The beginning of this unusual cooperation was a commission which the President of Girard-Perregaux, Dr. Luigi Macaluso, entrusted to BMW Individual: to design a car which suitably reflected the philosophy of his luxury products. The model for the vehicle was the design of the boutique in Gstaad opened in 2005 - a geometrical space which in its stylistic consistency represents a minimalist, elegant jewellery case, whilst reflecting its roots in the genius loci of the Bernese Oberland in the materials and colours used: wood, leather and horn.
But how can the interior of a boutique full of wenge wood, green leather, titanium and antlers be translated into an automobile? By defining the exterior colour first of all. "I go from the outside to the inside" is how Christine Angermann, from the BMW Individual design team, describes her approach. Inspired by the materials and after intense discussions with former racing driver Luigi Macaluso, she decided on the colour "Silverstone II", a paint colour with a fascinating iridescence: "Very light green flashes shimmer through." They perfectly match the seating inside. The upholstery is in green leather, based on the Mies van der Rohe chairs in the boutique. This colour is a special colouring and was first created by BMW Individual.
BMW Individual produces something new: wenge wood, the colour green and horn. One of the particular challenges was the use of wenge wood for the interior trimmings. Wenge (milletia laurentii) is a tropical wood which is found mainly in the African states of Cameroon, Zaire, Mozambique and Congo. Because of its lively grain pattern and its warm colour, which changes from light brown to coffee black, wenge is very popular in the world of high-quality design and for inlays. It is very weather-resistant and extremely hard, but can have a tendency to split. "Shaping this hard wood with veneers for the interior was something absolutely new for us", says designer Christine Angermann. The wenge inlays in the steering wheel - a typical BMW Individual hallmark - is therefore a manufacturing achievement of the highest quality. A protective varnish of clear shellac shows off the open-pored structure of the wood very effectively.
To match the sense of technical flair generated in the boutique in Gstaad through the use of titanium inlays, aluminium is used in the automobile, since it can be worked more in line with its function. A glass bead polishing finish gives the brushed aluminium a discreet matt sheen which harmonises with the other colours without dominating them.
Reduction to the simple beauty of the materials.
"The concept of the car is based on the boutique in Gstaad, but also on the personality of the client. Luigi Macaluso is a sporting character", says the designer. "The overall impression in the interior needed to be simple and functional, reduced to the pure beauty of the materials." The focus was on precise craftsmanship: "This requirement unites us with the products of Girard-Perregaux; it's not about fashions - it's about quality workmanship at the highest level. Both brands value technical innovation and first-class quality."
And it was about understatement too. The President of one of the oldest and last watch factories in Switzerland did not want a watch shop on wheels, but rather wished to convey the ideal, formal quintessence of boutique architecture. "The concept became more and more puristic", the BMW Individual designer said in explaining the design process, "and so the watches are displayed very discreetly". In the centre console in the back, in addition to a display table, a "treasure box" has been installed. This is a removable wooden box, lined in velvet. This casket is concealed under a roller made from wenge wood, which can be gently pushed upwards using an elegant horn handle. The ceiling grips are also made from horn, in a discreet reference to the antlers which lend a touch of humour to the radical cuboid shape in Gstaad.
The imagination of a room and discreet luxury.
VIP customers of Girard-Perregaux who are driven around in the BMW Individual 760Li can also see the rest of the collection as a film presentation, thanks to the 9.5" screens which have been integrated into the backs of the front seats. In the interior, the references to this haute voiture are as discreet as the man who commissioned it: embossed initials on the leather upholstery in the rear, the tourbillion, which is the trade mark and masterpiece of the Girard-Perregaux collection, engraved in the iDrive, the company logo in the roller devices of the door panels and on the decorative rear strip.
The sophisticated aesthete and trained architect Luigi Macaluso feels that the execution has been a success: "The design project created by BMW Individual and Girard-Perregaux shows the similarity of character and the strengths of two brands, which have close links with research and technology and which strive for exclusivity and perfection." The President of the watch-making company thinks that automobiles and watches play a particular role in life: "Technology and function still leave sufficient space for sensuality. The common denominator is the feeling for beauty."
Luigi Macaluso sees his new BMW Individual 760Li as a "Concept". This automobile will also embody the style of Girard-Perregaux throughout the world - "a style that connoisseurs recognise immediately and that is never about exhibitionism but about being natural, authentic, for cultured people who have and appreciate an extreme attention to details".
"Both, automobiles and watches, are instruments, machines, yet the common denominator is emotion", he continues. "Brands have characters, but cars and watches have souls." Munich. Refining what's good so it becomes even better - this is the success story of BMW Individual. 15 years ago, the company followed the trend towards more individuality and concentrated on customers who were looking for made-to-measure solutions and making tougher demands on their BMW in terms of exclusivity, design and function. The automobile becomes a subtle statement of personality which deliberately focuses on what's special and which turns aside from standardisation.
BMW Individual has been a synonym for outstanding technical ambition and a desire for automobile perfection. A team of specialists combines the flexible working methods of a manufacturer with the resources and skills of a globally active corporation. As an elemental business area, this division is part of BMW M GmbH, a subsidiary of the BMW Group, which was formed in 1972 as BMW Motorsport GmbH and which, thanks to outstanding engineering achievements, specialises in high-performance vehicles that are suitable for everyday use.
Design and art: Karl Lagerfeld and David Hockney.
