Even to casual car enthusiasts, Chris Bangle needs no introduction. One of the most controversial designers of all time, the "Bangle Butt" redesign of the BMW 7 Series is still hotly debated even today. Introduced in 2002 during Bangle's tenure as chief designer at BMW, the E65 7 Series only began to develop Bangle's new design language for BMW, later dubbed "flame surfacing." Whether you love or hate his work – and there seems to be no middle ground – the man's influence is undeniable. Many manufacturers have since borrowed aspects of his designs for their own vehicles.


It's only fitting, then, that the 25th anniversary Eyes On Design car show should award Bangle its prestigious Lifetime Design Achievement Award. Held each summer at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House just outside Detroit in Grosse Pointe Shores, Eyes On Design is a real insiders club, in that only those designers who have won the Lifetime Design Achievement Award are eligible to vote.

While we knew Bangle would be receiving this award from his peers since November 2011, the actual ceremony was held this past weekend at the Detroit Yacht Club. Retired Ford designer Jack Telnack, General Motors design chief Ed Welburn, and Ford director of exterior design Joel Piaskowski were among those who spoke. Bangle joins a pretty famous crew of past award winners, including Italian design legends Giorgetto Giugiaro and the recently deceased Sergio Pininfarina, William "Willy" G. Davidson of Harley-Davidson, and former Chrysler and GM "car guy in chief" Bob Lutz.

Scroll down to watch video footage of the awards ceremony and read the full press release.




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Renowned car designer feted at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club during EyesOn Design weekend

July 16, 2012, Detroit, MI. Well-known car designer Chris Bangle was presented with the 2012 Lifetime Design Achievement Award in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan on June 15 at the Vision Honored black-tie event which kicked off the EyesOn Design automotive design show weekend.

The weekend culminated with the 25th anniversary EyesOn Design car show on the grounds of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores on Father's Day, June 17, which featured nearly 300 of the best-looking vehicles ever made.

The Lifetime Design Achievement Award, given annually by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology (DIO), is unique in that only vehicle designers who have previously won the award are eligible to vote.

Born in Ohio and raised in Wisconsin, Bangle gained fame as BMW's design leader where his recognizable styling themes helped the brand set sales records and overtake Mercedes Benz as the global leader in premium car sales. Since 2009, he has directed his own design studio in Turin, Italy.

Displayed at the yacht club were several concept cars including the unique fabric-bodied GINA concept car designed by Bangle. The car was also shown at the Sunday show.

"Chris was constantly exploring new ideas and innovations in design, as seen in the GINA concept," noted Alec Bernstein, director of advanced communications, BMW DesignWorks USA.

Also remarking on Bangle's career during the Vision Honored evening were Ed Welburn, General Motors Vice President of Global Design; Joel Piaskowski, Director, Exterior Design for the Americas, Ford Motor Company and Jack Telnack, retired Ford designer and the 2005 recipient of the Lifetime Design Achievement Award.

Lear Corporation and Nissan were sponsors of the Vision Honored award ceremony.

EyesOn Design is unique among auto shows because it celebrates vehicle design. The show and weekend events are a major source of revenue for the DIO's research, education and support programs for the visually-impaired.

