Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Translator: Jenny Zurawell

  • What I want to talk about is, as background,

  • is the idea that cars are art.

  • This is actually quite meaningful to me,

  • because car designers tend to be a little bit low on the totem pole --

  • we don't do coffee table books with just one lamp inside of it --

  • and cars are thought so much as a product

  • that it's a little bit difficult to get into the aesthetic side

  • under the same sort of terminology that one would discuss art.

  • And so cars, as art, brings it into an emotional plane -- if you accept that --

  • that you have to deal with on the same level you would with art with a capital A.

  • Now at this point you're going to see a picture of Michelangelo.

  • This is completely different than automobiles.

  • Automobiles are self-moving things, right? Elevators are automobiles.

  • And they're not very emotional; they solve a purpose;

  • and certainly automobiles have been around for 100 years

  • and have made our lives functionally a lot better in many ways;

  • they've also been a real pain in the ass,

  • because automobiles are really the thing we have to solve.

  • We have to solve the pollution, we have to solve the congestion --

  • but that's not what interests me in this speech.

  • What interests me in this speech is cars. Automobiles may be what you use,

  • but cars are what we are, in many ways.

  • And as long as we can solve the problems of automobiles,

  • and I believe we can, with fuel cells or hydrogen, like BMW is really hip on,

  • and lots of other things, then I think we can look past that

  • and try and understand why this hook is in many of us --

  • of this car-y-ness -- and what that means, what we can learn from it.

  • That's what I want to get to. Cars are not a suit of clothes;

  • cars are an avatar. Cars are an expansion of yourself:

  • they take your thoughts, your ideas, your emotions, and they multiply it --

  • your anger, whatever. It's an avatar.

  • It's a super-waldo that you happen to be inside of, and if you feel sexy,

  • the car is sexy. And if you're full of road rage,

  • you've got a "Chevy: Like a Rock," right?

  • Cars are a sculpture -- did you know this?

  • That every car you see out there is sculpted by hand.

  • Many people think, "Well, it's computers,

  • and it's done by machines and stuff like that."

  • Well, they reproduce it, but the originals are all done by hand.

  • It's done by men and women who believe a lot in their craft.

  • And they put that same kind of tension into the sculpting of a car

  • that you do in a great sculpture that you would go and look at in a museum.

  • That tension between the need to express, the need to discover,

  • then you put something new into it,

  • and at the same time you have bounds of craftsmanship.

  • Rules that say, this is how you handle surfaces;

  • this is what control is all about; this is how you show you're a master of your craft.

  • And that tension, that discovery, that push for something new --

  • and at the same time, that sense of obligation

  • to the regards of craftsmanship --

  • that's as strong in cars as it is in anything.

  • We work in clay, which hasn't changed much

  • since Michelangelo started screwing around with it,

  • and there's a very interesting analogy to that too.

  • Real quickly -- Michelangelo once said he's there to "discover the figure within," OK?

  • There we go, the automobile.

  • That was 100 years right there -- did you catch that?

  • Between that one there, and that one there, it changed a lot didn't it?

  • OK, it's not marketing; there's a very interesting car concept here,

  • but the marketing part is not what I want to talk about here.

  • I want to talk about this.

  • Why it means you have to wash a car, what is it, that sensuality

  • you have to touch about it? That's the sculpture that goes into it. That sensuality.

  • And it's done by men and women working just like this, making cars.

  • Now this little quote about sculpture from Henry Moore,

  • I believe that that "pressure within" that Moore's talking about --

  • at least when it comes to cars --

  • comes right back to this idea of the mean.

  • It's that will to live, that need to survive, to express itself,

  • that comes in a car, and takes over people like me.

  • And we tell other people, "Do this, do this, do this," until this thing comes alive.

  • We are completely infected. And beauty can be the result

  • of this infectiousness; it's quite wonderful.

  • This sculpture is, of course, at the heart of all of it,

  • and it's really what puts the craftsmanship into our cars.

