BMW reveals polarising i8 and i3 MemphisStyle

By Anna Kantilaftas, 09 Apr 2017 Car Reviews

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BMW i3 i8 MemhpisStyle Special Editions

Some special editions make us Oooh and Ahhh, others have us tilting heads. The BMW i MemphisStyle has our team doing both.

While the rest of the WhichCar team sets their sights on the New York Motor Show, which starts next week, I’ve turned my attention to the 2017 Salone del Mobile.

The Milanese expo is a design fair which primarily focuses on furniture, but occasionally throws in a few little automotive gems.

Last year, MINI used its involvement in design week to reveal the ultra-cute MINI micro-apartments. This year, BMW adds a new special edition to its BMW i8 and i3 series with the MemphisStyle Edition.

BMW i3 i8 MemphisStyle special editions

The i3 and i8 special editions are a collaboration between BMW i and Garage Italia Customs, celebrating the 1980s Memphis Design Group - an Italian design and architecture group founded by Italian architect Ettoire Sottsass, which designed Postmodern furniture and textiles.

“During the 1980s, the Memphis Group questioned the formal severity and classic functionality of design artefacts both in a somewhat provocative and humorous manner… the Group challenged existing dogmas, aroused emotions and created designs with high recognition value,” said Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design, Adrian van Hooydonk.

“The BMW Group pursued a similar approach when designing the BMW i vehicles, questioning typical car design language, breaking new ground and redesigning vehicles from scratch.”

BMW i3 i8 MemphisStyle special editions

The cars feature a range of colours, lines, patterns and characteristics throughout the car’s interior and exterior.

At first glance, the i MemphisStyle made the WhichCar team grimace. Yellow, green, blue, turquoise, purple and black and white patterns merged into a dizzy incongruous design that reminded us more of books from our childhood that put a giraffe’s head on a donkey’s behind. And yet, we couldn’t look away.

On closer inspection, the “eight layers of colour” were perfectly aligned and we admired what would have been a complex and intricate process. The meticulous alignment may be jaw-droppingly accurate, but that’ll only last until the wheels rotate, however.

“Renewing the bond with BMW i is a great pleasure. I fully share their vision of looking at the future and technological innovation as the leading elements in any project.” said Lapo Elkann, Chairman and Creative Director of Garage Italia Customs.

BMW i3 i8 MemphisStyle special editions

“Creativity, style and innovation have always been the key features of all the work carried out by my team in the field of planning and the study of design.

“I can’t help but be proud of the result achieved by my creative hub. Once again, my designers have beaten every expectation; they managed to transfer the real essence of the Memphis Design onto these futuristic one-offs.”

An art concept is not totally alien for BMW, which has previously releases a series of ‘art cars’, starting with an Alexander Calder design on the BMW 3.0 CSL in 1975.

But the BMW i MemphisStyle is not officially part of the Art Car series, although, with its hypnotic mish-mash of kaleidoscopic colours and patterns, you could have fooled us.

The colourful design certainly provokes passion, one way or the other, and we can confidently say that the design is eye-catching. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all… right?