Christian Bauer, Head of Interior Design Mini interview

Christian Bauer, Head of Interior Design Mini interview

12.02.2018: Christian Bauer took over as Head of Interior Design MINI in June 2017. In his answers to the following ten questions, he explains what it is that makes interior design, in particular, an immensely

Christian Bauer took over as Head of Interior Design MINI in June 2017. In his answers to the following ten questions, he explains what it is that makes interior design, in particular, an immensely challenging job, why automotive design is on the verge of perhaps one of its biggest ever paradigm shifts and what role MINI will play in this process.

1. Why did you become a car designer ?

The job is both a vocation for me and a tremendous privilege, because as designers we have the opportunity to make the world a more beautiful place. Even as a child, there were two things that I loved: cars and drawing. I had a huge collection of Matchbox cars. I also had the good fortune to be constantly surrounded by real vehicles, too, as my father spent a great deal of time “tinkering” with various models.

 And I’ve always really enjoyed drawing as well. So, combining the two passions and making a career of them seemed like a logical thing to do, and the opportunity to study Transportation Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim provided the ideal stepping stone into the profession.

2. What sort of things capture your imagination ?

Development, the future – basically I’m fascinated by anything that’s new. I can’t bear the thought of things just standing still, and nothing good comes of it in the long term, in my view. Advancement is part of human nature, and it’s something we all engage with from a very young age; my own children show me time and again what a joy it is.

 Their delight in achieving or understanding something for the first time is communicated openly and directly. The pleasure taken in one’s own positive evolution is a source of both motivation and fascination for me: I, too, constantly challenge myself in order to keep progressing and creating new things.

3. What inspires you ?

I draw inspiration from the unusual and the unseen. Every time someone successfully takes a new approach, I am reminded that we sometimes stick too closely to the familiar. New approaches often set new standards too. So, it’s worth breaking new ground, even if it means surmounting many obstacles and showing real courage. I am inspired by achievements in all sorts of disciplines – from architecture, to biology and physics, to design, of course.

 A great deal of interdisciplinary work is being carried out at present, which can have a great bearing on design. For instance, you have biologists working together with engineers on intelligent materials. In future, it could be possible for surfaces such as leather, fabric or wood to communicate using light, sound or movement, for example. Functions and components will merge into one, opening up entirely new possibilities in the process.

4. What do you think of as good design ?

For me, good design is always a reflection of the zeitgeist at the time, while also relating extremely closely to the person the product is geared towards. The way we see things – and, as a consequence, prevailing tastes – change over time. The dominant element in design today, for example, is clarity because the world we live in has become highly complex and we’re overloaded with input.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that good design always has to mirror contemporary preferences, however: there is also such a thing as timeless design. All in all, good design must offer added value in my opinion – both functionally and emotionally.

5. What do you like most about your work as a car designer?

For me, design means far more than just the aesthetics of form; I see it as something carried out for and with people. This means that design always generates added value that satisfies at least one requirement of people or customers – even if it is “just” their sense of wellbeing. In other words, design helps to make life better. Playing an active role in that is something I am very proud of.

I also love the aspect of foresightedness, i.e. fathoming out the needs that people will develop in future and how we can best address them. This visionary role allows design to act as the driving force behind technological innovations and even inspire developers. That’s one of the most exciting and captivating parts of my job.

6. When it comes to car design, people tend to think first of the exterior design, rather than the interior. Why is that?

The exterior forms the first touchpoint with a vehicle. It’s the first thing you see and it generates direct emotions. The exterior’s styling confers certain attributes on the vehicle, such as power, speed or agility, which add up to give it a distinctive character.

 And it is not uncommon for the product to make a statement by clearly conveying the status and character of its driver. The exterior design is extremely important. But what keeps the customer hooked in over the long run – as many studies have confirmed – is the interior.

7. What is so special about interior design?

The real acid test as far as the customer is concerned comes when they actually get inside the car – and getting this right is a far tougher task. If you don’t feel at ease in the vehicle, can’t get to grips with the controls, don’t like the materials or think the build quality is abysmal, then you’re highly unlikely to buy another car from the same brand.

An interior designer has to be adept at a host of different disciplines. You need to know the basics of ergonomics, human behaviour, acoustics, control logic, and far more besides. The person must not feel restricted in their movement in any way, but at the same time they must be guided and harnessed.

