BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec says “it’s not our goal to please everyone” regarding brand’s direction

BMW’s recent vehicle designs have been a hot topic among casual observers and enthusiasts, with most of the attention focused on the brand’s iconic kidney grilles, which have certainly grown in size. We’ve already seen examples of this with the latest G22 BMW 4 Series, and before that, there was the G11/G12 7 Series LCI and G07 X7.

The German carmaker is certainly aware of the public’s comments about its design direction, which are abundant on social media and other mediums, and they know that it isn’t all positive. However, BMW also knows that its chosen path will not please everyone.

This was revealed by Domagoj Dukec – who has been leading the BMW Design team since April 2019 – in an interview with Top Gear, who said, “I’m reading social media and press, and I can see that some people are wondering where BMW is heading, but I can assure you that we have a clear vision about where we’re going. We all love the brand.”

Dukec goes on the say that he has been in the business of car design for over 20 years and understands that one thing’s for sure: everyone has an opinion. “That’s normal. If you want to create something that stands out, it must be distinguished and it has to be different,” he noted.

“You can create something beautiful, and we also have cars which are just pretty. But there are some customers that, if you want to reach them, you have to stand out. You have to create something that is not in line; maybe not like an everyday car or an everyday product, but that’s exactly the reason,” explained Dukec.

Looking back at BMW’s heritage, Dukec pointed out that during the Chris Bangle era, some of brand’s models – like the E60 5 Series – were criticised for the way they looked at the time, but are now remembered fondly. As such, a break from tradition is something that is familiar to BMW.

“Now, this is a special time. It is different and distinguished, [the new cars], I think this is something we are used to. It is not our goal to please everyone in the world. You can’t make a design which pleases everyone. But you have to please your customers,” he said.

Yes, customers are the ones that actually make BMW money, and according to Dukec, he reckons that 70% of its buyers are “elegant creators,” or “successful businesspeople” who want something discreet yet capable. For these buyers, there’s BMW’s core models like the 3, 5 and 7 Series. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% are “expressive performers” that are described as buyers who are “self-confident” and attracted to models like the Z4 and 8 Series, for example.

“Not all our products get the same critics. You can see that on something as polarising like the kidneys on the 4 Series, 20% of people are liking it. That fits to the type of customers we are targeting,” Dukec said, in relation to the above. “Not all customers are going for the 4 Series,” he added. So, if you’re aren’t pleased with the grille on the latest 4 Series, BMW thinks it’s unlikely that you’ll be a prospective buyer.

“It’s impossible to create something where everybody will cheer and say ‘this is the most beautiful car in the world’,” Dukec noted. To chime in, BMW group design director Adrian van Hooydonk said, “it’s really fantastic [if you have fans]. It means you have people that not just buy your products, but love what you do. Of course, if they love what you do, the minute you change it, they might have an issue with it. It comes with the territory.”

“In 2021, we are making design decisions for products that will come into the market in 2024. And those will then remain in the market for seven or eight years, so beyond 2030. How will customers react in so many years from now?,” van Hooydonk continued.

“We don’t know. What we do know is that if we don’t move, we become a sitting duck. I guess the name of the game is to move enough so that the company thrives in the future, but not so much you lose contact with your fan base altogether,” he added.

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