How Photoshop Ignited BMW’s Iconic “Electrical” Blue

At the end of July in 2011, BMW assembled an international group of journalists in Frankfurt for the unveiling of the prototypes that would become the i3 and i8. The reveal included the production processes, BMW building its own electric motors, forming passenger structures from carbon fiber – utilizing a fascinating time saving process, and the use of composite body panels. BMW design had a ton of work to do in order to make these novel constructions stand out. In Steve Saxty’s, “BMW by Design”, the groundwork is laid for how BMW’s designers undertook this work.

BMW wanted to do a supercar and had shown the M1 Hommage; but it bears mentioning that the financial crisis of 2008 was still roiling when BMW started working on this – the notion of some high cylinder count beast didn’t quite resonate in the ‘Zeitgeist’. The financial crisis, the rising price of fuel, and a growing emphasis on environmental awareness, all spelled trouble for car companies. And BMW was not immune.

BMW had created the “Project i” group in 2007 and along the way received the M1 Hommage, a non-running concept that had premiered at the Villa d’Este in 2008. While the M1 Hommage body was made of ‘Epowood’; sawdust and epoxy which can be milled, the new efficient sports car project would have to be a driver. At the end of July in 2011, at a hall in the Frankfurt Messe, Adrian van Hooydonk stood up to introduce the i3 and i8 prototypes. He was dressed in a light gray suit with a sweater vest providing an accent in this lovely light blue.

Chapter 5 of Steve Saxty’s “BMW by Design” reviews the process of generating the show stopping i8 prototype and its eventual coupling with the i3 prototype for the press in Frankfurt. And it also points out a bit of trivia – that light blue accent line was discovered by the designer’s use of Adobe Photoshop burn tool. The default color of the tool fell to that blue. Croatian designer Mario Majdandzic penned the exterior design of the BMW i8 Vision EfficientDynamics and he explains the choice of blue: “I used it on my first sketches – there’s a tool in Photoshop called “burn” it starts off in the blue range. It just looked so cool that we just stuck with it.”

And that’s how the blue accents were born on some electrified BMWs today…

Comments are closed.