Design from the outside in

What makes good design? Christopher Weil, MINI Head of Exterior Design, shares his thoughts and reveals how the future inspires him.

November 2018

Design from the outside in

Exterior style is undoubtedly one of the major reasons that people choose the cars they do, but for Weil, it goes beyond that. ‘When it comes to automotive design, good exterior design is like a promise, showing what the vehicle is capable of. It also reveals the car’s character. This can be every bit as challenging as it is powerful,’ he says. We asked him to elaborate…

Where form meets function

‘In automotive exterior design, there is a trend at the moment towards reduction: making cars more “pure” by playing with bold surfaces and getting rid of creases. For me, good exterior design means creating an emotional tie with the customer, solely through the vehicle’s form. To achieve this, designers have to enrich surfaces with emotional appeal and inject a sense of motion by adding lines that suit the character of the vehicle.

At the moment, I’m very interested in what’s going on in sneaker design! There are so many new possibilities on the production side, and a big leap is happening in terms of design. That connection between functionality, design and material is very inspiring.

For example, on the MINI Clubman, there are some unique details that you won’t see on other vehicles in its class. The club doors are really funky and also practical, plus you don’t have to open the whole boot, you can just open one side of it… Ideal if you’re going surfing and need a “seat” away from the elements!’

Exterior design has the power to reveal a car's character and to make a connection with the consumer, believes MINI Head of Exterior Design, Christopher Weil.


'I think our task as designers should be to make the future a better place. And that includes cars and mobility.'

The future looks bright

The future has always been a great place for me, a sort of improved version of now, and I draw my inspiration from positive future scenarios, or Utopias. That’s also what I think our task as designers should be: to make the future a better place. And that includes cars and mobility.’

Sharing the #inspo

‘As a designer, I’m captivated by products where you can see that someone has worked long and hard on the subject matter, and really come to grips with whatever the topic is. The result is often something unique. And that’s exactly what I aspire to achieve with my own design work: the product shouldn’t just move the MINI brand forward, it should inspire others too. In other words, the emotion I’ve put into it should also resonate with the customer and trigger something inside them.’