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Thread: Robb leaves BMW

  1. #61
    MAYLETT
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimshaw View Post
    A lot of riders don't understand what the term "design" means in motorcycles.
    I'm not an industrial/automotive designer, but I've been a software and interface designer for many years, so I have some thoughts on this.

    The end result in many fields represents a compromise, collaboration or battle between designer and engineer. Take my field for example, then look at Microsoft. At its core, Microsoft is a software engineering company that engineers solutions to problems, then brings in designers to wrap graphic veneers around their engineering solutions. Apple, on the other hand, is more of a design company that envisions or designs solutions, then brings in the software and product engineers to implement those designs. They're two very different philosophies and approaches to solving similar problems, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    I know nothing about the inner workings at BMW, but it's readily apparent that BMW is an engineering company where the designers are subordinate to the engineers ÔÇö not the other way around. Coincidentally, Germany's prewar Bauhaus school was also the primary originator of modern design theory. Nearly everything in modern design, from typefaces to architecture have been heavily influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of form following function. In other words, the way things work should dictate the way they look.

    There's typically an uneasy working relationship between designer and engineer. The designer regards the engineer as having no taste or sense of style, while the engineer regards the designer as a nuisance. Fortunately, the thing that keeps them together is the need for each others skills. Without the designer, BMW bikes would have all the pizzazz and user comfort of an old Soviet tractor, and despite their engineering and durability, the bikes wouldn't sell. But without the BMW engineers, the fancy-looking bike prototypes could never be built and probably wouldn't run if they were built.

    I have no idea what's caused the personnel changes in BMW Motorad's design team. I do hope, however, that this change won't result in a lesser or more subordinate role for innovative design at BMW. Their motorcycles were finally seeming to achieve the right balance between engineering and design, and it would be a shame to see this change.

  2. #62
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maylett View Post
    I'm not an industrial/automotive designer, but I've been a software and interface designer for many years, so I have some thoughts on this.

    The end result in many fields represents a compromise, collaboration or battle between designer and engineer. Take my field for example, then look at Microsoft. At its core, Microsoft is a software engineering company that engineers solutions to problems, then brings in designers to wrap graphic veneers around their engineering solutions. Apple, on the other hand, is more of a design company that envisions or designs solutions, then brings in the software and product engineers to implement those designs. They're two very different philosophies and approaches to solving similar problems, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    I know nothing about the inner workings at BMW, but it's readily apparent that BMW is an engineering company where the designers are subordinate to the engineers ÔÇö not the other way around. Coincidentally, Germany's prewar Bauhaus school was also the primary originator of modern design theory. Nearly everything in modern design, from typefaces to architecture have been heavily influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of form following function. In other words, the way things work should dictate the way they look.

    There's typically an uneasy working relationship between designer and engineer. The designer regards the engineer as having no taste or sense of style, while the engineer regards the designer as a nuisance. Fortunately, the thing that keeps them together is the need for each others skills. Without the designer, BMW bikes would have all the pizzazz and user comfort of an old Soviet tractor, and despite their engineering and durability, the bikes wouldn't sell. But without the BMW engineers, the fancy-looking bike prototypes could never be built and probably wouldn't run if they were built.

    I have no idea what's caused the personnel changes in BMW Motorad's design team. I do hope, however, that this change won't result in a lesser or more subordinate role for innovative design at BMW. Their motorcycles were finally seeming to achieve the right balance between engineering and design, and it would be a shame to see this change.
    +++1 Extremely well said.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  3. #63
    100,000+ miler 32232's Avatar
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    A small example of the design/engineering relationship is in something I remember from a David Robb interview several years ago. He was commenting on the design changes from the 1100 to 1150 oilhead models.

    Discussing the rear swingarm, he stated that the design of the swingarm was changed from linear to a more curvaceous form to make it appear "muscular". I haven't compared the parts lists, but in spite of the significant difference in appearance, I'd be surprised if there was as significant a change to the engineering of the driveline it contained.
    Dave

    '06 Triumph Scrambler (Trans-Labrador veteran)

  4. #64
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maylett View Post
    I know nothing about the inner workings at BMW, but it's readily apparent that BMW is an engineering company where the designers are subordinate to the engineers — not the other way around. Coincidentally, Germany's prewar Bauhaus school was also the primary originator of modern design theory. Nearly everything in modern design, from typefaces to architecture have been heavily influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of form following function. In other words, the way things work should dictate the way they look.
    Back in the 60's and 70's, BMW relied on Italian design firms like Pinanfarina, Bertone, etc. for car body and motorcycle fairing design. In many ways, those designs were "lighter" than than today's Hummer-esque designs. Of course, in those days, we didn't feel that we needed a GS or an X5 to drive down the highway. It seems that a S/RS/RT or a 2002/320 did just fine.

