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Founded (1972)
Founder(s) Charles Pelly
Headquarters Newbury Park, California, United States
Key people Laurenz Schaffer, President
Employees 130+ (2010)
Parent BMW AG

DesignworksUSA is a global design consultancy based in Newbury Park, California, United States, with design studios in Munich, Germany, Shanghai, and Singapore. Established independently in 1972 by Charles Pelly, it was acquired by BMW in 1995 and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of BMW Group. Its current president is Laurenz Schaffer.[1] In 2012 DesignworksUSA is celebrating four-decades of visionary innovation that has spanned countless milestones and accolades.


The design studio was founded in 1972 by designer Charles Pelly. The company opened in Malibu Canyon with only three designers and grew out of Southern California's design trends that took root in a vibrant car culture. 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, because of its extensive knowledge in seating design and ergonomic development, DesignworksUSA received its first BMW project, the BMW 850 seat. In the same year, the company moved to Agoura. In 1988, DesignworksUSA moved to Newbury Park, and began designing for Nokia and Siemens.

DesignworksUSA's reputation grew in the 1990s when the firm began working with Nokia, Compaq, Siemens and Adidas. In 1991 BMW acquired a large percentage of the company, and DesignworksUSA started its first car exterior design project in 1993 for the 1998 BMW 3 Series (E46). In May 1995 BMW AG purchased the remaining percentage of DesignworksUSA. At this time artist David Hockney painted an Art Car in the studio. In 1998 DesignworksUSA opened a studio in Munich, and in 1999, Henrik Fisker was named President.

In 2001 Adrian van Hooydonk became president, and in 2002 DesignworksUSA 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 DesignworksUSA's Munich studio, became president. In April 2012 BMW Group DesignworksUSA opened a new studio in Shanghai.[2]

Throughout the last 40 years, Designworks used future thinking and cross-fertilization to create significant solutions for practically every industry. With the agencies unique approach to cross-fertilization Designworks creates constant direct value for the BMW Group and for external clients through the increase of knowledge, competency and outside learnings from the spectrum of markets that Designworks services.


DesignworksUSA provides design and consulting services in the following areas:

  • Product, Transportation, Automotive, Environmental and Interaction Design
  • Design Communication, Research, and Strategy
  • Sustainability Consulting
  • Creative Engineering
  • Color, Material, and Finish Design
  • 3D Visualization and Modeling

DesignworksUSA serves as the creative partner for BMW Group, shaping the future of BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. A unique working arrangement requires DesignworksUSA to equally balance its work between BMW Group and external clients. This gives external clients access to their relationship and insights from BMW; while simultaneously bringing cross-category design expertise to BMW Group.

Recent clients have included Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Starbucks, Coca Cola, Boeing Business Jets, Embraer, Pilatus, John Deere, Advanced Medical Optics, BAVARIA Yachts, Dornbracht, Acer, Head and Singapore Airlines.


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  2. ^ Neil, Dan (May 5, 2012). "The Ferrari With The Dragon Tattoo". The Wall Street Journal. p. D2. 

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