With the exit of our friend Gert Hildebrand MINI is entering a new era. While MINI Design under the leadership of Gert was more than successful in expanding the range and building the brand, we can’t help but think this is a good move for both parties.

The timing couldn’t be better for Anders Warming as well. Anders is coming off of the successful debut of three concepts he oversaw; the 6 Series coupe, four door coupe and the production 6 Series convertible. Beyond that Anders has overseen the most recent Z4, 5 series and X3. And he leaves BMW just as he was finishing up work on the next generation 3 Series.

He arrives at MINI just in time for an entirely new generation of cars. While initial design work on the 2013 MINI hatch is well underway, we fully expect him to have a significant level of influence over the final product with nearly two years until launch.

We also expect him and his team to start creating more visual distinction between models. According to Julian Rendell at Autocar, MINI Design will likely take more chances with the niche products (the Paceman and the Clubman for instance) while moving the next generation hatch to a slightly more aggressive, foundational design language.

In fact one statement from BMW Group Design Chief Adrian Van Hooydonk (from the Autocar article) deserves to be seen here:

>The foundation of the range — the hatchback — will set the design tone, and be close to the recent design themes, but we can expect the spin-off models to be a little more adventurous. “Of all our brands, MINI has the youngest buying profile and those are people who are more open to change.”

That last sentence will surely be debated here and elsewhere among the MINI faithful. While the demographic in the rest of the world remains young, the average age in the US is noticeably higher. Will that older age group accept the change Van Hooydonk references? That will remain to be seen. With a vocal minority still complaining about any MINI since the R50/R53, it will be interesting to see reactions in the years ahead.

Through it all, we know the brilliant people at MINI Design have a lot of surprises in store for us. We here at MF can’t wait to see them and be a small part of it all.