BMW Designworks launches new studio in Santa Monica

Designworks is a global creative consultancy focused on strategic innovation and design. Over the past 50 years, it has become known for creating innovative and impactful designs across a wide range of industries, including transportation, consumer electronics, lifestyle and healthcare. In particular, the company has developed a reputation for its user-centric approach, which puts the end user’s needs and wants at the heart of every design decision.

This approach has been refined 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 recent decades. However, Designworks’ expertise extends far beyond automotive design, and the company has leveraged its design resources to create holistic mobility solutions that serve the entire ecosystem of urban spaces.

Designworks’ new Santa Monica studio is a testament to its dedication to driving innovation and sustainability in the mobility industry and has the potential to establish a significant presence in the Southern California design, media and technology community. We were privileged to visit the studio during the Frieze Los Angeles 2023 event, and our expectations were exceeded.

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

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

As a subsidiary of the BMW Group, Designworks is involved in internal design projects within the company, while sharing ideas and knowledge developed through its work with external clients from 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 seating studies for the BMW brand that combine sustainability with visionary design and is experimenting with new production methods and eco-friendly materials such as bacteria-based and plastic-free fabrics.

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 latest Consumer Electronics Show, Designworks has created a special app to accompany the presentation of the BMW i Vision Dee, a concept vehicle featuring color changing E Ink technology. The app allows users to create a “digital twin” of the car and project it onto any background to demonstrate its potential in both the real and virtual worlds.

In conclusion, 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 Santa Monica studio, Designworks is poised to take even greater steps forward in the field of design, inspiring innovative and sustainable mobility solutions of the future. And with its dedication to sustainability and cutting-edge technology, Designworks is well positioned to continue its legacy of pushing boundaries in the design world.

BMW Designworks
1601 Olympic Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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