Designworks is a global creative consultancy owned by BMW and based in Newbury Park, California, United States. Designworks has two further studios, in Munich, Germany and Shanghai, China. Established independently in 1972 by Charles Pelly, it became a wholly owned BMW Group subsidiary in 1995, and was instrumental in the design of the BMW XL Sports Activity Vehicle and the BMW 5 Series. Other development projects at Designworks have included the BMW electric car, BMW 8 Series (E31) seat, BMW 3 Series (E46), BMW Z8, BMW 7 Series interior, BMW Zeta show car, and BMW 100- and 1200 Touring motorcycles, among many others.[2]

FounderCharles Pelly
Newbury Park, California
United States[1]
Key people
Holger Hampf, President
Number of employees
140+ (2019)

Fast Company named Designworks the world's most innovative design company in 2010.


"Designworks is the design innovation studio of BMW Group. For 25 years, we have been stimulating our parent company, as well as a select group of companies with ambitious visions for the future. We inspire and challenge the companies we work with to be at the forefront of their industries - in design, technology and innovation. We are the architects of future – designing systems that impact and improve the world we live in."


The design studio was founded in 1972 by designer Charles Pelly[3] with the name DesignworksUSA (renamed Designworks in 2015). The company began in Malibu Canyon with three designers and early customers included Hyster and the Otis Elevator Company.

In 1978, the company expanded and moved to Van Nuys, and set up its first sister studio, D2, in Detroit. In 1986, Designworks designed the seats for the BMW 8 Series (E31), which was the company's first involvement with BMW. In the same year, the company moved to Agoura. In 1988, Designworks moved to Newbury Park, and began designing for Nokia, Compaq, Siemens and Adidas .

BMW ownership

In 1991, BMW acquired a large percentage of the company, and Designworks started its first car exterior design project in 1993 for the 1998 BMW 3 Series (E46). In May 1995, BMW purchased the remaining percentage of Designworks. At this time artist David Hockney painted an Art Car in the studio. In 1998, Designworks opened a studio in Munich, and in 1999, Henrik Fisker was named president.

In 2001, Adrian van Hooydonk became president. In 2002, Designworks expanded its automotive studio in Newbury Park.

Verena Kloos was president from 2004 to 2009. In January 2006, the company opened a new studio in Singapore, and in 2007 unveiled their new studio wing in Newbury Park. On December 1, 2009, Laurenz Schaffer, formerly director of Designworks's Munich studio, became president. In April 2012, Designworks opened a new studio in Shanghai.[4]

From 1 August 2016 Oliver Heilmer was appointed as the new president of Designworks. He remained in the role until 2017, when he moved to Munich to take over responsibility of MINI Design. The current president of Designworks is Holger Hampf. Appointed in the role on 1 September 2017, Holger originally joined Designworks in 1998, responsible for Product Design. From 2002 to 2010 he was a member of Designworks management team in Los Angeles.[5]

Designworks has worked with a wide and varied range of clients including Embraer,[6] Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Boeing Business Jets, EVA Air, Pilatus Aircraft, John Deere, Advanced Medical Optics, Bavaria Yachtbau, Dornbracht, Acer, HEAD and Singapore Airlines.


  1. Jacobus, John L. (2013). The Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild: An Illustrated History. McFarland. Page 180. ISBN 9780786493388.
  2. Jacobus, John L. (2013). The Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild: An Illustrated History. McFarland. Page 180. ISBN 9780786493388.
  3. "BMW's Idea Lab: Driving Design For More Than Cars". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. Neil, Dan (May 5, 2012). "The Ferrari With The Dragon Tattoo". The Wall Street Journal. p. D2.
  6. Gerzanics, Mike (27 April 2010), "FLIGHT TEST: Embraer Phenom 300", Flightglobal, Reed Business Information, archived from the original on 4 May 2012, retrieved 28 March 2015
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