BMW Design Language: “Wet Shape”

By Gunnar Heinrich

WATCHING any automotive designer talk about their car is a lesson in the artful language of automotive design. There’s plenty of entertaining descriptors that are thrown about like ‘surface tension’ or ‘feature lines’.

But none have yet proved more compelling than the term that BMW Head Designer Adrian Van Hooydonk used to compliment his own (thank you) 1-series coupé in a BMW Web-TV pod.

[Click Image To Watch]

Referring to the sheetmetal that extends afterward from the front wheel arches, he commented that, “all the lines that come off the front wheel and move up towards the rear [are] what we call ‘wet shape’ […] gives it the sense of forward motion.”

We call?

Is that Team BMW ‘we’ or automotive designers of the world ‘we’?

Whatever the case, it’s certainly less enflamatory than the more loaded ‘flame surface’ and a great deal more sensual – I, for one, upon hearing it flashed on the visual of a woman showering; her soft, sleek silhouette cast in a soft Montego Blue Metallic glow.

But that’s just me.

[Linked: BMW Blog]

September 05, 2008

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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Filed Under: BMW


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  1. Well, I prefer the 1’s ‘wet-shape’ to any of Bangles flame surfaced nightmares…

  2. I remember watching this video earlier. Would Adrian by any chance be talking about “a wedge shape” – as he is talking about lines that move up towards the rear and giving a sense of forward motion..

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