In an era marked by rapid technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences, the realm of automotive design is undergoing a profound transformation. Julia de Bono, CEO of Designworks LA, a BMW design studio, offers her insights into the evolving face of auto design and explores the changing role of the automobile in our lives.

The BMW Grille: A Timeline of Evolution

BMW's iconic kidney grille has undergone a significant evolution over the decades, reflecting the company's design philosophy and technological advancements. De Bono traces the grille's journey through a series of key milestones:

  • 1916: The first BMW grille featured slender, vertical bars.
  • 1933: The grille "sprouted" into two distinct kidney shapes, becoming a recognizable BMW signature.
  • 1958: The grille was enlarged and tilted back, emphasizing power and performance.
  • 1974: The "shark nose" grille introduced a more aerodynamic and aggressive look.
  • 1989: The grille became more angular, reflecting the sharp lines of BMW's design language.
  • 2002: The grille grew taller and wider, symbolizing BMW's technological advancements.
  • 2015: The grille took on a more three-dimensional form, incorporating LED lighting.
  • 2020: The latest BMW grille design, as seen on models like the 4 Series, is characterized by its expansive size and bold presence.

The Changing Role of the Automobile

Beyond the aesthetic evolution, De Bono discusses the changing role of the automobile in our modern society. She highlights the growing importance of mobility and connectivity, as well as the emergence of new transportation concepts.

  • Mobility: The automobile is no longer solely a means of transportation but a platform for mobility solutions. Ride-sharing, car-pooling, and autonomous vehicles are changing the way we use and share cars.
  • Connectivity: Vehicles are becoming increasingly connected to the digital world, offering seamless integration with smartphones, infotainment systems, and cloud-based services.
  • Sustainability: Environmental concerns are driving the development of electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as the use of sustainable materials in car design.
  • Personalization: Consumers are demanding personalized experiences, leading to a rise in customizable and tailored vehicles that reflect their individual tastes and preferences.

The Future of Automotive Design

De Bono envisions a future where automotive design is driven by innovation, technology, and the evolving needs of society. She outlines several key trends that will shape the design of cars in the coming years:

  • Autonomous Driving: As autonomous vehicles become more prevalent, design will focus on creating comfortable, spacious, and interactive interiors that enhance the user experience.
  • Electric Mobility: The shift towards electric vehicles will present new design challenges, requiring the integration of battery packs and electric motors into the overall vehicle aesthetics.
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI-powered systems will play a significant role in automotive design, enabling personalized experiences, predictive maintenance, and enhanced safety.
  • Sustainability: Environmental consciousness will continue to drive sustainable design practices and the use of recycled and eco-friendly materials.

Designworks LA: A Pioneer in Automotive Innovation

As a leading automotive design studio, Designworks LA has been at the forefront of the industry's evolution. De Bono highlights the studio's unique approach to design, which combines research, collaboration, and a focus on human-centered solutions.

  • Human-Centered Design: Designworks LA emphasizes understanding the needs, desires, and experiences of drivers and passengers.
  • Collaboration: The studio fosters collaboration between designers, engineers, and other experts to bring innovative and holistic design solutions to life.
  • Global Perspective: With studios located around the world, Designworks LA draws inspiration from diverse cultures and global trends.


Julia de Bono's insights provide a glimpse into the ever-changing landscape of automotive design. As technology, consumer preferences, and societal needs evolve, the automobile continues to transform, presenting both challenges and opportunities for designers. By embracing innovation, collaboration, and a human-centered approach, Designworks LA and other leading design studios are shaping the future of automotive experiences.

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