GINA the Clothed Automobile

Who is GINA? Essentially, GINA is a dream. She will never be realized to her fullest potential because, simply put, GINA is a concept car. Like a myriad of other automobile corporations, BMW uses the concept car as a way to push ideas. It is not meant to be a production car, but instead, as Chris Bangle, the head of BMW’s design, words it, “is meant to steer creativity and research into new directions.”

GINA, an acronym for “Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations”, truly pushes conventional automotive design. Rather than covered in a multitude of metal components, she is outfitted with a sleek and seamless polyurethane-coated Lycra fabric, which is then stretched over a movable aluminum frame. Why use a fabric skin for a car instead of metal? Bangle points out in an interview for BMW that the issues of crashing and stiffness can be resolved in a design that lacks a skin altogether. With that in mind, one begins to question what the purpose of the skin ultimately is, which presents its own set of design opportunities. By switching from a metal skin to fabric, the car instantly becomes lighter, thus making it more fuel-efficient. It also creates a dynamic aspect to the car since the fabric will ripple, fold, and wrinkle as different actions, like opening a door, occur. Bangle goes on to explain that GINA became, “not just a model that became a shape, or just about cloth as a skin. It became about a thinking process, a philosophy, that said ‘we can do things differently'”.

Yes, using fabric as a skin has its own set of potential problems related to structural durability, longevity, etc. And no, GINA will not make it to the production line for the masses. But she brings out the questions in us. In a broader sense, she challenges the status quo of design. Who says  a car needs to be built a certain way or that a building needs x, y, and z to be efficient? By exploring the creative process unashamedly, new avenues of design reveal themselves.





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