In BMW Group’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ), Member of the Board of Management Pieter Nota and Head of Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk can be seen above entering the Holodeck with smiles on their faces. Holodeck is the name of the lounge – fitted with cutting edge technology – where the design team usually presents future vehicle concepts in a digital format and discusses their ideas. But today we are interviewing them here for something slightly different – to talk about luxury.
And so holistic means communicating on all digital and analogue channels?
Pieter Nota: Absolutely. Digital experiences and personal support are two sides of the same coin, and they’re inseparable. Our vehicles are high-tech, beautiful, modern and sophisticated products, which we want to reflect in how we communicate with customers. At BMW, we call this high tech / high touch: our customers have a myriad of options, not only to communicate with their vehicle, but also to get in touch with us. For instance, whilst on the sofa in the evening, a customer can choose to dive into our brand world using their smartphone. But this is also complemented by the first-class customer support provided by our dealerships.
What does this direction mean for design at BMW, Mr van Hooydonk?
Adrian van Hooydonk: How customers spend time in their car and what we can offer them during this time are incredibly important to us. BMWs are and will of course always be driving machines that you enjoy controlling yourself. I think a powerful electric vehicle like our BMW iX M60* speaks for itself in this regard. At the same time, we continue to offer more options in terms of assisted and automated driving. Both make a BMW stand out – active and assisted driving in harmony. We intentionally design our interiors to be customisable, adaptive and high-quality because they’re also a personal space.
Could you give us an example of that?
Adrian van Hooydonk: Take our Theatre Screen, for instance, which we recently revealed at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. It offers a truly unique experience and atmosphere for passengers sitting in the rear seats. Designers like me spend a lot of time thinking about how we can make something like this feel completely harmonious, which is why we focussed on great sound and beautiful lighting as well as making it logical and easy to use.
Pieter Nota: Adrian, you are absolutely right. The Theatre Screen is a perfect example of what luxury means today because it offers a unique experience. It’s far more than just a large screen because it combines the light, sound and atmosphere so that vehicle occupants can enjoy a genuine cinematic experience in the car. But luxury for BMW is also about offering top-class performance and setting new standards.
On a similar note, many people are asking whether luxury and sustainability are even compatible. What are your thoughts?
Pieter Nota: In the past, luxury was often about acquiring the best in the world. But now it’s also about the best for the world. This is part of our brand promise. And at the BMW Group, we’re committed to resolving this apparent contradiction for customers. We are taking this very seriously and reporting our plans and progress with complete transparency on our way towards ever-greater sustainability.
Adrian van Hooydonk: Our main aim is circularity. The whole process of creating and using a product needs to be sustainable from start to finish. As designers, we’re exploring every option to make this a reality. And although you might think this is somewhat restrictive, it’s actually incredibly exciting and allows us to be extremely creative.
Pieter Nota: This is not just empty talk – we’re following up on our words with action. A great example is our BMW i Vision Circular, which we presented in September 2021. It’s a truly luxurious but also fully recyclable vehicle. Our BMW i7 will also show how we can bring these aims together. We’ve certainly set ambitious goals in terms of sustainability without our customers having to sacrifice anything. Sustainability presents a great opportunity to create a new, modern kind of luxury. And that’s what the BMW Group stands for.