Official BMW AG Press Release: The exhibition dedicated to this year’s winners of the red dot award hosted by the red dot design museum, which is situated on the grounds of Essen’s World Cultural Heritage, the coal mine “Zeche Zollverein”, was extended until 5 August, 2007. At the centre of this presentation of outstanding product design are highly acclaimed design projects accomplished by the this year’s winner of the title “Design Team of the Year”.: BMW Group The show in Essen, which has already been extended once before, demonstrates how BMW Group always succeeds in fascinating customers of the BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorcycle brand with the design of their vehicles while also convincing the automotive experts.
At the internationally acclaimed design competition, current BMW Group products were also highly successful. Both the new BMW 3 Series Coupe and the new MINI were presented with a Red Dot Award 2007. The jury also considered three BMW Motorcycle models: BMW F 800 S, BMW G 650 Xcountry and BMW HP2 Megamoto. Winning the title of “Design Team of the Year 2007” however, was the highlight of the award winning ceremony as it expresses the jury’s respect for sustained and trend-setting innovative design work. The award pays tribute to the design team for successfully highlighting the premium character of the car, while maintaining the tradition of the brands and expressing the innovative force of BMW Group.
This year’s red dot awards presentation ceremony pays tribute to the design achievement of a whole team, the “Design Team of the Year” rather than honoring the work of individual designers. During the award ceremony at the Aalto-Theater in Essen, Christopher E. Bangle, BMW Group’s chief designer, emphasized his appreciation of this shift in focus. “Successful, sustained design never the work of an individual ,” Bangle explained. He highlighted the importance of bringing a range of different characters and personalities with diverse skills and qualifications using a high variety of different tools to work on one project.
An essential element of BMW Group’s design philosophy is the principle of integrating a group of people with a variety of different skills in one successful unit. This is not just about teamwork but about the selection of the most efficient and effective method for every single stage of the project. “We need to put the right people in the right place,” Bangle sums up, “and we need the right tool at the right time.”
This method is an integral part of the process of designing vehicles of the BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorcycle brand. At the beginning of the design process, the designers are faced with an empty, white sheet of paper and their heads are full of information and ideas. The visual expression of design concepts is delivered in many sketches. At the same time, two- and three-dimensional drafts are created by means of digital tools. These versatile tools allow the development of rough surface geometries and animations within a relatively short period of time. More importantly, however, they allow a highly efficient exchange of data with all other partners in the product development process.
During all stages, the design process is characterized by an ongoing assessment to ensure that the right tools are used for the process in hand. A life-size “tape plan” with the finalized proportions for example, is used to hone the most important contour lines. This method allows the rapid implementation of changed within the design concept without excessive material consumption. This is followed by the next stage: from two-dimensional to three-dimensional representation. At this time, the first clay models and the first virtual three-dimensional models are developed. Both tools are important in their own specific way: the clay model widens the sensory perception, while the computer allows a fast and precise transfer of data to the numerous development partners.
The designers are set on dealing with the problem of when best let machines take over manual processes and vice versa in an ongoing and deliberate process. The quest for the right tool is guided by clear principles, which determine the composition and interaction of a design team. Best example: CAS (Computer Aided Styling) methods for design processes are only deployed by clay modelers with a high degree of professionalism and many years of experience with the clay modeling process. Only then can these skilled team members exploit the strengths of this tool without losing the design to its preference. Does work on a virtual object open up new design potential or does it even restrict creativity? In order to find answers o these questions, one must look to the work on a real, three-dimensional object. This way the personal touch of skilled human beings with their optical and tactile sensory abilities remains at the center of this process.
“Whenever we need to see the overall effect of a vehicle, the eyes and hands of the human designer are vastly superior to any computer tool,” Ralf Kostenzer, Head of Clay and CAS Modelling at BMW Group’s design department, emphasizes. Yet, computers are indispensable when it comes to making the production process more efficient and gaining more time for the creative process.
When it comes to making design processes more efficient, the deployment of a five-axis CNC milling machine is doubtlessly the tool of choice. This machine is used to introduce rough contours and proportions to a new clay model. The milling machine is programmed to CAS data. The rough models are then manually honed with fine tools to their final design. Over a period of several months, the clay modelers will refine, diversify and add the finishing touches to the clay model. “For us, the finer modeling work that come with the design of surfaces truly proves that car design is a form of art,” Kostenzer explains. This is achieved by a close cooperation between designers and clay modelers. At the same time, they will use their CAS skills to quickly change individual details such as headlight assemblies or wheel via rapid prototyping whenever this is deemed efficient. Different methods are seamlessly integrated into the entire design process.
The processes a selected model has to undergo prior to its series production are characterized by interaction between human creativity and computer-aided efficiency. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is used to reconvert the data acquired by scanning the clay model into three-dimensional computer models. This way, data is transferred efficiently to all departments involved in the product development process right through to preparing the model for the tooling department, which marks the start of all series production processes. Up until this moment, the hand-made clay model remains the final reference for the safe implementation of all technical requirements.