Bright spark: BMW's electric i3 delivers the technology of the future
The future of driving came significantly closer to the present when BMW launched its all-electric BMW i3 in the world's most forward-thinking cities. The BMW i3 is a clean sheet design that pairs lightweight efficiency with a crisp, contemporary interior, placing you in the heart of the city. Writer, curator and Wallpaper* editor-at-large Henrietta Thompson took a tour of some new London landmarks in the company of Nicolas Roope, creative director at Poke London and a designer with a keen eye for change in all its forms
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'The future is already here in so many respects,' says Thompson, adding that 'the way we're getting around our cities is already changing quite dramatically.' 'The seeds of huge change are upon us at the moment,' agrees Roope, 'but it's very early days in many respects - we're seeing the early signs of much bigger change.' At Poke, Roope's team uses digital culture to shape the world around us, be it through data gathering, rapid prototyping, brand building or actual heart-in-the-mouth physical experiences conjured up through technology. Projects range from the identity and strategy for Here East, a new creative hub in London’s Olympic Park, to collaborations with Mulberry, EE and the BBC.
Roope cites the benefits of smart, connected densification. 'There's an abundance of people and opportunities in the city - that's why people are there - but there's a scarcity of other things like transportation. The car-sharing schemes that are emerging are a very sensible, efficient use of a finite resource.' The BMW i3 is one of many building blocks in the modern city. Compact, agile, efficient and seamlessly connected to the ebb and flow of traffic, it's what Roope calls an 'integrated, shared resource within the transport system'.
For Thompson, materials innovation goes hand in hand with the data revolution. 'The BMW i3 makes use of some really interesting, very high tech materials such as lightweight carbon fibre to help augment efficiency; materials could go a long way towards changing transport of the future,' she says. The BMW i3 is rich in material innovations, with a sculpted interior trim formed from renewable natural fibres, recycled plastics, responsibly sourced, fast-growing eucalyptus wood and naturally tanned leather. Overall, the company estimates that 95 per cent of every BMW i3 can be put back into the production cycle, minimising the overall environmental impact of this zero emission car still further.
And what of tomorrow's roads? 'Think of the driverless car as a dynamic bus route,' Roope muses. 'At the moment we have the bus, which is the album, and the car, which is the single. And we don't have playlists at the moment. So what if driverless cars become the playlists of transportation?' The BMW i3 will surely be at the top of the charts.