Mike Stevens | Feb 4, 2009

Look at that turtleneck. Who else can rock a turtleneck like Chris Bangle?

Chris Bangle, possibly the owner of the snappiest beard in the auto industry, has put down his pencil and made a B(MW)-line for the door. Not to take his design axe of fury to any other car company, mind you. No, Bangle is off to tackle other design interests, unrelated to the auto industry.

Famous for taking BMW away from the classically evolved lines that it had maintained for decades, bringing sweeping character lines and unorthodox shapes – particularly with the headlights – to the Bavarian carmaker, Bangle has polarised enthusiasts and observers since he laid his pen to the 7-Series in 2002.

Responsible for some of BMW’s most controversial styling, Bangle’s handiwork can now be found across the entire BMW range, where his team took over the design duties on the core brands – the BMW 3, 5, and 7-Series – as well as breathing life into just about all the rest as well: the BMW Z3, BMW Z4, BMW X5, BMW Z8, BMW X3, the new BMW 6-Series, the BMW X6 and the BMW 1-Series.

chris-bangle_2

Bangle’s efforts didn’t stop and start at BMW though, with MINI and Rolls Royce models feeling the touch of his mighty marker as well.

Dr Klaus Draeger, BMW AG’s Board Member for Development, said, “Christopher Bangle has had a lasting impact on the identity of BMW Group’s brands. His contribution to the company’s success has been decisive, and together with his teams he has mapped out a clear and aesthetic route into the future.

"Bangle has always had a special aptitude for working with his teams to strengthen the identities and unmistakable images of the BMW Group’s brands and to inspire design innovations.”

Bangle, aged 52, will apparently maintain a strong relationship with BMW, so it at least appears that his exit was an amicable split.

Succeeding Bangle as the new Head of BMW Group Design Development is Adrian van Hooydonk, who according to BMW is "…a man who shares Bangle’s fascination for technology and aesthetics, tradition and innovation." It looks as though Bangle’s detractors may not have anything to look forward to with van Hooydonk’s work either.

adrian-van-hooydonk_01Note to aspiring automotive designers: The side-part and wavy mop is the key. Don’t be afraid to neglect your shaving duties either.

van Hooydonk, aged 44, said he is honoured and excited to take on his new role, after filling his earlier role as Head of the Brand Design Studio for BMW Automobiles.

“BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce produce the best cars and motorcycles in their segment, and I am really looking forward to being able to contribute to the future development of these brands.

“I have no doubt that there are challenges ahead, but BMW’s depth in engineering and the passion of its talented design team are as strong as ever. Together I am sure we will be able to create some very sophisticated and extremely attractive concepts.”

Adrian van Hooydonk has played a major role in BMW’s recent designs, with the BMW 6 and 7-Series, Z9 Concept Car, the BMW Concept S, and the M1 Hommage Study all bearing hallmarks of Hooydonk’s style and influence.

Yep, definitely nothing for Bangle’s detractors to look forward to. For the rest of us that appreciate the desire to simply do something new, unique, and original – it’s good times ahead.

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