Pierre Leclercq: "I wanted the X6 to be the first SUV "coupé" in the world"…
At the Brussels Motor Show I also met Pierre Leclercq, the young Belgian BMW Designer who drew the exterior of the brand new X6 and also designed the facelift of the X5. Reason enough for a short talk…
Q: First of all let me congratulate you on the design of the X5 and X6. I understand you work as a member of a design team?
A: At BMW we have 25 designers responsible for exterior design, but we compete between each other for the (same) design projects, like for example the facelift of the X5, or the design of the X6, and one of us wins the project. So to answer your question, yes there is teamwork, but this gets personal in the end, as there remains only one person who finally draws the interior and one the exterior.
At the Brussels Motor Show, only the Hybrid version of the X6 was officially shown...
Q: What made you win the X6 project?
A: For the X6, there were many different proposals and designs concerning the shape and character of the roof line, and I wanted this car to look much more powerful and "muscular" than the X5.
So I gave it a roof line which approached the ‘coupé’ concept as much as possible. In this way, it is the first ‘coupé’ SUV in the world.
Q: Do you have an interest in art, in sculpture, painting, architecture?
A: Yes, photography is still my passion after design, and it is still an active hobby. I love making portraits, and indeed, for my work, architecture is also very interesting and I devote much attention to it.
Q: Which were your "dream" cars, your "voitures de rêve", before you became a designer?
A: I would not say that there is one specific car which inspired me. As a young boy I dreamt of course of Alfa’s and Ferrari’s, the Pinin Farina badge on the sides also triggered my imagination…
Q: Did cars like the Boano designed early Abarth 204A Berlinetta inspire you, with its high roof line, its tall sides, its curved rear end, the angled contours of its side windows? (the car is seen in action here above...)
A: The Italian designers of these days were the precursors of what is been done today, and of course, you are right, one can always find resemblances, many of these design themes and details are found back in our present cars, even if we design and draw these differently now. I have much respect for these designers, and the big name for me, the designer I admired most was Pinin Farina…
Look at the thin horizontal accent line, the tall sides, the big wheel arches, the slope of the roof, the lines of the X6 breathe a "classic" heritage, and are therefore of timeless "coupé" character
Q: When You design the future BMW’s, how do you discern (future) trends, shifting "spirits of the times"?
A: I would like to mention here that we work some 5 years in advance. Our designs are made some 60 months before the first cars roll of the production line. As a designer, we make different proposals, and it is for our design chief(s) to pick out the right ones and to make the good decisions…
Q: There will always be the typical BMW styling icons…
A: Indeed, the car will always have the distinct BMW grille with the double headlamp surroundings, the "Hofmeister Knick" or typical angle at the rear side window surround, amongst others. Our future cars will always remain instantly recognisable as BMW’s.
Q: Are the historic BMW’s a source of inspiration for You? One only has to think about the magnificent BMW Mille Miglia Coupé which was recently re-created as a concept car. (look further on this site…)
A: The history of our make is always important, but we will never make "retro-style" cars.
Our Director of BMW Group Design, Christopher Bangle, wants us to design truly modern cars, but also with the design heritage as one of the sources of inspiration…
I thank you for this interview.
Besides this interesting conversation with Pierre Leclercq, I conclude here with some further interesting information concerning the BMW Group Design activities.
Since march 2004, brand specific design studios have been set up for each of the three brands BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce as well as for the areas BMW Motorrad and BMW M. These new brand studios accompany the entire development process for new models from the first sketches to the start of production.
The heads of BMW group design studios...
With Christopher Bangle being the Director of BMW Group Design, the heads of the brand design studios of the BMW Group are as follows:
Adrian van Hooydonk, 40, has been a designer at BMW since 1992 and president of DesignworksUSA, the Californian design studio of the BMW Group, since 2001. The Dutch designer developed the exterior design of the current BMW 6 Series and 7 Series among other projects.
David Robb, 48, came to BMW as an exterior designer for automobiles and later headed the exterior design studio. In 1993 he took over as head of BMW Motorrad design.
BMW M and Individual:
Ulf Weidhase, 51, came to BMW in 1988 and has headed the design team for BMW M Automobiles and BMW Individual.
Gert Volker Hildebrand, 50, has headed the MINI design team since 2000. Before this appointment he headed design teams for Volkswagen, Seat and Mitsubishi.
Ian Cameron, 53, came to BMW in 1992 as an exterior designer and among other things was project manager for the design of the 3 Series and the current Range Rover. In 1999 he was appointed the head of the newly-created design team of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Pierre Leclerq: "The typical BMW styling icons will be present on every new design. "
"We want also out new cars to be immediately recognisable as true BMW"s...as the rear light of the X6 and the rear side window surround amply shows. "
"We pay attention to every details, down to such items like the exhausts, which also translate the BMW typical styling... "