BMW Designworks opens a new studio in Santa Monica

Designworks is a global creative consulting firm focused on strategic innovation and design. Over the past 50 years, it has become known for creating innovative and impactful designs across multiple industries, including transportation, consumer electronics, lifestyle and health. In particular, the company has earned a reputation for its user-centric approach, which puts the needs and wants of the end user at the center of every design decision.

This approach has been honed over many years of collaboration with the BMW Group, the company’s parent organization, and has resulted in some of the most iconic automotive designs of the last few decades. However, Designworks’ expertise extends far beyond car design, and the company has used its design capabilities to create holistic mobility solutions that serve the entire ecosystem of urban spaces.

The new Designworks studio in Santa Monica is a testament to the company’s commitment to promoting innovation and sustainability in the mobility industry and has the potential to provide a significant presence in the Southern California design, media and tech community. We had the privilege of being in the studio for Frieze Los Angeles 2023 and our expectations were exceeded.

Over the past 50 years, BMW Designworks has evolved from creating clay models for vehicle design to developing holistic mobility solutions for urban spaces. The new Santa Monica studio, which is the largest of Designworks’ three global studios, will serve as a testing ground for innovative and sustainable future mobility solutions. Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design and former head of Designworks, believes that the new studio will inspire new ideas for BMW Group brands. The studio will support the transition from physical to digital design and development. Holger Hampf, Head of Designworks, emphasizes that the new workplace in Santa Monica is geared towards virtual communication and enables the team to bring their work for clients to life in new ways, while personal interaction remains important. Hampf adds: “Our new studio allows us to take full advantage of the freedom that digitalization gives us.”

According to van Hooydonk, artists and designers are thinkers of the future who challenge the status quo, accelerate transformation and shape the future. He and artist Thomas Demand share an intense interest in social and cultural events that help them assess the relevance of their work to the future. In 2019, van Hooydonk invited Demand to photograph the BMW Vision M NEXT ahead of its official unveiling, and Demand created paper parts of the car that artistically conveyed the main ideas of the vehicle. These images became the first published by BMW.

As a subsidiary of the BMW Group, Designworks is involved in in-house design projects while sharing ideas and knowledge gained while working with external clients in other sectors. This collaboration provides an “outside-in” perspective that helps enrich and inform the development of the company’s user-centric approach. Designworks has created two innovative seat studies for the BMW brand that combine sustainability with visionary design, experimenting with new production methods and environmentally friendly materials such as bacteria-based and plastic-free textiles.

The BMW M Hybrid V8 racing car, which debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona, was also designed by Designworks, combining traditional elements with modern technology. Additionally, for the recent Consumer Electronics Show, Designworks created a special app to accompany the presentation of the BMW i Vision Dee, a concept vehicle featuring colour-changing E Ink technology. The app allows users to create a “digital twin” of the car and display it against any background to demonstrate its potential in both the real and virtual worlds.

Overall, Designworks has come a long way since its inception, evolving from creating clay models for vehicle design to developing holistic mobility solutions for urban spaces. Signaling the opening of its new studio in Santa Monica, Designworks is poised to make even greater strides in design by inspiring innovative and sustainable mobility solutions for the future. With a commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge technology, Designworks is well positioned to continue its legacy of pushing boundaries in the world of design.

BMW design facilities
1601 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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