At this point, I'm sure that everyone's already aware that BMW is under fire, at least when it comes to the latest designs of its cars, particularly with the massive vertical kidney grilles. Its design chief, Domagoj Dukec, has released several statements about the new direction, defending the styling from every angle.

But Dukec's recent interview with Autocar discusses something differently. In fact, he discussed more of the future, especially the BMW i Vision Circular, the automaker's concept car that made its global debut at the IAA in Munich recently.

Gallery: BMW i Vision Circular Concept

Going bold or going bland? That's the question, and Dukec obviously went for the former. However, it's not just about going bold; vehicle designs should be meaningful as well.

"We must be bold and meaningful," Dukec said in the Autocar interview. "You can do bold through many tricks. Everybody knows how to make a car attractive, but if it’s not meaningful, it’s empty."

Mentioning meaningful isn't an empty statement. The i Vision Circular represents the new phase of models BMW models called Neue Klasse (new class). No, BMW isn't going for retro looks; the only thing the new designation share with the popular '60s line is the name.

"Neue Klasse will stand for electrification, digitalization, and sustainability," Dukec explains. The latter pertains to not being confined to just making electric vehicles.

"As designers, it’s about rethinking and reducing. It’s how we treat materials – not using chrome, creating materials to use less leather. For us, electrification alone isn’t the sustainable path it is for others. They think they make electric cars and there, work done. But the problem is bigger," he said.

So as BMW designs continue to change, expect more meaning to be put into those designs. One example would be the repurposed kidney grilles on the i4 and iX, becoming a panel housing for various sensors and systems.

"It means the icon becomes intelligent, so it becomes more meaningful," says Dukec.

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