Chris Bangle, the most controversial designer of automobiles in recent memory, has a nifty new geek gig: designing cellphones and notebooks for Samsung.
A wee bit of backstory, for those one or two of you who don’t passionately follow design trends in high-end automobiles. Bangle, a stylish and persistently innovative Midwesterner, was named Chief of Design for the BMW Group in 1992 — the first American to hold that position. His designs for BMW utilized what came to be known as “flame surfacing,” a rippling Frank Gehry-esque collection of compound curves that made the cars look like they were in perpetual motion.
Alas, automotive design rarely rewards risk-taking. The Bangle Beemers were widely panned — this very publication called a Bangle-designed ride one of the “50 Worst Cars of All Time.” Slate published a widely-read article titled “I Can’t Help Hating Chris Bangle.” And anti-Banglers even started an online petition to “Stop Chris Bangle” and have him sacked, which gathered 15,006 signatures. Eventually the naysayers succeeded. In February 2009 Bangle quit BMW and the automobile industry.
So, what might Samsung expect from Bangle 2.0? Well, this is a man who proposed a car named GINA (that’s her, above) that was clad entirely in cloth, so anything’s possible. And, frankly, Samsung’s design aesthetic tends more toward the functional then the form, so pretty much anything would be an improvement. But let’s hope that he — and they — don’t go the obvious route.