In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Claudia Geidobler.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In this edition of our series, Claudia Geidobler, Lead Designer Material and Colour Design at the BMW Group, talks about matters of taste, refinement and sustainable aesthetics.
Claudia Geidobler, what do sustainable aesthetics look like to you?
Claudia Geidobler: For me, it’s melding an unexpected moment, something completely new and a familiar component. For example, a new material that you wouldn’t think at first glance was sustainable. Sometimes you have to get used to a sustainable look. Natural material in particular does not always look the same as we’re used to – think of surfaces made of cork or wood. So we have to say goodbye to perfect uniformity. It’s like an organic apple. It tastes wonderful even if it is not quite the standard shape. This is a bit more difficult with a vehicle, of course. It has to appeal to a lot of people for it to catch on and suit tastes over a longer period of time.
You are the one in the BMW design team who brings the different trades together. What can you tell us about that?
Geidobler: Every component in the vehicle, inside and out, has a colour and a texture. In the design team, we work out the characteristics and design functions of the different interface elements, and I am responsible for bringing together the various aspects – I am like the paper clip that holds them all together. Our fundamental question at the moment is: how do we incorporate sustainability into the typical BMW aesthetic? After all, it’s all about developing a desirable product, made of desirable materials. And designers tend to be the creative force, surrounded by very technically-minded engineers – we have to understand each other. That is also my job; I communicate and am the standard bearer for aesthetic and technically feasible sustainability.
What do you personally want to achieve – what is your goal?
Geidobler: The specific thing is: we have designed a visionary vehicle for the IAA Mobility 2021 that is fully recyclable. It can be completely disassembled after use, each individual part can be recycled or reused. This vehicle is crammed full of possibilities – but so far it is only at the show car stage. I want to find out which of these great ideas can be viable in series production. And then more generally: I want to actively contribute to climate and environmental protection, not only in a relatively small way in my private world, but also at work. It’s important to me that we do not just scratch the surface. We have to go right to the base of the iceberg.
Where do you see the obstacles? What can stop the development of a sustainable aesthetic? And vice versa: what will help to move things forward?
Geidobler: To begin with, it is often much easier to stick with what we know. That is why we always need a catalyst. At the moment, however, many things are getting going and we are all stepping up the momentum. Our role in design is to drive innovation. This can sometimes take a while, because costs and safety also play a huge role in sustainability. It’s then a matter of achieving the best possible middle ground, taking all aspects into account. This is what I actually totally enjoy. My challenge is to create the best sustainable product.
What fuels your enjoyment? Why do you see sustainability as a challenge?
Geidobler: To some extent, the times we live in are all it takes to fire my motivation. I think it’s great that I can play a real part in creating a new, sustainable story against the backdrop of current issues. And I’m learning a lot, getting to grips with the materials and possibilities they open up so that I understand what it’s all about and can take an active part – that’s my challenge. I also see the opportunities in this new way of thinking.
Does your professional preoccupation with sustainability have an effect on how you go about things away from work as well?
Geidobler: I have a little daughter – she has actually brought about much more change in me than the job has. You see the world very differently when you have a child. Suddenly, you have much more of an eye on the legacy you are leaving behind. I have made changes in many small ways. I question products and my actions more and am always on the lookout for the right solutions for my family.
So, when is it good enough?
Geidobler: I hope that at some point we will no longer need to talk about sustainability. That it is simply there, quite naturally, and we are all totally at ease with it. The future should be welcoming.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.