There may not be a more divisive modern automotive designer than Chris Bangle. The former BMW design chief was responsible for some of the most controversial designs the marque has ever put into production, some of which have left many divided to this day. Bangle emerged from his design studio in Italy to walk the show floor at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, and he had some not-so-pleasant words for designers at large.
Automotive News Europe chronicled Bangle's tour around the show floor where one word, in particular, highlighted the state of automotive design, according to him: "banal." The report doesn't detail which automaker or brand he was most critical of, but he spoke of a former "rival" with most scrutiny.
"It's a wonderful stand," he said of the unnamed brand. "It has a wonderful amount of technology they are showing. But as a designer, I am used to a set of uniqueness and freshness and change. This will turn into a critique of [try to guess] and I really don't want it to be published like that, but for the life of me, I can't find a new idea."
Bangle gave a similar criticism to the industry at large in 2013 when he said automotive designers were in a "rut" and the lack of innovation was keeping automakers from entering a "new era." Today, he echoed that four-year-old sentiment and hardly minced words.
"[Young designers] defend their brands like the virtue of Guinevere and they are doing it by putting a chastity belt around the girl and, sorry, that's not how you make kids. That's not how you make a future." Ouch.
Bangle also revealed he's tackled his first automotive-related project since exiting the industry in 2009. He didn't list specifics, but said it's an existing firm that comes from manufacturing. When will we see this secret Bangle project?
"Much sooner than later. I just don't want to get into hype," he said.