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Progressive luxury meets creative excellence. A design collaboration between BMW and Patricia Urquiola.

When a plan was hatched to create a very special stage for the new flagship models in BMW’s product portfolio, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk, Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola and BMW Welt got together to consider the task at hand. Their collaboration resulted in a new space that will also showcase the new BMW 7 series starting from 16 January.


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Munich. When a plan was hatched to create a very special stage for the new flagship models in BMW’s product portfolio, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk, Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola and BMW Welt got together to consider the task at hand. Their collaboration resulted in a new space that will also showcase the new BMW 7 series starting from 16 January. A particular highlight of the project is the design of the flooring, the pattern of the 322-square-metre surface produced with the help of cutting-edge 3D-printing technology and moulded with terrazzo into a coherent whole. Metallic mesh curtains and a lounge area featuring original works by Urquiola provide the backdrop for this intriguingly unorthodox presentation space.

The inimitable architecture and singular concept behind BMW Welt make it the perfect venue for a design collaboration to take flight. More than just a showpiece building where the company’s products and brands are brought to life and presented within their respective experience worlds, BMW Welt also sets out to display the exhibits within unique and very special settings, and to create inspirational moments for visitors. To ensure it also delivers on this mission for the new flagship models in the BMW range, BMW Welt has taken a new approach with the creation of an exhibition – in tandem with BMW Group Design and Patricia Urquiola – that embodies a new understanding of luxury, stimulating aesthetics and self-shaping individuality.

The relationship and respect between van Hooydonk and Urquiola date back many years, so the decision to invite Urquiola to Munich to find out more about this exceptional project was an obvious one. After all, when it came to the stage design for its new flagship models, BMW was particularly keen to find a partner who shared its interpretation of luxury. Indeed, van Hooydonk and Urquiola both view luxury as the product of design that offers people something special and allows them the time to relax and enjoy.

“For me, luxury today means having time. The time we spend in our cars will get increasingly personal and important. For this reason, we need to design the space inside them to make the time we’re there as pleasant as possible. When we talk about luxury nowadays, we refer to ‘modern’ luxury, one element of which is always a combination of innovation and technology,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.

In her design, Patricia Urquiola has expanded on the theme of “freedom”, one which she feels best describes luxury. BMW considers this idea of freedom part of any design alliance, and the creative conversation is always a focal point when a potential partner is invited to Munich. The collaboration with Urquiola centred around the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe. For BMW, this car embodies the perfect blend of high performance and luxury. The concept car’s exclusive paint shade recalled the colour gradients of the mystic and poetic Northern Lights – and BMW photographed it against the blue/green shimmer of a frozen lake. Urquiola drew inspiration from this modern staging concept in her transformation of the space at BMW Welt.

The end result at BMW Welt is a standout design for the presentation of BMW’s new flagship models – inviting, modern and radiating warmth. This combination of wellbeing and humanity, innovation and technology can also be found in the design of the floor. Classic terrazzo teams up with cutting-edge 3D-printing technology and brings a feeling of organic lines to the 3D-printed elements.

Both BMW Design, as an industry innovator, and Patricia Urquiola, as a renounced architect and designer, are firm believers in progress, the constant exploration and stretching of boundaries. For Urquiola, the freedom to pull at the limits was a particularly attractive element of the design collaboration with BMW Welt and BMW Group Design.

“I liked the idea of applying a fresh technique to create what you might call new territory within the space. So, I used these filters in the metal mass to incorporate a kind of movement. It was a totally new and exciting way of thinking about a space for me,” explains Urquiola.

This leftfield approach also impressed Adrian van Hooydonk when he first saw Urquiola’s initial drafts. Urquiola used her surface design to translate, extremely intuitively, the apparently fractured ice surface, green colour (which appears to change in tone against different lights) and Northern Lights from the photo shoot for the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe into a luxurious in-house installation. This freedom of thought, coupled with her creative talent, allows Urquiola to create spaces and environments that make way different perspectives. Indeed, Urquiola sees people and their needs as both driving forward and setting the pace of the design process – something else she has in common with BMW.

This is the second design collaboration between Urquiola and BMW Group Design (the first was in 2010), and again it aims to explore creativity together and challenge existing boundaries. Adrian van Hooydonk has no doubt as to the rewards of this latest project with Urquiola:

“What I admire about Patricia’s work is that she approaches design from a human perspective. She creates exquisite products and luxurious spaces – but always with a warm heart, a central thread of humanity and a personal narrative. I admire that because it’s something we also channel into our design processes at BMW Design. Patricia is, in my view, not only a fantastic person, she’s also an outstanding partner to work with on creative projects and one who I value highly.”

The creative joining of forces between BMW Group Design and Patricia Urquiola – and the mixture of premium materials and leading-edge technology involved – can now be experienced live at BMW Welt in Munich.

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