BMW i3 interior with Kenaf and Eucalyptus wood - to publish.jpg

BMW i3 interior

A simple reductionist, and hugely influential, interior design

The i3 was the most radical car design of the twenty-tens. An electric, carbon-fibre, rear-wheel-drive, short and tall hatchback with suicide rear doors: a car for (very) left-field Golf customers. With proportions matching those of the original Mercedes Benz A-class (and Peugeot 1007…) and strikingly distinct form language replete with bi-colour graphics, this was always a car with an exterior design that both dared customers to buy it and took away the spot-light from a carefully reduced, and hugely influential, interior.

Using much exposed structural Kenaf fibre (instead of petroleum based plastics), optional Eucalyptus wood and other ecologically considerate materials was pioneering. But the biggest impact of the i3 interior was its overall reductionist design approach with no centre-console, slender IP, minimal interface area, and simple horizontal linear theme. The design experience of using this car perfectly complemented the silky, near-silent, electric drive experience, and it set the template for so many others that have followed. 

Essentially the i3 interior design eschewed the idea of the automotive cockpit where the driver is master-of-machine, ensconced by dials and levers to monitor and control the internal combustion engine — something once (brilliantly) dear to other BMW designs. The i3 design's more egalitarian spirit with its simple reductionist execution, chimed with electric drive, and is still in fast ascent in car design.