They must not be dazzled by anything and yet everything must be clearly identifiable. And all of that not just in a single specific situation but throughout the whole spectrum of different movement scenarios and usage cases – from configuring the car on a smartphone, to getting in and the actual driving, to getting out again. And, of course, it must all be easy and intuitive to use. Then comes the icing on the cake: the styling of the surfaces, the coherent appearance of the parts, the overall effect of the interior.

It should also be pointed out that we work within a pretty tight set of technical constraints, such as rigidity, crash characteristics, sound insulation, wiring harnesses and material wall thicknesses. These constraints have to be manipulated in such a way that there is more room and freedom for the actual task of design. And rest assured that there will always be something in the way. Sculpting a line or a surface cleanly enough so that it doesn’t just look like covering for the technical constraints is quite a challenge in itself.

The art of interior design resides in firing the emotions and creating a feel-good factor, while working within all these complex parameters. The feeling when the Board of Management signs off a production-car interior with a broad smile on their faces is indescribable and a real reward for all the effort involved.

8. What do you see as being the key issues of the future for MINI and what role will interior design have to play?

There is a great deal of upheaval in the automotive world at present. We are seeking to create a sensible and emotionally engaging product offering for smaller models in the premium segment against the highly complex backdrop of digitalisation, autonomous driving and, of course, electric mobility.

At MINI we want to be an active player in pushing ahead this transition to the new world, as it were. In the course of this evolution, interior design is set to play an absolutely essential role. Enjoying a pleasant, flexible environment for the drive from A to B is becoming more and more important. Autonomous driving will transform vehicle interiors.

For many people, their vehicle will become a second living space after their homes. We will probably continue to spend a great deal of time in our cars in future – perhaps even more than we do today. But we will increasingly be able to do other things there as well. Read, sleep, buy things online or play with the kids; the possibilities seem endless.

Vehicle interiors must therefore take new forms of usage into account. And we as interior designers have the ability to create completely new worlds and experiences and take quality of life to a whole new level. This is where I expect to see perhaps the biggest paradigm shift in car manufacture.

9. How will that look at MINI exactly?

MINI is all about maximising the experience within the smallest possible footprint. The technical requirements of electric mobility mean that installation spaces and partitioning have to be rethought. This opens up tremendous potential for MINI. Interaction with vehicles will assume an increasingly important role, as well. In future, customers will still be able to find their way around a MINI instantly and purely by intuition.

MINI will show that interaction does not have to be boring, look overly technical or be complicated to use. What is important is that, in future, anyone who gets into a MINI will still feel totally at ease. And ideally, they won’t want to get out again either.

10. What would the perfect interior of the future look like for you?

I think – and, indeed, hope – there is no such thing as “the” perfect interior, otherwise we would be out of a job! In the future, there will certainly be a far higher degree of flexibility and fusion between all the areas involved, such as materials, displays, movement, sound, aroma and control. I’m excited about what lies ahead, and hope designers and engineers alike will get the freedom they need to bring about something completely new.


Christian Bauer has been Head of Interior Design at MINI since June 2017. Before switching to MINI, the 43-year-old was in charge of Interior and Detail Design at BMW i. Prior to that, he worked as both team manager and acting general manager in BMW Interior Design and Detailing.


