One of the great treats in picking up your BMW in Munich is your chance to visit BMW Welt (BMW World, if your German is rusty). BMW Welt is an extraordinary example of modern German architecture and a sight to behold.
For any car enthusiast, this is a trip to the Holy Land. A return to some long forgotten world where quality, craftsmanship, and solid engineering mattered. Few automakers in the world (are you listening, Detroit?) could pull off an experience quite like BMW Welt. Moreover, even fewer could pull it off and actually mean it.
What some would refer to as “German engineering” is really just old fashioned attention to detail and pride in craftsmanship. But the attention to detail belies an important distinction: It’s not sufficient to pay lavish attention to your work when you’re producing something for someone else, you need to pay lavish attention to the problem you are trying to solve. Considering the user’s needs throughout the entire design process is of paramount importance. The features, bells, and whistles don’t matter if they don’t actually meet a need. Moreover, your design needs to become a seamless part of the user’s experience.
A well designed solution feels effortless, often obvious. It’s so simple and elegant you ask yourself, “Why hasn’t it always been this way?” A great designer anticipates the problems his users encounter in the real world and tailors his solution to specifically meet those needs. This mantra applies to everything in life: From the report you prepare for your boss so he can present to his superiors, to the software you write for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, to the car whose every inch and surface you’ve agonized over for months. This attention to detail in conjunction with consideration of the end user is something everyone could benefit from adding to their personal and professional lifestyle.
For many of us, this pursuit of simplicity is what drives us to the products we use. Braun did not manufacture appliances with the most features, they stuck with solving basic needs with elegant, beautiful simplicity. Apple does not cram every bell and whistle into their products, they focus on elegantly solving important needs while keeping common tasks simple and straight-forward. BMW does not produce cars that out-feature the competition, they create cars that are tailored to the driving experience in every way.
Each of these companies made a very distinctive choice and ingrained it in their DNA. They chose to focus on users, not on tech specs, feature lists, or product comparisons. That the products are often full of features is delightful. That each of these features is naturally and cleanly expressed to be most useful is great design.
Your trip to BMW Welt is completely tailored to your experience. From learning about the exact car you’ve purchased, to exploring BMW’s history of automotive innovation, and seeing first hand what goes into the design and production of each vehicle.
BMW isn’t about flashy looks or being pretty (though they certainly make attractive vehicles), BMW is about the ultimate driving experience. Visiting the Welt is meant to remind you of this in every way possible.
And so, for anyone who appreciates the above, visiting one of the few places in the world where a company focuses on this so intently is a religious experience. In a world of quantity over quality and “we’ll make it up on volume”, finding a place that values what they produce is a rare gem. That you get to immerse yourself in that atmosphere is like a breath of fresh air.