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.
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.