Submitted by Marin Myftiu, BMW 55 ET is a concept study proposal for BMW. The main design wants to go back to basic instead of pursuing futuristic style. You can read his explanation about this project in his own words.
What made classic BMWs look special? Is it ‘the kidney grille’… or is it that awkwardly bent rear ‘C’ pillar, maybe that is the holy grail of BMW essence…of course I am kidding, the essence of any human design is not really in mannerism, and the legendary BMW “kidney” grille has, in the last decades, turned into that; a superfluous, rigid constraint which no amount of good (or bad) design can overcome.
It becomes quite hard and restrictive if you must use another element, which always has to be a certain size and/or have a certain ratio. It literally adds another constraint to your system and this is what BMW did in the early 2000s by canonizing the “kidney grille” as a separate element in its design; not an ornament, not a real intake grille. Look at any other global brand over a certain period and you will see how much the design changes while only staying faithful to their logo.
The adoption of such element was positive and improved the looks of the cars in the late 20th century; when everyone has a square grille and body panels, such focal element becomes distinctive. On the other hand, when you have almost unlimited design freedom and everyone is expressing themselves, having ‘an extra feature’ to always include will hold back your expression and make all your designs look similar,…and this is basically what has been happening the last 20 years or so.
Back to basics
What really set BMW apart, especially in the 1970’s & 1980’s was adopting a V-shaped bonnet and a forward-staggered profile of the nose, period. While almost every other design had an uninspiring flat front, the arrow-shaped BMW designs were more aggressive and fresh…and this is where it all starts for the 55ET design..
The first sketches were about reducing the car to a monolith that shows only the most basic relevant geometry, some sort of essential sculpture, a ‘brain image’ of a BMW without those rigid ‘DNA’ elements. From that V-shaped, front-pointing bonnet it was then the turn of the ‘kidney grille’ which was promptly thrown away, not only because I wanted to give priority to an EV development but because you probably don’t need it to make a BMW look like a BMW, at least in theory. The front bumper thing that replaces the grille though is symmetrically split to offer that DNA boat-hull edge geometry which is missing from today’s puppy-faced, smooth designs.
Tags and Lines
If THOR is not the God of Hammers, can BMW, NOT be the Car with the ‘KIDNEY GRILLE’?
“Once upon a time, there was the original Kidney Grille’. It fully served its purpose of ventilation and set the car apart; if Jaguar had a single, oval grille, BMW had two, we all know Two is better than One”
As times changed, like many other makes, BMW tried to move away from that traditional grille and embrace the future, sometimes removing it altogether (above) and other times altering it to fit the new geometry of more modern cars (right).
Probably because there were still many competitors using a split, symmetrical grille, BMW ended up turning the original ‘kidney’ grille into an ornament, like a second badge to complement the front and make their cars more distinguishable.
Everything works well for a while but in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the ‘kidney grille’ is already, no longer a ‘kidney grille’, with the element squished and squared off to reflect the design trends of the time, it really shows its age and rigidity.
Finally, during the 2000s and onwards, the symmetrical-potato-thing emblem starts weighting more with its rigidity and superfluousness. This is not an issue of the element itself but more of the way it was canonized and frozen into the BMW design language and not given the chance to evolve and develop into something different; Suddenly you have an element that makes all your designs look similar and rigid, because you can’t remove it or transform it enough, can just make it stupidly huge for some reason. This is the design pit BMW finds itself today but did it have to be this way?
Designer: Marin Myftiu
Tuvie has received this project from our ‘Submit A Design‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their design/concept for publication.