MINI compact car BMW Anders Warming Circuit Paul Ricard racetrack

MINI Chronology

A MINI Timeline: The MINI launched in the U.K. with one instant classic model in 1959. It became a movie star in the 1969 film The Italian Job (and again in 2003). John Lennon and Queen Elizabeth II even drove the small, moderately priced car that was practical yet stylish. BMW purchased the design in 2001 and set about updating and expanding the lineup while remaining faithful to the original design pioneered by Sir Alec Issigonis. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke…

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Maximum MINI

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The drive up to the Circuit Paul Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet, France, offers everything you would imagine from this coastal region of Provence: winding roads over rolling hills, picture-perfect vineyards, and sleepy towns full of romanticized French Country architecture. But on one perfect weekend in May, we also found one unforgettable sight—the idyllic landscape littered with thousands of highly customized cars. More than 25,000 MINI owners from around the world gathered to celebrate the small vehicle with the big design at MINI United 2012, and Design Bureau was lucky enough to go along for the ride.

Not many compact car brands can claim to have the kind of zealous fan base that MINI has, and we like to think its loyal following stems from those sporty good looks and the care that MINI has paid to both form and function from its inception through to today’s latest models.

“MINI today is a cult, a way of life, and more contemporary than ever,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design.

The principles of MINI design follow the archetypes of the human body, uniting the muscular shoulders of a man, the soft, flowing forms of a woman, and the cuteness of a child. The goal, according to MINI, is to create “an emotionally charged form.” 

With all the men, women, and children gathered in Provence to cheer their favorite car at MINI United, we’d say it’s working.

 

Q+A

Anders Warming
Head of MINI Design

DB: What are a few of the most subtle, yet lasting, design changes since the original MINI?

AW: Certain “genuine” design icons have been retained from the classic Mini and have always been developed further, like the hexagon grille and round headlamps with fog lights as beauty spots.

DB: What are the fundamentals of MINI design?

AW: All MINIs provide as much space as possible for the occupants in the smallest footprint possible in order to maximize interior space. The short overhangs and the principle of “stance on the wheels,” which means that the four wheels are positioned at the outermost part of the body, underline the sporty character of the MINI. This gives it its distinctive appearance and the typical go-kart driving experience. So even when it grows in size or gets a model makeover, the MINI design takes care to transfer the typical proportions of the vehicle.

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