Chris Bangle has been awarded the 2012 Lifetime Design Achievement Award by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology for his work in vehicle design. Some readers may applaud this honor, while others who were drinking coffee will be cleaning their shirt fronts, and despairing that irony is wasted in America.
EyesOn Design has past award winners vote for the yearly recipient, and this year's jurors included Walter de'Silva, Sergio Pininfarina and Jack Telnack, among others. The jurors chose Bangle for his distinguished career with Opel, Fiat and, most controversially with BMW. The designer contributed the term "Bangle butt" to the language, with his bulky redesign of the 7 Series, which did, howevere, sell well. He also revised the 3 Series and developed the tubby X5 sport minivan and X6 conundrum. The less said about "flame surfacing" and the Z4, the better.
Bangle became BMW's first American Chief of Design in 1992. He may have polarized the BMW faithful, but he also worked on the the Mini as well as the Rolls-Royce Ghost and Phantom, and his designs are credited with helping BMW overtake Mercedes-Benz as the world's leading luxury automaker. He currently operates a design studio in Turin, Italy, but will return to the U.S. in June to receive his award at a black tie event at the Eleanor and Edsel Ford House in Grosse Point Shores, Michigan.—Paul Duchene