Business Week has some great insight into the why, the hows of Chris Bangle ‘s departure from BMW. For one the rumors that Bangle was forced out appear to be wrong. Here ‘s an excerpt:
His exit, say people familiar with the company, was not forced. Rather, said the same executives, the designer had been laying groundwork for an exit for many months.
The article also goes into some detail into Bangle ‘s original marching orders and the success and criticism that followed:
When Bangle was hired at BMW, the company was embarking on a mission to shake up its design footprint. “We were making sausages at different lengths, and management at that time, especially chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim and technical director Wolfgang Reitzle, felt we needed to break away and chart a new course for the company and the brand…we were going to be introducing SUVs and new sports cars and we needed a design language in which to do it,” Bangle said in an interview with me for a book I wrote in 2004, “Driven: Inside BMW, The Most Admired Car Company in the World.”
Bangle oversaw the design of numerous breakout and brand changing designs for the BMW brand and BMW as a company including the 2001 and 2009 7 Series, three generations of 3 Series and 5 Series, BMW’s foray into SUVs, including the X5, X3 and X6, as well as the 1 Series, and the comeback of the 6 Series. He also oversaw the design of BMW’s recent re-do of the MINI Cooper, as well as the MINI Clubman, more so than the design of the original 2000 MINI (ED – this is at odds with our understanding of his involvement in the original R50 MINI). And he led the design of the Rolls Royce Phantom after BMW acquired the iconic British brand.
Automotive journalists have been harsh on several of Bangle’s designs when they have been introduced. But in just about every case, such as the 2001 7 Series and Z4, criticism tempered after a year or two as it became clear that rivals like Toyota, including its Lexus division and Mercedes, were adopting some of Bangle’s design cues and principals to their cars and SUVs.
“We aren’t copying anyone else’s design language, not even our own, and I think that makes some people uncomfortable,” said Bangle in a previous interview with me.
Like the author I do believe that Hooydonk will have a tough act to follow. It ‘s not just that Bangle has set the tone for design at BMW but he has also created a atmosphere that has helped BMW become one of the most talked about companies in the world in regards to design. He has elevated the thought behind the concept and the concept behind the car. In the end, Bangle led BMW through a radical design revolution that was followed by the company ‘s most successful years ever financially. Hardly an easy task when you think about it.
+ Chris Bangle Designs His Own Exit / Business Week