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The Art of BMW

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London - April 10, 2006: Vehicle Design students at the Royal College of Art have produced remarkable artworks using Genuine BMW Parts.

The project, fusing engineering with art, offered the students a unique take on something many admitted to taking for granted: the components themselves.

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Joint 3RD Place Winners: DANIEL KAFKA – ‘1913’ (on left), JOHAN JOSSON AND SHINGO TAKEDA – ‘BMW Fossil’ (photos by Tom Fecht © 2006)

BMW UK Ltd approached the College with an unusual proposal – as BMW car design is often referred to as ‘art’ by its many admirers, the manufacturer wanted RCA design students to create artworks using the very parts that go into making their vehicles. The RCA’s reputation for producing the most innovative artists and designers attracted the German brand, and a competition was launched challenging students to create art using parts supplied by BMW.

After much deliberation, five conceptual designs were chosen from 14 entries by a panel of judges including David Ahmad and Patrick Giraud, tutors from the RCA and Kevin Rice, Senior Designer at BMW and the man responsible for the 1 Series; Wendy Harris, Parts Retention Manager at BMW and Carl Rogers, Creative Director at BMW’s PR agency Pinewood Media Group PMG. The successful students then set about realising their concepts with the help of technicians from the RCA’s Sculpture school.

It was an unusual exercise for students more used to designing the exteriors of vehicles. But it proved a valuable exercise: by being asked to focus on little-seen components and to translate them into creative forms the students gained a greater understanding of the design process.

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PHIL GILLMAN – ‘Dynamism of the Wishbone’ (photo by Tom Fecht © 2006)

Commenting on the project, Phil Gillman (creator of ‘Dynamism of a Wishbone’ which used wishbones to create a wall-mounted sculpture) said, ”I relished the opportunity to work on a project that was completely removed from my usual studio based activities. Having participated in a high profile project with backing from BMW, a company respected for its design innovation and quality, is a great privilege.”

Daniel Kafka, whose sculpture ‘1913’ makes comparisons with the power of a toned athlete, added, “I wanted to achieve a piece of sculpture that boldly expressed the dynamics of BMW design and engineering, through reference to athletics. The pose captured is of the runner having just 'exploded' out of the blocks - 'Bang' the moment of combustion! Viewed head on from front or rear, the runner is seen assembled - but progressively, from a 3-quarter to a side view the composition is deconstructed."

“The parts appear at first glance as if they are the main features on display," he continued. "The viewer is drawn closer by the intrigue of the individual components themselves, they wonder slowly around the installation, suddenly the true meaning becomes clear as the image emerges! The symbolism is that there is plain beauty in the individual components (they could be exhibits in themselves), but collectively, in assembled form the true beauty and intelligence behind the product is presented.”

The five winning artworks were first exhibited at the College and have been unveiled on a dedicated website (, with a series of exhibitions at selected BMW dealerships around the UK planned for later in the year.