    But, times do change....
    Last edited by 36654; 02-19-2012 at 03:21 PM.
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    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by GregFeeler View Post
    For all the reasons Jim states above, and for the success his designs have seen in the market place (just look at the styling of the GS wanta-bes), I believe he will be a big loss to BMW. No one is irreplaceable, but some people do leave a noticeable hole in the water for a while.
    Well said.
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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  6. #66
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    Back in the 60's and 70's, BMW relied on Italian design firms like Pinanfarina, Bertone, etc. for car body and motorcycle fairing design. In many ways, those designs were "lighter" than than today's Hummer-esque designs. Of course, in those days, we didn't feel that we needed a GS or an X5 to drive down the highway. It seems that a S/RS/RT or a 2002/320 did just fine.

    But, times do change....
    Yes, and some of those designs still look very modern today - IMHO especially the K100RS and K75S. I still get unbelieving stares when I tell non-BMW people that my K75S is 19 years old.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maylett View Post
    I have no idea what's caused the personnel changes in BMW Motorad's design team. I do hope, however, that this change won't result in a lesser or more subordinate role for innovative design at BMW. Their motorcycles were finally seeming to achieve the right balance between engineering and design, and it would be a shame to see this change.
    great post on the element of design in the overall user experience with a product. as an Apple fanbois, I am right there with you.

    word is that David Robb was being increasingly subjected to design "guidance" from the car people at BMW and that wasn't sitting will with the bike people.

    Very unfortunate because Robb is about as good as they come.

    Here.... this video pretty much summarizes how effectively Microsoft can screw up a simple idea:


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    ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^
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  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Visian View Post
    great post on the element of design in the overall user experience with a product. as an Apple fanbois, I am right there with you.

    word is that David Robb was being increasingly subjected to design "guidance" from the car people at BMW and that wasn't sitting will with the bike people.

    Very unfortunate because Robb is about as good as they come.

    Here.... this video pretty much summarizes how effectively Microsoft can screw up a simple idea:

    Well, that is just about the best demonstration of the differences between to entirely different philosophies that I've ever seen. Spot on. Thanks, Ian.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  10. #70
    Ed Kilner #176066
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregFeeler View Post
    Well, that is just about the best demonstration of the differences between to entirely different philosophies that I've ever seen. Spot on. Thanks, Ian.
    The video might well show the differences in philosophy, but unless i crank up my PC, i'll never know.

    See, my iPad does not permit me to see Flash videos. Apple's philosophy...

    Perfection continues to elude all organizations, but it's great fun to watch each of them persue it.
    Ed
    2011 R1200RT Thunder Gray Metallic; 2000 Triumph 900(sold)
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  11. #71
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMW Triumphant View Post
    The video might well show the differences in philosophy, but unless i crank up my PC, i'll never know.

    See, my iPad does not permit me to see Flash videos. Apple's philosophy...
    There's some sort of irony in that.

    Perfection continues to elude all organizations, but it's great fun to watch each of them persue it.
    Very true. And it's good for us as consumers when one company gets on a hot streak and produces great products we all want.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  12. #72
    Ambassador at Large JIMSHAW's Avatar
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    Good for us when...

    And, it's even better for us when others figure it out, and bring us equivalent technology a few months later at one-third the price.

    Where would we be if we had to by all of our electric lights, music players, and movie tickets from Thomas Edison? Yet, it takes little from his importance that he was also thrown out of his own company (GE).

    Jobs fixed up a company with some great ideas, tyrannical control, and terrorized underlings. It would be a mistake to make him into the Savior, and to think that he did it for all the unwashed children running around listening to iPods, texting nonsense on iPhones, and playing games on iPads.

    He did it for their money, and he got it right. Be a disciple if you like, but pay attention to the concept you are evangelizing. (And, don't drag your monk's sackcloth habit in the mud.)

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMW Triumphant View Post
    See, my iPad does not permit me to see Flash videos. Apple's philosophy...
    zing!

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimshaw View Post
    Where would we be if we had to by all of our electric lights, music players, and movie tickets from Thomas Edison? Yet, it takes little from his importance that he was also thrown out of his own company (GE).
    Jobs was essentially thrown out of Apple, formed Next and fomented Pixar.

    The vision is a seamless content experience across devices.

    The conflict is between proprietary and open architectures.

    As it stands right now, the only way to assure a seamless content experience is a proprietary architecture.

    That could change. If the phone companies had a clue, we'd have it by now. But they don't and probably never will.

    Ian

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    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Pieter de Waal told me...the RS type bikes are gone because they didn't test at the top of any recognized category of motorbikes (as defined by the motorcycle press)...Greg Feeler
    I'm glad you posted this Greg, because I've been shopping for an ST, and recently pulled up a bunch of old road tests. So here's Kevin Ash of the Telegraph, working over my favourite bike:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/...converted.html
    Rinty

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