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Chris Bangle: "If you can dance then it's design"

Chris Bangle one of the best known and most respected car designers in the world. He revolutionized the lines of BMW and now continues to innovate in the most diverse sectors, including technology, operating from his home in the province of Cuneo

Chris Bangle one of the best known and most respected car designers in the world. It has revolutionized the lines of BMW and now continues to innovate in the most diverse sectors, including in technology, operating from its home in the province of Cuneo to its study, its poster and a place where the brightest minds in the world can be found for give life to objects that solve problems and give emotions, because this is the task that design should have, even if

by Francesco Marino / Photo by QGPhoto

At Borgata Gorrea you arrive with a steep and narrow road; you have to cross the Langa, go through the lands of Barolo, turn on the bends that surround the hill. When you reach the top, a world opens up: that of Chris Bangle, who has his home here, his studio, his experimental laboratory and an international center where they come to work (and live) for short periods the most talented designers. Bangle was the head of BMW design from 1992 to 2009: he who changed the lines of the German company, designing models destined to revolutionize the history of the brand and of the entire sector, such as X3, X5, Z4. First he worked for several years at Fiat; she was a promising young designer and, under the guidance of Ermanno Cressoni, who had become the first responsible for exterior design, then head of the entire Fiat Style Center. its the Fiat Coup, for example. For five years he has lived in Borgata Gorrea, in the south-western Langa, where he created the Chris Bangle Associates, a structure that deals with design in various sectors (not only the automotive one), from technology to landscape. The best professionals, for short periods of intense work, move to his home-studio to carry out the projects in which they are involved. a living environment, full of creative spaces, laboratories in which to build prototypes; in every corner there is a surprise, all designed to give freedom and stimulation. To get to the third floor of the house there is a staircase made from a metal pipe cut in half, inside which wooden steps have been inserted. I tried so many shapes, but that of the recycled and cut tube was undoubtedly the best, explains Bangle. So all Borgata Gorrea: a place full of ideas that take the form of objects, like the round ping-pong table. "Every time we play we change the rules," Bangle says, "because everyone sees it in its own way."


When my wife and I got married we were in Turin (I was working at FIAT then) and we lived there for the first seven years of our marriage. As all married people know, the first seven years are very important. If you pass this period, then you have a good chance of surviving everything else (we celebrated 30 years of marriage). The Turin period has been very important and has given us strength as a couple: I have made a career, born our son, we have learned a new language together. Later, when we moved to Germany, when they asked where we are from, we answered, I am an American, she is Swiss, but we are Italians. It was taken for granted that we would return to Italy, to an area not far from Turin and, after five years of research, we found this place. In Borgata Gorrea everything takes on a new form, indeed, a new thought. Before meeting Bangle the recurring question was: But who is a designer? What does it actually do? After knowing it, it's easy to answer: the designer is a person who manages to put a thought into an object. In his home-studio everything thought. Bangle has even designed the slats that cover the garage door, because he wanted a different angle of incidence in the tables, to make the water flow better, he says. The installation was then entrusted to skilled local artisans, who were able to find the best alignment of those sharp diagonal lines. In this small episode the philosophy of Bangle for design is collected: a rigorous design, which solves a problem, then put into practice by skilled craftsmen, able to add, with their experience and capacity, something more in the moment of its realization . One of the things I learned in my career that you have to be able to let go explains Bangle. One of the biggest flaws of current products that, once their design is decided, everything is fixed, crystallized and from that moment on, a monolith and no longer receives anything from people. Engineers are no longer listened to, who has to produce it, nor who should use it. Instead, the designer should welcome into his object the stimuli that arrive even after drawing it. This is a great loss for the product and the economy.

Photo by QGPhoto

PERCH – Because the use of technology (which is wonderful) involves the work of fewer people. In the past it would be like this: the capacity to produce grew in proportion to the number of human resources employed, then the new tools we introduced have broken this continuity. If few are able to support the entire implementation process, what will others do? Will they just have to consume? Some time ago I visited a museum of beautiful vintage cars and I noticed that some had round exhaust pipes, other squares, some had a round one and a square one. I asked why and they explained to me that when the muffler made her a certain Giovanni preferred to make it round, when he made it Mario made it square. This is not a defect, but a richness: if we are able to give value to the changes introduced into an object by individuals, then everyone will be able to contribute to giving new value to products and many more people will have a role in the economy system. a great challenge, but what should make designers ask themselves important questions and find answers.

THEREFORE, THE DESIGNER A PERSON WHO SOLVED PROBLEMS? S: if he does not solve problems he makes art, not design. This at least the theory. In reality designers are problem creators. With their drawings they seem to say: Hey, engineer! Try to accomplish this, if you are capable !. Or they are transformers. How to make a phone call through a thin sheet of metal and plastic a problem that is solved by the engineers. the task of the designer, instead, to transform the problem into But how on earth do we make a milled aluminum housing with a front curve covered in glass without joints or welds ?. Furthermore, it is often said that design is the meaning and that it is the designer's task to bring this meaning to light, through form and graphics, with all those functions that have not already been established (for example, by the suppliers of the components that will form the product). Unfortunately, the sense with which the designer has to grapple today is the one contained in the product brand. Bring to life the profound meaning of things. This should be the design. All for me car design, even if it doesn't have four wheels, because nothing like a car that must be efficient, beautiful and must convey emotions, explains Bangle. Designers must understand so deeply what they have achieved that they become that thing, to be that design. They must be able to dance, express the idea and emotion that that product is dancing. If you can dance, then design.

Photo by QGPhoto