear the hallmark of van Hooydonk's design influence, as do the Z9 Concept Car, the BMW Concept CS (unveiled in 2007) and the M1 Hommage Study. In 1997 van Hooydonk created the ACV 30 Show Car for MINI and more recently he and his team have developed the designs for the new BMW 7 Series and Z4 as well as for the Concept Progressive Activity Sedan, which celebrates its premiere at the Geneva Auto Show in early March 2009.
"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." Speaking of his hopes for the years to come, van Hooydonk added: "I have no doubt that there are challenges ahead, but BMW's depth in engineering and the passion of its talented design team are as strong as ever. Together I am sure we will be able to create some very sophisticated and extremely attractive concepts."