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Running on Fumes

David Robb Leaves Mark on BMW

Monday, January 30, 2012
Today BMW announced Edgar Heinrich will take over as head of BMW Group's BMW Motorrad Design Studio later this year. Heinrich will replace David Robb in the position. This is big news in the design world, as Robb left his mark on BMW motorcycles.
We got an opportunity to chat with BMW cheif designer  David Robb.
BMW cheif designer, David Robb, sat down to chat with journalists at the 2007 BMW Motorrad Days. Robb leaves the Bavarian marque after 18 years of service.

A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, Robb’s talents served BMW for nearly two decades (18 years). He also worked at Audi and Chrysler, moving to BMW’s automotive department and eventually switching to motorcycle design.

Robb’s design history at BMW includes some memorable hits, the most recent being the S1000RR superbike and six-cylinder K1600 series. His design leadership also developed the best-selling BMW motorcycle of all-time – the R1200GS. Robb’s tenure also saw some notable misses, like the R1200C cruiser and C1 scooter.

Robb’s creative direction of BMW motorcycles will be remembered for the company’s shift to more performance-oriented machinery. But regardless of the individual bike’s function, motorcycles designed during Robb’s tenure retained a cohesive styling across all six model lines.

As BMW’s lead designer, Robb was more than amiable and willing to speak about motorcycle design with the press. One particularly memorable exchange occurred during the 2007 BMW Motorrad Days, where he patiently held court with several American journalists, including myself.

It’s a great pleasure to hear someone speak about the thing they love to do, and do well, and I recall enjoying Robb speak that day. While many of the details escape me, I do remember his rational defense of the practicality and great potential of the doomed C1 scooter, as well as his smiling tolerance when asked about the distinctive paddle turnsignal switchgear that used to adorn Beemers (a feature regularly griped at by journos at the time, myself included, but which I now miss!). Mostly I remember admiring the difficult task of a designer: to make something simple, functional, attractive, and maybe even a little bit soul-stirring.

It will be interesting to see what path Heinrich takes the propeller brand. It will be more interesting, perhaps, to see where Robb takes his own talents in the automotive design world.
Post Tags: David Robb, BMW design
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