Susanne Herrmann- photo MINI


12.02.2018 / MaP

More News

Seat and World Radio Day: From FM to screen inches
    More than 80% of drivers listen to music on their daily commutes    Car interior design has adapted to technological changes and now screens are at the centre of everything    How car radios have evolved – from hand selecting a station on the 600 to voice interaction with an 8 inch screen more >>
Tour to the Autostadt
Our tour to the Autostadt is a dream for all motor car lovers but also has something for all the family. We have a range of hotels for you to choose from. Pricing starts at £276 per person including flights, train transfers, hotel and Autostadt entrance.  We at more >>
Supervisory Board of Daimler AG extends contract of Renata Jungo Brüngger
-  Contract extension until December 31, 2023-   Supervisory Board Chairman Dr. Manfred Bischoff: “As an experienced lawyer and compliance expert, she shapes the company in an outstand more >>
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has announced the appointment of Dr. Mihiar Ayoubi as Director of Engineering
....from 1 March 2018.Ayoubi joins Rolls-Royce from the BMW Group with over 20 years’ experience in a broad range of engineering positions. He is currently Head of Concepts, Architectures and Integration and has previously headed departme more >>
Seat -The atelier of cars
    Nick Allen designs patterns by hand for the upholstery of new models    This ‘car tailor’ uses 30 km of thread every year on the stitching for seats, steering wheels and gearknobs    Car interiors are also getting treated to the trend of colour customising more >>
Automobili Lamborghini is Top Employer Italia 2018
•    Recognition received for the fifth consecutive year •    Record growth in number of employees: almost 1600 at the close of 2017•    500 new hires completed for the Urus project  more >>
Black is beautiful: Die Opel-Modelle mit dem besonderen Style
•    Sportlich-edler Blickfang: Astra ab sofort in Zweifarblackierung mit Dach, Außenspiegeln und Leichtmetallrädern in Schwarz•    Voll im Trend: Modelle von Corsa bis Mokka X setzen ebenfalls schwarze Akzente more >>
LEXUS LS 7 ways to extend the boundaries of Automotive Luxury
LS DASHBOARD DESIGN   HIGH STRUNG INSPIRATIONBackgroundThe flowing lines that run the width of the dashboard are one of the eye-catching features of the new LS’ interior. This unique design is inspired by the strings of a koto, a more >>
Big Player und Top Experten kommen zum Praxistreff für 3D-Druck nach Spielberg
02.02.2018 – das erste Camp für 3D-DruckDer Red Bull Ring wird am 11. und 12. April 2018 zu dem Treffpunkt für additive Fertigung. Top-Experten aus den Unternehmen Airbus, Red Bull Racing, voestalpine, Trumpf, EOS und Festo berichten bei der über more >>
Opel treibt Exportoffensive weiter voran
•    Neue Importeure in Marokko und Tunesien benannt•    Wachstum durch Verkäufe außerhalb Europas ist Kern des Strategieplans PACE! more >>
SafetyWeek zeigt das gesamte Spektrum der aktiven und passiven Fahrzeugsicherheit
Fachkongress ab 2018 im Vogel Convention Center in Würzburg  Das gesamte Spektrum der Automobilsicherheit steht seit 2003 im Mittelpunkt der jährlichen SafetyWeek. Während zunächst Anforderungen und Technologien der passiven Sicherheit den Schwerpunkt bildeten, stehen in diesem Jahr Methoden und Technologien zur Unfallverme more >>
Mazda signs United Nations Global Compact
•    Japanese carmaker underscores its ongoing commitment to creating a sustainable society.•    Joins drive to spread responsible business practices. more >>
False myths about compressed natural gas cars
    They are more economical and just as safe and powerful; the expert on CNG at SEAT debunks some of the misconceptions about these vehicles    These models can be driven up to 1,300 kilometres without having more >>
Electrified 2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid Arrives in Showrooms
    2018 MDX Sport Hybrid features an upgraded user interface with standard Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ integration    Two new sporty red exterior colorsThe 2018 Acu more >>
Mercedes-AMG with V8 power rolls off the line in East London
•    First series production Mercedes-AMG C 63 is celebrated at Mercedes-Benz South Africa East London plant.•    Since the start of production for Mercedes-AMG C 43, more than 1 700 have been exported from our shores. more >>
CUPRA: A new Brand is born
Today, SEAT officially confirms the launch of the new CUPRA brand and presents its new logo, giving a first glimpse of what CUPRA will become.CUPRA has always been the sportiest expression of SEAT. Now the time has come for it to gain its more >>
BMW Indonesia Officially Opens First City Sales Outlet in Indonesia.
New retail concept in strategic location to strengthen brand offerings. Today, PT BMW Indonesia, along with PT. Artha Motor Lestari, inaugurated BMW Thamrin as the first BMW City Sales Outlet in Indonesia. more >>
Porsche Studio opened in Beirut
Sports car manufacturer further expands its global sales networkPorsche is strengthening its presence in the Middle East by opening the world’s third Porsche Studio in Beirut. Similar to “Porsche on Sylt” and more >>
Gibson Technology Form Technical Partnership with Grainger and Worrall
British manufacturers strengthen long standing relationship with technical partnershipRepton based Gibson Technology is pleased to announce the formation of a technolo more >>
Cooper präsentiert den neuen CS7™
Einen neuen Premium-Sommerreifen für Kleinwagen und Mittelklassefahrzeuge hat Cooper Tire Europe entwickelt. Der jetzt präsentierte CS7™ ersetzt den erfolgreichen Cooper CS2. more >>
Mercedes-Benz is the partner of the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship
