It is no exaggeration to say that Bayerische Motoren Werke is a brand of legends. Bavaria’s first car manufacturer better known as BMW is where design and engineering are carefully thought out.
From maker of fine motorcycles during World War II to manufacturer of airplane engine, it is BMW’s heritage that gave birth to its propeller-inspired logo.
“Every BMW vehicle has a distinct character. You cannot mistake it for something else: the fenders, the headlights and the C-shape curve, for examples. These are ‘King of Design’ elements, adding on to the sporting look, but with a universal appeal. Even though these design elements change overtime, they are still very distinctively BMW,” said Mr. Piyathep Siwakas, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at BMW Millennium Auto Co., Ltd.
“The attention to design extends to our showrooms. Anywhere in the world, all showrooms are designed to reflect our BMW characters. We use grey and beige colour scheme to define spaces between customer and display areas. Beige is used, with wooden texture, to evoke a relaxing atmosphere. For our display area, cars were arranged on matte grey granite floor, so each vehicle would stand out,” said Mr. Piyathep.
“The same colour scheme is used worldwide. Our furniture and stationary too changes every five years to keep up-to-date with the latest design and standard,” he added. The new showroom in Bangkok’s up-and-coming Rama III neighbourhood is the latest embodiment of BMW design.
“We take ‘one of the best in time’ concept and try to improve the customer experiences,” said Piyathep. “We have a bigger customer area with an additional space on the second floor. The service has included the latest PDI system for our new customers, which allows us to deliver our cars to our customers in the most efficient manners.”
The Rama III showroom was designed and built with the environment and employees in mind. The temperature inside is well regulated. The building allows for the maximum use of natural light. And all internal light sources come from energy-efficient bulbs. The walls too are perforated for better ventilation, since customers can test the vehicles inside the building. These small but important elements have been added up because they know that happy workplace means happy customers.
Everything is designed with the customers in mind: what would be most convenient and helpful for them. For instance, they can test their cars inside the showroom, because the exhaust is connected to a pipe that will suck out the fumes. The space is designed so that customers feel at ease, since they would be spending much time deciding on their new dreamed car.
“For a car showroom within inner city of Bangkok, where space is precious, the Millennium Auto Rama III Showroom is designed to house the most cars. New models will be on displayed on the ground floor and upper floor is home to more than 30 premium used cars,” said Piyathep.
Every single piece of furniture inside the showroom is very important to BMW. They must reflect the BMW brand of quality. “BMW is a luxury brand, therefore we must be selective with our furniture, which should complement the cars in our showroom too. Rockworth meets the criteria of BMW International standards in design, form and durability,” Said Piyathep.
“I believe our Rama III showroom meets all the needs of our customers. Customers get to spend time with the cars they love and receive the best services from our staff. The design plays an important role in making their experiences a seamless one - no more traffic problems and plenty of parking space for future expansion too,” added Piyathep.
"Simple and luxurious" were the brief given to the design team. This may sound rather simple and direct for brief to design a car showroom. But to convey the essence of simplicity and luxury is no easy feat if you are designing for BMW. God is in the details, so a legendary architect once said. And the team of four in this project has managed to achieve just that - by arriving at the right formula where form connects seamlessly with function.
But behind the polished final product lies immaculate planning and execution. First, the design brief needed to be tackled structurally. "Because plenty of space is needed for the car showroom, we need to design so that the distance between columns is as far apart as possible. Then the display would be unblocked - good for customers browsing for cars," said Project Director, Teppitak Doungjun.
Once the structure is in place, Executive Director Waroon Limpchalerm took over. For Waroon, understanding the essence of the brand is prerogative to designing good buildings and interior.
"BMW has its origin in Germany. Its character is greatly influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Now in Bauhaus design, curves are uncommon. Designs are generally geometrical, like a box. God is on the details: the beauty of Bauhaus depends very much on the right angle, scale and degree of geometry," said Waroon.
The influences of Bauhaus, an early 20th century art and design movement originated in Germany, can be found in this building. "In the showroom, you can spot these tiny design details. If you noticed, the flooring never quite meets the walls. You can spot the edges jutting out. Just about. This principle extends to the display of the cars too, reflecting the German sense of discipline."
Colour too is an important element in conveying BMW's brand character. Using the same rationale when designing an art gallery space, Grey and beige were used as backdrop, allowing the cars to take centre stage.
"My role as the designer is to 'frame' the products, the cars. Still, we need to consider the usability of the space too. For instance, can customers easily approach the sales advisors - given that the customers need space of their own too. Using the colour scheme and clearly dividing the space into two: one for exhibition and another for services, we can meet those needs. The result is a spacious showroom that is unmistakably BMW," added Waroon.
BMW's distinctive style can also be found in the tiniest of details. "Given the large space we have and BWM's international standard, we have to pay careful attention on how we decorate the showroom," said Interior Designer Watanapong Sukpracha. “My task is to achieve simplicity and luxury without resorting to extravagance. We have added the lounge for our customers for a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. The space is also 'free function', ideal for hosting event or party. Blue light were incorporated in the state-of-the-art lighting system to give that special BMW touch.”
Despite the simplicity and luxury, the building is far from bland. "What is special about this five-storey building is that the top floor of this building has a massive glass wall capable of displaying cars from high angle and afar," said architect Theerawat Asawareongchai. "Since the building is close to a busy bridge, this is another unique character of the showroom. The building is very resourceful; for example, the canopy can also protect the sunray. The structure is not only functional, but also beautiful."
The team is proud of the building's green credentials. Teppitak said the building is designed to be environmentally-friendly. LED, with its low energy use, was used as primary light sources. The VRV air-conditioning system is not only energy efficient, but also emits fewer CFC substances, harmful to the ozone layer. Though the whole Green building costs much more than other conventional building, it is a long-term investment.
It is no exaggeration then to say that BMW Millennium Auto Rama III showroom is a beacon of design that answer all the needs.