  • And it's not a whole lot different, really, when they're working like this,

  • or when somebody works like this.

  • It's that same kind of commitment, that same kind of beauty.

  • Now, now I get to the point. I want to talk about cars as art.

  • Art, in the Platonic sense, is truth; it's beauty, and love.

  • Now this is really where designers in car business diverge from the engineers.

  • We don't really have a problem talking about love.

  • We don't have a problem talking about truth or beauty in that sense.

  • That's what we're searching for --

  • when we're working our craft, we are really trying to find that truth out there.

  • We're not trying to find vanity and beauty.

  • We're trying to find the beauty in the truth.

  • However, engineers tend to look at things a little bit more Newtonian,

  • instead of this quantum approach.

  • We're dealing with irrationalisms,

  • and we're dealing with paradoxes that we admit exist,

  • and the engineers tend to look things a little bit more like

  • two and two is four, and if you get 4.0 it's better, and 4.000 is even better.

  • And that sometimes leads to bit of a divergence

  • in why we're doing what we're doing.

  • We've pretty much accepted the fact, though,

  • that we are the women in the organization at BMW --

  • BMW is a very manly type business, -- men, men, men; it's engineers.

  • And we're kind of the female side to that. That's OK,

  • that's cool. You go off and be manly. We're going to be a little bit more female.

  • Because what we're interested in is finding form that's more than just a function.

  • We're interested in finding beauty that's more than just an aesthetic;

  • it's really a truth.

  • And I think this idea of soul, as being at the heart of great cars,

  • is very applicable. You all know it. You know a car when you've seen it,

  • with soul. You know how strong this is.

  • Well, this experience of love, and the experience of design, to me,

  • are interchangeable. And now I'm coming to my story.

  • I discovered something about love and design through a project called Deep Blue.

  • And first of all, you have to go with me for a second, and say,

  • you know, you could take the word "love" out of a lot of things in our society,

  • put the word "design" in, and it still works,

  • like this quote here, you know. It kind of works, you know?

  • You can understand that. It works in truisms.

  • "All is fair in design and war."

  • Certainly we live in a competitive society.

  • I think this one here, there's a pop song

  • that really describes Philippe Starck for me, you know, this is like

  • you know, this is like puppy love, you know, this is cool right?

  • Toothbrush, cool.

  • It really only gets serious when you look at something like this. OK?

  • (Laughter)

  • This is one substitution that I believe

  • all of us, in design management, are guilty of.

  • And this idea that there is more to love,

  • more to design, when it gets down to your neighbor, your other,

  • it can be physical like this, and maybe in the future it will be.

  • But right now it's in dealing with our own people,

  • our own teams who are doing the creating. So, to my story.

  • The idea of people-work is what we work with here,

  • and I have to make a bond with my designers when we're creating BMWs.

  • We have to have a shared intimacy, a shared vision --

  • that means we have to work as one family;

  • we have to understand ourselves that way.

  • There's good times; there's interesting times;

  • and there's some stress times too.

  • You want to do cars, you've got to go outside.

  • You've got to do cars in the rain; you've got to do cars in the snow.

  • That's, by the way, is a presentation we made to our board of directors.

  • We haul their butts out in the snow, too. You want to know cars outside?

  • Well, you've got to stand outside to do this.

  • And because these are artists, they have very artistic temperaments.

  • All right? Now one thing about art is, art is discovery,

  • and art is discovering yourself through your art. Right?

  • And one thing about cars is we're all a little bit like Pygmalion,

  • we are completely in love with our own creations.

  • This is one of my favorite paintings, it really describes our relationship with cars.

  • This is sick beyond belief.

  • (Laughter)

  • But because of this, the intimacy with which we work together as a team

  • takes on a new dimension, a new meaning.

  • We have a shared center; we have a shared focus --

  • that car stays at the middle of all our relationships.

  • And it's my job, in the competitive process, to narrow this down.

  • I heard today about Joseph's death genes

  • that have to go in and kill cell reproduction.