Other auto-related DIO events include the EyesOn Design awards each year at the North American International Auto Show and The Eye & The Auto International Conference, held at the General Motors Global Learning Center in Detroit, Michigan.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 56 Comments
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      In that case, Roy Brown deserves a posthumous award for the Edsel.
      Big Rocket
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is very telling that even BMW itself is trying to tone down flame surfacing after Chris Bangle's departure. If flame surfacing was such a good idea, why would BMW tone it down? And yeah, BMW sales increased during Chris Bangle's tenure, but that time period also coincided with easy credit and a booming market. Easy money allowed Yuppies to buy BMWs, not because flame surfacing looked good, but because the BMW brand cachet allowed their owners to show off their newfound wealth. In other words, sales increased not because of flame surfacing, but in spite of it. To close my post: The last time I saw something with flame surfacing, it was in my toilet bowl. And that's exactly where flame surfacing belongs, until it is flushed away as soon as possible.
      Dvanos
      • 2 Years Ago
      Love or hate his designs they were ahead of their time and duplicated by many other marques like KIA and Hyundai.
        desinerd1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dvanos
        Just look at the Sonata. It looks like 5 series. And Santa Fe is a carbon copy of X5
          Dvanos
          • 2 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          Exactly!! The one design i never like even til this day was the 2002-2005 BMW 7 series. The front was just hideous and the trunk looked like it was unfinished. The refresh done in 2006 was way better however it makes me wonder why didn't they start with this design from the get go? If I ever meet Bangle that would one question I would ask him.
          bonehead
          • 2 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          hahaha trolling Dvanos pretending to agree with him. Actually its completely clear that the veloster is a direct ripoff of the 1 series M
      Chris Bangle
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thank you so much. You're all too kind.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      And "There Will Be Blood" was a good movie.
      ZLY
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just like in the fine arts. Do something horrible (and he did something HORRIBLE) have a dissertation backing it up (too boring for most to read but covers up the hideous like the emperor's new clothes) and be the equivalent of PT Barnum pushing it and NEVER admit any part of it was a mistake. Of course you will get an award for this. Ultimately it has nothing to do with the heinous travesty which were his designs. There are still plenty of car companies who feel they must acknowledge his innovative design (convex into concave, blah blah) in their otherwise fine cars: I'm looking at you Ford Fusion, Ferrari...So many others. Porsche, thankfully had no use for it.
        MotionDesigner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ZLY
        You don't know ****. I'm sorry, but you don't.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ZLY
        [blocked]
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      I KNOW everyone is going to come in here and come up with some kind of witty remark that these guys must be blind, but the guy has been an EXTREMELY influential force in automotive design for decades now. He's probably going to be best remembered for his not-to-well-received Bangle Butt, but even though people say they hate that design, many automakers have copied it to one degree or another.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Besides being pompous and arrogant, never has there ever been a designer in the automotive industry as over-rated as Chris Bangle.
        Dwight Bynum Jr.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        He earned the right to be pompous and arrogant. His styling decisions have influenced the look of MANY modern vehicles, period. How many people can say that?
        Andre Neves
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fNg9jP66JU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HbKmr_Spyc
      Kuro Houou
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have to say the stuff he designed was revolutionary and I think some of it did look good. Compare that to what BMW is pumping out now and it was great, cough 1 series, cough bi-focal head lights! BMW has taken a nose dive since he left.
        bonehead
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Bangle invented the bi-focals and the last gen 1 series is bangles. He was fan of that drooping line down the side fo the car that makes it look like its buckling under its own weight. If you take a look at the new z4 you can see how good his design language can look if a talented designer interprets it. Its sad how he destroyed the 7 series and 5 Series. Thank God we are past that now.
          Chris Bangle
          • 2 Years Ago
          @bonehead
          I didn't design the last gen 1 series. Adrian van Hooydonk did.
          bonehead
          • 2 Years Ago
          @bonehead
          sure "chris" but it has your design cues all over it. no one would give a car a buckling beltline if you didnt push that sh1t on BMW previously
      rsholland
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good for him! He deserves it! So he shook up the establishment a bit. That's what ground-breaking artists, scientists, writers, etc. do. I see his influence applied to a number of cars beyond the BMW badge.
      robespierex
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the guy responsible for ending my admiration of BMW. Chasis and dynamics will only get you so far, the stylings got to be right, too. Sucks, but I've accepted it and moved on.
      El Angel
      • 2 Years Ago
      While the sales at BMW did go up when he was on the payroll. I won't give him credit for it because BMW was on a roll with e30,e34,e36,e39e, etc. I also never cared for his designs. I think he was bad for the car industry. Cars on average from 2000-2010 were bland. I think most designers at the time tried to copy this guy.
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