Side view of the Designworks drone

Limitless design for new innovations.

20. September 2019
ca. 3 minutes

BMW Group subsidiary Designworks is not just shaping automotive solutions for tomorrow’s mobility. The creative studio is also bringing its expertise to external customer projects – and gaining new insights for the BMW Group. One of these projects – an air taxi powered by fuel cells – is conquering realms that will always be beyond the reach of cars: namely, the skies. 

Designworks sees itself as the "architect of the future”, with a clear focus on human-centric design. This is impressively demonstrated by the project "Skai", which introduces the world's first passenger air mobility solution powered by a fuel cell drive system, designed and developed in conjunction with Alaka'i Technologies. Alaka’i Technologies is an emerging company founded on decades of aerospace development. In this project, Designworks was chiefly responsible for designing the five-person drone, also referred to as an air taxi.

Implementing ambitious visions of the future as well as practical design strategies, the innovative idea was transformed into a prototype that provides unique and relevant impetus. The starting point for the design process was the interior of the drone. This formed the basis for developing the entire vehicle concept from the inside out. A physical model extended by virtual reality functions enabled Designworks to identify and evaluate several vehicle configurations quickly and fully. This way, it was possible to develop a solution that could deliver a unique and unforgettable passenger experience.

From its sleek, clean design to its fuel source – the system is powered solely by hydrogen fuel cells – Skai is poised to be one of the safest, cleanest and most versatile air mobility solutions in the world.

Front view of the Designworks drone
Interior view of the Designworks drone

The BMW Group is following the latest developments in the field of urban air mobility with interest. Even though the company has no plans to get actively involved in this field, solutions like “Skai” can generate important, innovative ideas for a wide range of mobility concepts.

Designworks also gives the BMW Group exclusive insights into developing areas of mobility that might be relevant in the future, as people’s urban mobility mix potentially becomes a lot more diverse than the options currently available. Because it understands the importance of the passenger experience and human-centric design, Designworks is ideally positioned to gather outside experience of this kind and bring knowledge into the BMW Group.

Designworks has already demonstrated the success of this approach through a variety of mobility projects. For instance, the company has contributed its experience and creative expertise to projects such as Virgin Hyperloop One, the charging station design for IONITY and designing the five-star business class for EVA Air. Through all of these projects, it has helped drive future mobility concepts and solutions forward.

Designworks develops holistic systems for the BMW Group and other partners that impact and improve the world we live in. With three global studios in Los Angeles, Munich and Shanghai, Designworks acts as a powerful tool helping the BMW Group be at the very forefront of design, technology and innovation.

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Annette Baumeister


Designworks, a subsidiary of the BMW Group, is a global creative consultancy. Through its experience with clients in diverse industries, Designworks is able to bring external perspectives and creative inspiration to the BMW Group. Designworks also shares its know-how from the complex automotive sector with customers from other industries in joint innovation projects.
We met Annette Baumeister, Studio Director of the Designworks office in Shanghai and asked her five questions about Designworks, the Chinese way of design-thinking and todays design trends.

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