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Bangle Bails on BMW

by on Feb.03, 2009

Chris Bangle with the dramatic -- and controversial -- 2002 BMW 7-Series

Chris Bangle speaks his mind at Geneva Motor Show

“It’s all about design.” As an automotive journalist, you hear that phrase a lot, especially at auto shows and new product previews, whether you’re looking at the latest luxury car or something more basic. Yet, by and large, designers are a relatively anonymous lot, with only the rare Harley Earl gaining a place in the collective consciousness.

Chris Bangle is another name that has risen beyond the automotive headlines. After all, how many other designers have earned profiles on network TV – CBS Sunday Morning, for one – or been the motivation behind a popular online fan site. Make that anti-fans, if you prefer, for there were several online efforts to force Bangle out as global head of styling at BMW after the automaker launched a controversial remake of its flagship 7-Series sedan, early in the decade.

Ultimately – and ironically – that car’s most distinctive design, known to many as the “Bangle-butt,” has become more the norm than the exception in the luxury market, these days. And with the launch of yet another remake of the 7-er, for 2009, Bangle and his team have largely won over even the harshest skeptics.

And so, it might seem, a good time to move on – as Bangle is doing. In something of a surprise, the youthful 52-year-old stylist tendered his resignation as head of design for the BMW Group, this morning, Munich time. According to a statement, he’ll be pursuing “other design challenges” beyond the automotive industry.

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