holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future
 

holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future

with studios in los angeles, munich and shanghai, designworks – a creative consultancy owned by the BMW Group – might be made up of designers but they actually act as architects, at least according to holger hampf, president of designworks: ‘it is important for designworks to be focused on systems as well as products. we understand this from our relationships with the BMW Group and our external clients. our design work is about a greater mobility challenge, not just cars anymore. we consider designworks to be the architects of the future. this is to have their mindset; an architect is always thinking about the context in which a building is built: the streets and the citizens. this is what I want from designworks as their president.

 

in our latest video, designboom interviews holger hampf as he delves into the origins of designworks – from its malibu beach-side beginnings through to its acquisition by the BMW Group – the future trends that lead their creativity, and the unique perspective offered from their global offices, users and clients.

holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future
portrait of holger hampf, president of designworks
(top image: BMWi interaction EASE)
all images courtesy of the BMW Group

 

 

although a subsidiary of the BMW Group, designworks have a unique position where they work for external clients too. this enables them to act as a research and design lab for the car culture, lifestyle and entertainment industries at large, not just solely for BMW. at the same time, however, their findings do filter back and update their parent company. ‘we carefully select who we are working with; we work with ambitious clients who are relevant to the BMW Group and vice-versa. for example, if a client operates in the mobility segment then it is a natural fit with the Group, and it benefits the client to work with a studio that is familiar with individual mobility. we create win-win situations, explains holger hampf.

holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future
designworks studio in los angeles, USA

 

 

they [the BMW Group] believe the more they know about the customer, the better they can develop their products. this is where designworks come in. we work strategically in customer research to find out what people really desire, what they need, and what they want to see from the BMW Group. we provide BMW with knowledge and market insights, specifically from our offices in LA and shanghai,‘ clarifies hampf. its the diversity of their studio locations – and external clients – that help designworks intimately understand the ever-evolving desires of global customers. their results aid BMW in creating products that cater to all markets, from europe to north america and asia.

holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future
designworks studio in munich, germany

 

 

holger hampf interprets the creatives within designworks as the architects of the future. this is in response to how their projects are now more focused on the mobility experience overall, rather than just cars. this ranges from the BMW i interaction EASE concept shown at CES 2020 to the EVA air business class airline seat and the north face FUTURELIGHT camper. ‘in our design, we are thinking not only about the car itself but also the overarching experiences that customers have now. designworks aim to identify and create connections between physical properties of a brand, such as exterior and interior styling, and digital experiences that include services.’ hampf continues to confirm: ‘this is why we are transforming BMW from a car company to a technology company.

holger hampf interview: why designworks are the architects of the future
designworks studio in shanghai, china

 

 

read the full transcript from our interview with holger hampf, below.

 

 

designboom (DB): firstly, could you please introduce yourself and your role at designworks?

 

holger hampf (HH): my name is holger hampf and I am the president of designworks. based at our headquarters in newbury park, 40 miles north of los angeles, USA, I am in charge of the organization and ensure our work remains consistent across our other two studios in munich, germany and shanghai, china.

 

 

DB: active for nearly 50 years, what were the founding principles of designworks and how are they still relevant today?

 

HH: designworks was founded in 1972 with the mission to create with great people, great design and great fun – and this is still valid today. 25 years ago, designworks became a 100% subsidiary of the BMW Group in order to help create BMW car programs relevant to the north american market. ever since this acquisition, our business model has been to pursue a mix of internal projects for the Group – BMW, MINI, rolls-royce and motorrad – and projects with external clients. these two aspects should optimally be in balance.

 

 

DB: why and how does designworks balance a mixture of internal and external projects?

 

HH: internally, we work exclusively for the BMW Group in the automotive industry. for external clients, we carefully select who we are working with; we work with ambitious clients who are relevant to the BMW Group and vice-versa. for example, if a client operates in the mobility segment then it is a natural fit with the Group, and it benefits the client to work with a studio that is familiar with individual mobility. we create win-win situations.

 

 

DB: after designworks’ acquisition 25 years ago, why does the studio remain so important to BMW’s design process?

 

HH: BMW designs cars for people’s lives, not just for transporting them from A to B. they believe the more they know about the customer, the better they can develop their products. this is where designworks come in. we work strategically in customer research to find out what people really desire, what they need, and what they want to see from the BMW Group. we provide BMW with knowledge and market insights, specifically from our offices in LA and shanghai. we then analyze the information and send our findings to munich for BMW to use.

 

 

DB: with offices based in LA, shanghai and munich, why were these locations chosen and how do they link together?

 

HH: it is important to offer local market perspectives when creating the one and only design concept. we combine and learn from the unique insights from our north american and chinese markets especially. our munich office acts as an important hub, ensures we integrate all perspectives into our work, and is a bridge to our parent company. it is also located close to the BMW Group, our research & development center, and is positioned in a time zone that is friendly to all our offices. we also have a constant rotation of talent changing in our workplace; people from BMW join designworks and vice-versa.

 

 

DB: what leading user trends are influencing your work with BMW and mobility design at large?

 

HH: like BMW, designworks are focused on ACES – autonomous, connected, electrification, and services and systems – whether you look at these four topics individually or all together. BMW’s EASE and BOOST driving modes are also very important. BMWs have always excelled at BOOST – the ability to drive yourself and experience sheer driving pleasure – and we are exploring ways to further enhance this in the future. the biggest challenge is about EASE – the field of autonomous driving – and what could happen when users take the hands off the steering wheel. for BMW, it is very important to get a local market perspective on these topics as we want to have the right offering when ACES is introduced worldwide from germany to the US and china.

 

 

DB: how are these new and important user trends changing the way BMW works?

 

HH: in our design, we are thinking not only about the car itself but also the overarching experiences that customers have now. designworks aim to identify and create connections between physical properties of a brand, such as exterior and interior styling, and digital experiences that include services. this is why we are transforming BMW from a car company to a technology company.

 

 

DB: as well as identifying new trends, how does designworks continue to push BMW into the future?

 

HH: while we have a strategic role as an internal design agency at the BMW Group, we have to remain provocative to our parent company. we must be ambitious and challenge them. BMW is not a company that can sit still, especially not at a time when so much is developing in the mobility field. we have a unique perspective of BMW and encourage them with fresh ideas that might look out into the future but, at the same time, be extremely relevant to people’s real desires.

 

 

DB: lastly what themes of projects will designworks focus on in the near future?

 

HH: it is important for designworks to be focused on systems as well as products. we understand this from our relationships with the BMW Group and our external clients. our design work is about a greater mobility challenge, not just cars anymore. we consider designworks to be the architects of the future. this is to have their mindset; an architect is always thinking about the context in which a building is built: the streets and the citizens. this is what I want from designworks as their president. I want us to think outside the box and include as many perspectives that influence design as possible.

 

 

consultancy info:

 

brand: designworks

parent: the BMW Group

founded: 1972

locations: los angeles, munich and shanghai

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