  • You know, that's what I have to do sometimes.

  • We start out with 10 cars; we narrow it down to five cars,

  • down to three cars, down to two cars, down to one car,

  • and I'm in the middle of that killing, basically.

  • Someone's love, someone's baby.

  • This is very difficult, and you have to have a bond with your team

  • that permits you to do this, because their life is wrapped up in that too.

  • They've got that gene infected in them as well,

  • and they want that to live, more than anything else.

  • Well, this project, Deep Blue, put me in contact with my team

  • in a way that I never expected, and I want to pass it on to you,

  • because I want you to reflect on this, perhaps in your own relationships.

  • We wanted to a do a car which was a complete leap of faith for BMW.

  • We wanted to do a team which was so removed from the way we'd done it,

  • that I only had a phone number that connected me to them.

  • So, what we did was: instead of having a staff of artists that are just your wrist,

  • we decided to free up a team of creative designers and engineers

  • to find out what's the successor to the SUV phenomenon in America.

  • This is 1996 we did this project. And so we sent them off with this team name,

  • Deep Blue. Now many people know Deep Blue from IBM --

  • we actually stole it from them because we figured

  • if anybody read our faxes they'd think we're talking about computers.

  • It turned out it was quite clever because Deep Blue,

  • in a company like BMW, has a hook -- "Deep Blue," wow, cool name.

  • So people get wrapped up in it. And we took a team of designers,

  • and we sent them off to America. And we gave them a budget,

  • what we thought was a set of deliverables,

  • a timetable, and nothing else.

  • Like I said, I just had a phone number that connected me to them.

  • And a group of engineers worked in Germany,

  • and the idea was they would work separately

  • on this problem of what's the successor to the SUV.

  • They would come together, compare notes. Then they would work apart,

  • come together, and they would produce together

  • a monumental set of diverse opinions that didn't pollute each other's ideas --

  • but at the same time came together and resolved the problems.

  • Hopefully, really understand the customer at its heart,

  • where the customer is, live with them in America. So -- sent the team off,

  • and actually something different happened. They went other places.

  • (Laughter)

  • They disappeared, quite honestly, and all I got was postcards.

  • Now, I got some postcards of these guys in Las Vegas,

  • and I got some postcards of these guys in the Grand Canyon,

  • and I got these postcards of Niagara Falls,

  • and pretty soon they're in New York, and I don't know where else.

  • And I'm telling myself, "This is going to be a great car,

  • they're doing research that I've never even thought about before."

  • Right? And they decided that instead of, like, having a studio,

  • and six or seven apartments,

  • it was cheaper to rent Elizabeth Taylor's ex-house in Malibu.

  • And -- at least they told me it was her house,

  • I guess it was at one time, she had a party there or something.

  • But anyway, this was the house, and they all lived there.

  • Now this is 24/7 living, half-a-dozen people who'd left their --

  • some had left their wives behind and families behind,

  • and they literally lived in this house

  • for the entire six months the project was in America,

  • but the first three months were the most intensive.

  • And one of the young women in the project,

  • she was a fantastic lady, she actually built her room in the bathroom.

  • The bathroom was so big, she built the bed over the bathtub --

  • it's quite fascinating.

  • On the other hand, I didn't know anything about this. OK?

  • Nothing. This is all going on, and all I'm getting is postcards

  • of these guys in Las Vegas, or whatever,

  • saying, "Don't worry Chris, this is really going to be good." OK?

  • So my concept of what a design studio was probably --

  • I wasn't up to speed on where these guys were.

  • However, the engineers back in Munich

  • had taken on this kind of Newtonian solution,

  • and they were trying to find how many cup holders

  • can dance on the head of a pin, and, you know,

  • these really serious questions that are confronting the modern consumer.

  • And one was hoping that these two teams would get together,

  • and this collusion of incredible creativity,

  • under these incredible surroundings,

  • and these incredibly stressed-out engineers,

  • would create some incredible solutions.