BMW Designworks launches new Santa Monica studio

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 eye-catching designs across a wide range of industries, including transportation, consumer electronics, lifestyle and health. In particular, the company has developed a reputation for its user-centered approach, which places the needs and desires of the end user at the center of every design decision.

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

Designworks’ new studio in Santa Monica 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 had the privilege of visiting the studio during Frieze Los Angeles 2023 and our expectations were exceeded.

BMW Designworks has evolved from creating clay models for 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 the three global Designworks 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 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 toward virtual communication and enables the team to bring their work to life for clients in new ways, while personal interaction remains important. Hampf adds, “Our new studio allows us to take full advantage of the freedoms that digitization 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 a keen interest in social and cultural developments that help them 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 central ideas. These images became the first to be released by BMW.

As a subsidiary of the BMW Group, Designworks is involved in internal design projects within the company, while also sharing ideas and expertise developed through its work with external clients from other sectors. This partnership provides an “outside-in” perspective that helps enrich and inform the development of the company’s user-centric approach. Designworks created two innovative seat studies for the BMW brand that combine sustainability with visionary design and experiment with new production methods and environmentally friendly materials such as bacteria-based and plastic-free fabrics.

The BMW M Hybrid V8 racer, which debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona, was also designed by Designworks, combining traditional elements with modern technology. Additionally, for the most recent Consumer Electronics Show, Designworks created a special app to accompany the unveiling 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 against any background to demonstrate its capabilities 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. Marking the opening of its new studio in Santa Monica, Designworks is poised to take even greater strides in design, inspiring innovative and sustainable mobility solutions of the future. And with its commitment to sustainability and cutting edge technology, Designworks is well positioned to continue its legacy of pushing boundaries in the world of design.

BMW Designworks
1601 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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