Get In Depth With BMW’s i3 Designer
How many times have you been checking out the interior of the BMW i3 and come up with a list of questions like why or how? Maybe a question like “Was there a theme when designing the interior?”
Well, we can help answer those questions! Read the interview and product breakdown below with Car and Driver and Benoit Jacob, head of the design for BMW i products.
C/D: The i3 is built around carbon fiber. Why isn’t carbon fiber featured in the interior?
BJ: The purpose of the carbon fiber is structural, not design. We tried to use it in a very authentic manner. You do see it, for example, in the doorsills where it’s exposed structure. We wanted to remain authentic to the purpose of the material.
C/D: There is a sort of catch-all wood trough atop the dash that recalls earlier BMWs like the 2002. Was that intentional?
BJ: I’m very passionate about cars, and I believe there is no future without history. Sometimes, if there’s a way to echo the past a little bit—without any sort of retro design, because that’s absolutely not the point—why not? It just came by chance. But you mentioned the 2002, and I believe in the 1960s or even earlier that wood was used in a much more authentic manner. There was also a function: It was a board that held all your instruments. With the i3, instead of little bits of wood throughout the interior, we used only one piece. But it’s a really nice one, giving it a little bit of function where you can store a few things.
C/D: Was there an overall theme for the i3’s interior?
BJ: We were designing an electric car. And of course electric cars, with their batteries, are limited in range. I wanted the design department to understand and make its contribution to increasing the range. Sometimes those solutions are technology, but sometimes those solutions are people. What if the interior would inspire a more relaxed driving behavior? It’s Zen, in a way. From a higher design level, that was quite an interesting challenge.
C/D: Will these design elements filter into mainstream BMWs or BMW brands?
BJ: If we have the feeling that something out of i makes some sense to another brand, why not?