Research, innovation, and moonshot thinking. That's what has led Designworks, A BMW Group Company to open doors to new materials and technologies that will reshape the entire automotive industry. This year, BMW Design is exhibiting at Subcontractor InnoDex and showcasing its concept seats, Infinite Loop and Grown Innovation, two innovative projects working towards promoting sustainability in the automotive industry.
Wesselka Mandowa, CMF Lead Designer at BMW Group Designworks in Los Angeles, has been part of the design team at the BMW Group since 2009. The project being presented at Subcontractor is a collaboration between the Designworks studio in Los Angeles and the headquarters in Munich, drawing inspiration from new technology in the USA and Europe.
Wesselka explains that one term in particular has inspired the project, Moonshot thinking. Moonshot thinking means not settling for small steps or gradual improvements but rather seeking radical changes and solutions to global technical or scientific challenges. The Designers believe this is what is needed to address the climate threats we face and create a better future.
Infinite Loop – textile waste becomes sustainable seats
The goal of the seat concepts is clear: to combine aesthetics with sustainability. Thanks to BMW's groundbreaking research and technology in close cooperation with start-ups of diffferent industries , this has resulted in materials with a lower CO2 footprint and high premium quality. The first concept, Infinite Loop, is characterized by the extensive use of recycled materials. Textile waste is transformed into a synthetic thread used for the seat surfaces. This manufacturing process uses about 98% less water than cotton and reduces carbon emissions by about 80% compared to traditional polyester processing.
"With the Infinite Loop concept, we created new materials using our own production waste that can be reused over and over again. For example, the seat back panel is made from seat foam from old vehicles to become part of a fully circular economy," says Wesselka.
Grown Innovation – an alternative to leather
The second seat concept to be showcased at the exhibition is "Grown Innovation," a project focusing on innovative materials and technologies. The project combines textiles made of 100% recycled materials with natural fibers and a unique biomaterial based on bacterial cellulose created through a laboratory process.
"The material is plastic-free, biodegradable, and completely free of animal products, this makes it a potential alternative to traditional leather in the automotive industry. Another important aspect of the development is the interaction between textile materials and 3D printing processes, giving us designers great creative freedom to explore design forms and color effects," Wesselka explains.
This is the first time Wesselka is visiting Elmia Subcontractor Arena, where she will give a project presentation on the materials and design process. Expectations for the exhibition are to gain inspiration and share ideas among companies. "Since Subcontractor is one of the leading innovation events in Europe, we see it as an important place for future collaborations. Meeting other companies, sharing ideas, and inspiring each other is incredibly important to us," Wesselka concludes.
BMW Group Designworks' innovative seats can be seen at Subcontractor InnoDex during Elmia Subcontractor, 14-16 November.
Subcontractor InnoDex is the arena for product developers, designers, and engineers in the industry. It's a unique platform for sharing knowledge and gaining inspiration, with exciting exhibitions and informative lectures on innovative materials, creative techniques, and innovative work methods.