'Brutal' Criticism Won't Stop BMW's Currently Styling Direction, Design Boss Says

BMW's design chief Domagoj Dukec is well aware of the negative reception to the whole big grille thing, but it won't change the company's approach
'Brutal' Criticism Won't Stop BMW's Currently Styling Direction, Design Boss Says

It’s difficult not to talk about BMW‘s current line-up without broaching that dreaded subject: kidney grilles. They’d been growing gradually over the years anyway, and then the most recent 7-series and 4-series came along to enlarge the styling feature to epic proportions.

Understandably, not everyone is keen. This isn’t lost on BMW design boss Domagoj Dukec, who told Car Throttle sister publication Auto Express that he was “not surprised” by the mixed reaction. Senior vice president of design Adrian van Hooydonk meanwhile described some of the social media commentary aimed at some BMW styling elements as “brutal”.

'Brutal' Criticism Won't Stop BMW's Currently Styling Direction, Design Boss Says

Dukec remains undeterred, however. “For some customers, if you want to reach them, you have to stand out,” he said, adding, “But you can’t make a design that pleases everyone.”

According to Dukec, the flak BMW has come under for its gigantic grilles won’t make it change course. “We will showcase BMW as a progressive and pioneering brand that will always try to combine some sort of paradigm - such as sportiness and elegance,” he said.

Van Hooydonk also pointed out that those complaining about the cars aren’t necessarily buyers, but regardless, the feedback is taken into account. “We look and analyse the data, where does it come from? Is it loved? Which market did it come from? Social media is analysed as well, but we don’t know if there are real customers behind those comments but we know they are real voices so we listen,” he said.

'Brutal' Criticism Won't Stop BMW's Currently Styling Direction, Design Boss Says

Dukec and van Hooydonk are the latest in a growing group of BMW execs to have tackled the subject of the company’s controversial styling treatments. A few months ago, head of exterior design Christopher Weil said that he was OK with buyers customising the looks of the 4-series, including the kidney grilles.

He told Car Advice that the justification for the 4-series’ bold looks was down to wanting to make the car “more expressive, more progressive and also more elegant than the 3-series.”



This whole approach is all fine and good…if they would be a small niche car producer but they’re one of the major luxury car brands. Now they just want to appeal to “progressive” customers(I don’t see how this is classified as progressive nor elegant&sporty)?! It seems like they picked an awfully small target group for their future cars

02/03/2021 - 14:03 |
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Ben Anderson 1

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

They did it for the Chinese. Chinese love big, ostentatious grilles. However the Chinese car market has plummeted in recent years, and the Chinese massively prefer Audi, Buick and Land Rover over BMW, so the company have sunk a shit tonne of money into the new China-friendly styling and now need to pay that investment off instead of wasting more money on more design work to fix it for their core and secondary markets of Europe and North America (respectively).

02/03/2021 - 20:10 |
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Maybe sales numbers will fix them

02/03/2021 - 23:27 |
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If this is elegance, I’m Grace Kelly

02/05/2021 - 06:10 |
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“For some customers, if you want to reach them, you have to stand out”
Well, when the designer and creator of the first BMW SUV just looks at it and goes: ‘eeeeah, mmmphmm, eaaaaaahmm, yeah, this is a tough one’… Then he said: ‘Stay with the language you have and don’t ever try to change it, everything has to modernize itself in a certain way’ its because there’s something.
Then this:
“But you can’t make a design that pleases everyone.”
And like 80% of the rest of the world, BMW fans, car enthusiasts were like: really? why? the big grille meme became real and aftermarket brands already have better and well suited replacements, they’re going to have a bad time trying to explain how they messed up in the coming years.

02/05/2021 - 19:21 |
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Porsche 959 (CarThrottle's only Facel Vega fanboy, still act

I never thought I’d say it, but they need to hire Chris Bangle again.

02/05/2021 - 20:51 |
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The yellow car looks great but for the SUV it just does not work out, it looks plump and ugly. But i like that BMW tries something new, since most cars look almost identical to each other nowadays, if you removed the Logo non-enhusiasts would probably misidentify most brands . I’ll never afford a new BMW anyway except maybe when im 60 so what does it matter. For context: I live in denmark, a BMW costs as much as a house and really why would anyone waste that much money on something as annoying as a car that you only get to drive slowly in traffic and will only get into if you absolutely have to.

02/07/2021 - 14:45 |
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Lewis Goodwill

He says that it’s not customers who are complaining the most and while that is partially true it deters potential future customers from the brand, I used to love new BMWs but after this it just puts me off the brand and the cars are hideous it’s not bold it’s just rubbish

03/05/2021 - 19:01 |
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