Apr 12, 2016
Designing an Icon: Inside and Out.
Functional and traditional versus playful and groundbreaking: they sound like mutually exclusive concepts. And, for most, they would be. But not at MINI. Indeed, it’s our ability to combine opposite forces to produce the perfect complement that sets us apart from the rest.
Just a glimpse of our MINI Hatch range proves, while you can’t go past an original, you can keep the essence of a good thing and make it even better. So, how do you go about inventing an icon like the MINI? According to our head honchos, it takes creativity, inventiveness, and respect – qualities that, naturally, our design teams possess in abundance.
Christopher Weil, Head of Exterior Design at MINI, is a firm believer in creating depth to a car’s design that strikes an emotional chord with the customer. “MINI is always a kind of friend. It’s not just a car, it’s a family member and is seen as that by our customers,” he says.
Christopher considers straddling the divide between the past and the future, and knowing how to blend the two, to be one of his greatest and most exciting design challenges. Creating a vehicle that exceeds the demands of twenty-first-century driving, while remaining true to the original, is no easy task. “The future approach of our cars is important to us. Heritage is an advantage to us, but we don’t want to make it a burden,” he says.
Of course, some things will never change, like the MINI DNA – low centre of gravity, short wheelbase, go-kart handling, eye-catching lines, distinguishing touches of chrome and, last but by no means least, our distinctive profile. “We want MINI to be recognisable at first glance, even in night view. If you drive behind a MINI, you should say, ‘Wow! That’s a MINI,’ and, therefore, we are always looking to that very iconic shape,” Christopher explains.
Meanwhile, Oliver Sieghart, Head of Interior Design at MINI, is focussed on ensuring what’s inside the MINI Hatch range is just as captivating as what is on the outside. Responsible for all the interior equipment and fittings – from the seats and steering wheel all the way through to the cockpit and doors – Oliver revels in the task of redefining an icon without compromising the familiar MINI character. And it’s important to him that every detail should reflect the uniqueness of the brand yet, at the same time, meet the functional brief. “It’s not a contradiction, being clean and precise and, on the other hand, playful, stylish and cool,” he says.
Oliver’s passion for technology – and integrating it flawlessly in the MINI experience – is easy to spot. “In the new MINI, we’ve introduced a high level of connectivity. We’ve thought about the seamless transition for devices; being connected from outside the car and then inside the car without any problems…just, ‘I’m in, I’m connected.’ That’s very important to us.”
As both Oliver and Christopher agree, the latest generation of MINIs is as unmistakably modern as the original. From the classic Hatch and convention-defying Countryman SUV, right through to the versatile Clubman and open-top convertible, every member of the MINI family is designed to cause a stir.