Consumer centric design- insights into the work of the BMW Group design team

Are we there yet?

This is undoubtedly the most frequent question asked in a car, and also the key question that the automobile industry should be asking, said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, in his refreshing talk on the issue of consumer centric design at the Unfolded Design and Print Festival at the Gmund Campus in Tegernsee.

Adrian van Hooydonk gave an audience of 650 interested listeners an in-depth insight into the work, challenges and world of ideas of an automobile designer. Admittedly, the current climate is not easy for a designer, but it is ideal for demonstrating their creativity. After all, everyone wants to be mobile, and with zero emissions. As a designer, you can make an important contribution – like 10 years ago with the BMW i3. The vehicle concept was way ahead of its time, and is radical to this day, and still new, as the rising registration figures prove.  

But BMW Group designers cannot afford to sit back and relax. Quite the opposite: “We need to be thinking 10 years ahead,” was Adrian van Hooydonk’s appeal to both his team and his audience. Consumers have two main worries that they are becoming increasingly concerned about: does the technology work, and is it more intelligent than we are? One way of dealing with this is the concept that BMW Group Design is following, focussing less and less on the technology. Shy tech instead of high tech. Fewer and fewer buttons and switches and displays are being installed; instead all available surfaces such as the seats and centre consoles are being used as control surfaces.

The technology behind it is deliberately being given a low profile and only comes to light when it is needed. It might be unusual for the consumer, but Adrian van Hooydonk is confident: “Consumer centric design closes the gap between what consumers want and what they need.”

MSG Summary

There was rapturous applause for the designers present., and the lively exchange with the other speakers – including Steffi Czerny, organiser of the DLD conference, and Florian Kaps, entrepreneur and post-digital innovative thinker – and the discussions in the audience showed that Adrian van Hooydonk has not only made an important contribution to the issue of consumer centric design, but also motivated one or two listeners.

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