Five experts from the Design Development department use the power of photography and words to pick out the design elements that make the BMW iX3 special for them. And, in doing so, they also provide insight into their work.

Their challenge was to examine the car from all angles, take photos of favourite details and share expert insight. The participants, from left to right: Daniel Wechner (Project Lead BMW i Design), Birgit Bittermann (Photographer for BMW Design Identity and Media), Fabio Olivotti (Head of Design Identity, Media and Events), Panos Karras (BMW iX3 Exterior Designer), and Kai Langer (Head of BMW i Design). Here is what they had to say.

Image of Birgit Bittermann, Panos Karras, Kai Langer, Fabio Olivotti and Daniel Wechner.

Daniel Wechner: “As a designer, you rarely have the opportunity to sit and look at a finished car without being rushed or have the leisure to absorb the overall result prior to the launch. There’s usually not enough time. You’ve handled the internal presentations and supervised the implementation of the final optimisations. The press showcase is usually about explaining why the car looks the way it does. And then it’s straight on to the next project.”

Fabio Olivotti: “There’s usually quite a big time gap between the design creation and the launch. That means that it’s always important to have excellent pictures that show the car, because you can’t really get a good look at it when it’s driving on the road. Or standing in a parking lot, with a car in front and one behind. Under ordinary circumstances, it is nearly impossible to get a good view of the car from all sides, and that’s why it’s so special to see the BMW iX3 in this large space, with perfect lighting.”

Photo of Daniel Wechner.

Birgit Bittermann: “In this set-up we have other options than we have for documentary photography. Normally, I shoot each car from five different angles with the camera always the same distance away from the object. When I shoot close-ups, I make sure that you can tell immediately where the detail is, on the exterior or inside the vehicle. That means the surroundings are important. Documentation is more a manual task than a creative one. Here, I am able to push that to one side and concentrate exclusively on the lines, the surfaces and the light, on focus and blur. I am free to approach it with my own thoughts and feel what the designers visualized.”

Photo of the BMW iX3 wheel.

Panos Karras: “There are a few details in the BMW iX3 that clearly differentiate the electric car from the gasoline version. The closed kidney grilles catch the eye instantly, and this is quite a departure for a BMW X model. We decided to go with a very clean design for this car. The air vents above the wheels emphasize its very upright presence. It was exciting to design a new, signature BMW i rear detail for the BMW iX3 where the exhaust pipes of the combustion engine version would be. Another very crisp and clean detail is the aerodynamic trailing edge at the rear. These are all little things that were quite challenging in the design process because we wanted all models of the BMW i sub-brand to share a common design language. The X3 was being designed at the same time, so it was a constant process of change and fine-tuning; no sketch made it to the final version because we were continually modifying.”

Photo of Panos Karras.

Kai Langer: “There were several projects running simultaneously within the same model series. First there was the iX3, a purely electric vehicle. At the same time, we were also working on a combustion engine version, the X3 with a highly efficient engine. Of course, this had to happen roughly in parallel so that we could clearly define the visual similarities and differences. As a customer, if you consciously choose one or the other model, you want to see the difference. My task was to make sure that all the design strategies harmonized fundamentally, but that the differences were pronounced; to highlight that our design here is very progressive, which is simply a fundamental part of the i.”

Photo of rim of BMW logo.

Daniel Wechner: “I had a lot of thoughts while taking pictures. As designers we are immersed in the different phases; first, in the pure design phase and then in the detail phase, where we try to coordinate all the lines. But it’s when you get close up that you see just how much love and attention to detail has gone into the process to make it look so smooth and clean. I also recalled just how much trouble we had with some details to get them to look exactly the way they do now. This very precise, very geometric rim, for example. The paint gives us an even more pronounced 3D-effect. This rim has a very good aerodynamic coefficient because it is flat. There is hardly any air turbulence inside it, and this is what makes it so efficient. At the same time, the angle of the inlays still provides sufficient cooling power for the brakes.”

 Photo of Birgit Bittermann, Fabio Olivotti, and Daniel Wechner

Fabio Olivotti: “We distilled everything the designers had in mind for the BMW iX3, packaged it into messages and documented it photographically so that we could describe the design. My team, which also includes Birgit Bittermann, works closely with the BMW Press and Marketing teams for all cars created by BMW Design. We want to communicate the design development team’s vision directly to the people who are then in charge of handling external communication. We share with them the insight gained over the course of countless meetings."

Photo of BMW iX3 wheel design detail.

"With the BMW iX3, we even had a concept car where we could demonstrate what we wanted to do. This is a luxury that isn't always available. Usually we work with virtual representations, films and photographs of the car. My team also provides concept cars for the markets; these are the first design studies of the new models. Two thirds of these vehicles, which have already had their world premiere somewhere else, are still in use in other parts of the world or are on display in the BMW museum. BMW Group Design has built more than 80 concept cars in the past 15 years, and a very large proportion of these are still on tour.”

Photo of design detail of the new BMW iX3.

Kai Langer: “Your work is such a great help for us. If so many of the 80 vehicles that have been built in the last 15 years are still in use, then you can imagine how often there is a concept car somewhere that people are asking questions about. It is brilliant that we know we can rely on colleagues who provide highly professional communication – which is not something designers can automatically do. We also have to design the next generation of new cars while we’re taking care of all this…”

Photo of design detail of the new BMW iX3.

Birgit Bittermann: “I love the details in the typical Phytonic Blue, the borders and transitions. For me, this gives the BMW iX3 a unique identity. Focusing on all these blue lines has made me realize what a strong statement this color is. It adds such incredible recognition value.”

Panos Karras: “And that's no easy task. We are in constant dialog with the engineers. It is very challenging to design things so that all boxes are ticked and all requirements are met. We have the digital version of the vehicle on our screen for years. And then, when you finally see it – like the very first BMW iX3 here – in the studio or in real life, it’s a highly emotional, very special situation.”

Share this article