BMW man drives Samsung's design team

Posted by Nermin Hajdarbegovic

A year ago a series of reports claiming that former BMW designer Chris Bangle joined Samsung sprung up all over the net, but the move was never confirmed and the entire episode was quickly forgotten. 

Although Bangle is still not talking about his actual role at Samsung, he does appear to have one, and he is now apparently some sort of design guru at the company. On the face of it, an ex-BMW designer sounds like a pretty good find for Samsung, but Bangle is a controversial designer to say the least.

In a recent Forbes interview, Bangle outlined his vision for driverless cars, Samsung’s innovative process and tech trends in general. He pointed out that Samsung has been making a strategic commitment to improving design and if the Galaxy Sx sales figures are anything to go by, and they are, the approach is working. He also concluded that autonomous cars might be huge, as they are practically “an inevitability”. 

However, there are quite a few challenges. Bangle pointed out that driverless cars are not the same thing as planes on autopilot and that quite a few kinks need to be ironed out before they hit the market. 

“The speed at which things can go wrong and the margin for error correction in a car is radically different from airplanes under most conditions, and the cross-cumulative effects of contextual disturbances means that car companies cannot really simulate everything in advance,” said Bangle. “Trying to get approved protocols for all possible accidents is an impossible task – so someone will be carrying some risk. I think that until that issue is solved autonomous cars will remain the “next big thing”, despite the fact practically all the technical issues are resolved.”

Now for some bad news. Bangle is more controversial than any car designer who has put pencil to paper over the last three decades. His tenure at BMW was especially controversial and simply bringing up Bangle’s name in a casual conversation with BMW fans is usually more than enough to start an argument. 

Bangle’s 7-series is often considered the ugliest BMW ever, and it even made the Time magazine list of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time. A fellow designer described Bangle’s BMW Z4 as something “designed with a machete”, but then again BMW never exactly distanced itself from Bangle’s design philosophy. 

What was Bangle’s response? Well, he acknowledged that his designs do not look good in photographs, and told critics that they should see the cars in real life before judging them on their looks. Since blind people don’t tend to buy cars, perhaps he could redesign some Samsung cameras to make vehicles look a little more appealing. Or, a cheaper approach to making Bangle’s 7-series look good in photos is to simply leave the lens cap on.