Established in 1991, the small but beautiful BMW factory for individual automobiles with special paint finishes, leathers and fine wood trims was the first in the industry. With unique products and rarities, BMW Individual has been interpreting the colour and material language of the different model series in a fascinating way. The success story started with a design from Karl Lagerfeld, which was followed by another two designs over the next few years. These unusual prototypes were pioneering for what followed.
The version for the artist David Hockney was just as perfect but rather more eccentric: the passenger seat in his BMW 6 Series was replaced by a basket containing supplies of water for his constant companions - two dachshunds. The designer Hanae Mori, with her butterfly design for the upholstery, was also an exception. Apart from such extravagances, high-quality hand finishes and exclusive materials went without saying in all versions during the subsequent years. Cars were "made to measure" to suit personal requirements - for Arabic ruling houses.
The most exclusive way of driving a BMW.
Since 2001, the tasks and contents of BMW Individual have been redefined in order to pursue the highest form of customer orientation in the best possible way. The primary aim is to achieve an overall concept for the vehicle which presents the customer with a wide selection, depending on the model series. Customers can make their own personal selection from a collection of high-quality materials, harmoniously matched paint finishes, leathers and interior trims. Thanks to the design competence of BMW Individual, the result is always of the highest aesthetic standard. With the unique car developed for the Swiss-based watch producers Girard-Perregaux, BMW Individual once again developed a "haute voiture" in autumn 2006.
In line with the understatement embodied in the BMW design language that governs all model series, the experts at BMW Individual always try to harmonise each customer's wishes with the BMW philosophy. The individual paintwork is more than a colour: it captivates its customers through its unique brilliance and sophisticated iridescent effects. Thanks to a fine pigmentation, changing nuances appear, depending on how the light falls, which give the surface a new dimension and depth. The intrinsic excitement of the colour black is demonstrated in four variations, including Opal Black metallic and Ruby Black metallic. When it comes to avant-garde exterior colours: the elegant, light shades such as Moonstone or Diamond metallic are preferred particularly by buyers in Asia and other sunny regions: under blue skies, these paint finishes shine with a special glamour.
A refined appeal, extreme durability and comfort: the Merino leather used by BMW Individual is characterised may many positive characteristics. Gentle tanning methods and "barrel pigmentation", as it is known, in which the dye penetrates through intensive rotation and is not just applied to the surface, give this material its richness of colour, strength and durability. The living structure of this leather comes from its natural graining rather than artificial embossing. The finish applied in the semi-aniline process stops fading caused by light, and yet the leather still stays breathable. The combination of all these sophisticated yet gentle processes produces seats that are as soft and smooth as velvet.
Interior trimmings. It's the many details that make the difference with BMW Individual. The interior trimmings made from piano varnish are the most sophisticated finish. The black, high-gloss polished surface is only achieved by famous piano makers using a time-consuming polishing and finishing process. This is what gives this varnish its unique brilliance. Elegant highlights are added through details such as the centre console, ceiling grips and wood inlays in the steering wheel. No less sophisticated alternatives are inter trimmings from high-quality woods such as walnut, mahogany or poplar.
The hallmarks of BMW Individual.
With all the precision of its craftsmanship, exclusivity is coupled with understatement.
• The illuminated entry strips with the BMW Individual lettering are a discreet hallmark of quality.
• The steering wheel is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and an aesthetic gem in one. A filigree wooden inlay is incorporated into the wheel, either in black piano varnish or in high-quality wood to match the interior trimmings.
• The centre consoles in the rear have many different functions: with swivel tables, bar compartment, shelf compartment or a multipurpose communication unit that turns the car into a mobile office.
• The cardanic reading lights in the rear are infinitely adjustable and can be moved to precisely the spot required. Thanks to their powerful illumination and wide light focus, they allow passengers to read and work in comfort.
• The Rear Seat Infotainment / Online offers entertainment and information for rear-seat passengers. Two monitors are ergonomically and elegantly integrated into the headrests of the front seats. The infotainment variant has two 6.5" LCD monitors on which TV programmes or DVD films can be shown in 16:9 screen format. Even more facilities are offered by Infotainment Online, the innovative internet system with 9.5" LCD monitors which can be used separately from each other. A complete multimedia programme with DVD, TV and internet use, including e-mail, is therefore possible. The computer required for this is stowed in the boot, thus saving space.
BMW Individual Maritime.
Many of the people who love exclusivity in all areas of life also love the sea, the coast, the maritime atmosphere - whether it's at the Hamptons, Malibu, Deauville, Cote d'Azur or Heiligendamm. To make sure that these maritime maniacs also feel that they're on deck when they're in the car, a variant has been developed which, with its sophisticated details, brings the world of the sea and yachting into the car. BMW Individual composition with maritime character conveys the aura of decks and the deep blue sea - an imaginary gust of sea air blows through this automobile: midnight blue outside paintwork, champagne-coloured Merino leather, mahogany interior trimmings with inlays strips in light maple and, as an amusing allegory, an embroidered compass on the floor mats.
20, 000 BMW Individual customers a year enjoy discreet luxury.
The result is exclusive vehicles for contemporary people who enjoy discreet luxury. After its launch 15 years ago, today around 20 000 customers a year from all over the world enjoy this most exclusive way of driving a BMW - and around 7 000 of these are in Germany. This is an exclusive target group that demands special technical and design solutions. That makes even tougher demands on exclusivity and function. That dreams that what is perfect can still be improved. Until now, this customer group has been 80% dominated by men, but it is the women that go for the braver colours. In addition to the existing collection of materials, there are no limits on special wishes. But above all, there is the desire to achieve a successful symbiosis of individual, exclusive standards and absolute technical perfection.
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