Designing the New BMW 7-Series

Sculpting clay on the 2009 BMW 7

Here’s an outstanding series of photos describing the design development for the new 2009 BMW 7-Series. It shows step by step from drawing to renderings and clay how the exterior and interior of the car have been refined. In particular there is a lot about the clay process, which is unique to automotive design. Even in this day and age of CAD and 3-D goggles, there’s nothing like seeing a car physically represented at full scale with masterfully crafted clay.

The BMW Group’s process of designing a new vehicle and finding the ideal shape is based on a concept of keen competition. In the development of each new model, several design teams compete with one another in their design of the exterior and interior in a truly creative contest. Made up of designers and modellers, the teams then, in the second phase of the design process, complete models in original, 1:1 size clearly showing the aesthetic harmony of the car’s proportions and surfaces. To do this they use a simple but very important material in the design process - clay.

I wasn’t a big fan of the last 7-Series (though the roof profile and side glass had great lines and proportion), but from the little you can see on this one it looks like the 2009 model could be very interesting and elegant.

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