Designer Profile: Martina Starke, Head of Colours and Materials at BMW Design
2013 saw Martina Starke appointed Head of Colour and Trim Design and Material Technology at BMW Design. As such, she is responsible for anything to do with colours and materials pertaining to the exterior and interior design of BMW vehicles – a brief that ranges from exterior paintwork colours and special finishes to the design of seat upholstery, customised door and steering wheel trims, all the way to decorative trim features. A qualified textile designer, she joined the BMW Group in 2001, since when she has been responsible, among other things, for colour and material design for the larger model series and for BMW Individual.
Martina Starke began her training as an apprentice textile pattern designer, during which time her interest in materials and textiles was able to really grow. This was followed by studies in textile design at Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Prior to joining BMW as a colour and material designer in 2001, she worked as a freelance textile designer specialising in interior carpeting and textiles. While she was still studying, a project Martina Starke worked on for the British interior design label Designer’s Guild gave her a taste of what it is like to work in an international team. It was here that she saw how a constuctive exchange of ideas can be used to the advantage of both her work and her personal development. Another formative influence during the early years of her apprenticeship was the trend forecaster Lideweij Edelkoort, whose integrated view of design in general and materials in particular continues to have an impact on Martina Starke’s work today. Whether she’s collaborating with big-name designers or working together with her team, Martina Starke finds this integrative approach to be an important asset for her work. And that work revolves around one constant: people.
Besides special exterior paint finishes, there is one key aspect of automotive design that falls within Martina Starke’s remit: affective perception in the vehicle cabin. The design of a BMW car’s interior is seen as continuation of the exterior. As a result, a BMW is about more than pure functionality for Martina Starke; she believes a car is only made complete by the emotions that are triggered when people come into contact with it. That is why she likes to focus on what for her are two fundamental factors: the person and the material. She perceives design as a challenge to be resolved from the user’s standpoint: what is needed? What are the customer’s requirements? A thorough understanding of people is the key here, since aesthetics alone cannot provide the answer. Material is the second intrinsic element in Martina Starke’s field of work: it is of overriding importance to her, as the materials used in a car form the primary means of contact with it – whether it be leather, wood or, more exclusive still, lambskin. A vehicle occupant’s sense of well-being is also influenced by his or her perception of the materials, so Martina Starke ultimately allows herself to be guided by their composition and properties in order to produce an authentic feel when styling an object.
On the personal side, Martina Starke enjoys visiting exhibitions. She is fascinated by the painting of contemporary artists such as Wolfgang Kessler and Tobias Vetter. Contemplating the works of Olafur Eliasson, Pipilotti Rist, Rosemarie Trockel or the fabric books of Louise Bourgeois helps to give her a new perspective on things. Martina Starke also admires the creativeness of well-known designers like Partricia Urquiola, Stefan Sagmeister and Jonathan Ive. Works by architects such as Norman Foster or from the offices of Herzog & de Meuron likewise keep providing her with inspiration for her work. White is the dominant theme at home, where she blends design objects like the Arco lamp and La Chaise furniture with family heirlooms and modern accessories. Martina Starke lives in Munich and is married with one daughter.