Mercedes-Benz is the official partner of the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship, which is taking place from 16 to 26 August 2018 at Hamburg's Inselpark. A total of 28 competing teams with around 600 team members will be arriving at the site. more >>
What’s faster - the SEAT CUPRA or a javelin?
Winning Spirit•    Challenge between the SEAT Leon CUPRA and Barbora Špotáková, Olympic javelin champion and a brand ambassador•    The challenge puts the car’ more >>
Warm-up laps in Italy for the new BMW 8 Series Coupe
The new BMW 8 Series Coupe undergoes vehicle dynamics testing on the racetrack.Prototype of the new luxury segment sports car completes endurance tests on the high-speed circuit in Aprilia – Preparations for market launch during 2018 progress according to more >>
Scuderia South Africa announces its' second Internship Program for 2018
Scuderia South Africa, the official Ferrari dealer proudly announces their 2018 Internship Program. This is the company's second program since its launch in June 2017. During the duration of the project Scuderia South Africa afforded three y more >>
Revamped Europass to help Europeans train and work across the EU
The European Parliament’s Education and Employment Committee has approved an agreement to revamp the Europass, a kind of online European Union CV, to help Europeans find jobs and get training in EU countries. The file now moves to the European Parliament for its approval in plenary and to EU Member States for their backing. - more >>
McLaren Manchester officially opens its doors in Wilmslow
    McLaren Manchester opens state-of-the-art facility in Wilmslow, Cheshire    New location boosts McLaren presence in the region    Newly-refurbruished facility features latest visual more >>
Mercedes-Benz starts production of the new CLS in Sindelfingen
At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen the Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant Michael Bauer (left) and Ergun Lümali, Chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen Works Council (right) met for the official production start of the new CLS. more >>
Volkswagen Group IT expands know-how ...
...for the development of digital customer offerings    Software for the Volkswagen brand's digital customer offerings such as "We Deliver" is being developed at the Group IT Digital Lab    The Digital Lab has an international team more >>
10 questions to Christopher Weil
Christopher Weil is a passionate designer. Since 2013 he has been Head of Exterior Design at MINI, i.e. the man responsible for shaping the exterior of both current and future MINI models and the brand&rsquo more >>
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manchester opens doors to Wilmslow Showroom
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manchester has opened the doors to its new super-luxury facility in Wilmslow, Cheshire, following a relocation from nearby Knutsford.In the spirit of the marque, the two-storey facility features a specially-commissioned sci more >>
SEAT - The thousand day journey of a colour
    Each colour, since the time it is created until it is applied on a vehicle, goes on a journey that lasts three years     84 robots paint the cars and a scanner confirms it has been evenly applied more >>
McLaren Automotive inaugurates new carbon composites technology center
... in Yorkshire in true McLaren styleA key milestone was marked today at the Yorkshire manufacturing centre that from 2019 will start producing carbon fibre tubs for McLaren Automotive, the British creator of luxury sportscars and sup more >>
By 2030, the transport sector will require 138 million fewer cars in Europe and the US
•    Vehicle stock in China expected to increase by almost 50%•    In 2030, more than one in three kilometres driven will be ‘shared’•    40% of the mileage driven could be done in autonomous vehicles in 2030•    Personal mileage could rise by 23% in Europe, 24 more >>
Das Opel-Original-Zubehör für den Crossland X
•    Stylishe Accessoires: Edler und hochwertiger Look innen wie außen•    Sinnvolle Ordnung: FlexOrganizer®-Lösungen für noch mehr Reisekomfort•    Sichere Ladung: Transport von Gepäck, Skiern und Snowboards auf dem Dach•    Saubere Sache: Opel-Ko more >>
Dr Ursula von der Leyen, hands over 126 vehicles to the Kingdom of Jordan
Dr Ursula von der Leyen, Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, handed 126 Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles over to representatives of the Kingdom of Jordan in Amman. This aid is part of the so-called enabling initiative by more >>
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars 2017 - The year of Bespoke
The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Bespoke department is an extraordinary collective of designers, engineers and craftspeople, who bring the marque’s discerning and influential patrons’ most ambitious and personal visions to reality.The R more >>
MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience: revolution in the cockpit
Taking centre stage in the Mercedes-Benz presence at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES; 9 - 12 January 2018) will be the world premiere of the intuitive and intelligent multimedia system MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It will enter series production in 2018 in the new A-Class. more >>
Fresh update for the original: the new MINI Hardtop 2 Door
... the new MINI Hardtop 4 Door, the new MINI Convertible.The British premium automobile manufacturer strengthens the progressive character and appeal of its models in the small car segment with a stylishly refin more >>
BMW technology equips German bobs for the Olympic Games.
The German Bobsleigh and Sled Sports Federation (BSD) athletes have a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (KOR) in February 2018. Four years ago, the successful bob athletes came away without a medal. At the three world championships that foll more >>
2001-2022 copyright