Car Designer Profile: Marcus Syring, Head of Exterior Design at MINI
Marcus Syring has been Head of Exterior Design at MINI since 2002. Born in Westphalia in northwest Germany, he deems automotive design to be the toughest and yet also the most stimulating of the product design disciplines. There is no other area he finds so appealing with so many intriguing challenges to offer. He puts the fascination of the whole design process down to the unique nature of each new job: guidelines and framework conditions that are in a constant state of flux, a sense of aesthetic perception that keeps evolving, and the ever-changing desires of society and customers.
Design as a vocation
Marcus Syring opted for BMW Group Design as soon as he had completed his studies in product design at the University of Wuppertal, first joining the design specialists at BMW Motorsport GmbH BMW in 1991 before moving on to the Design Department of BMW Technik GmbH in 1997. Since the relaunch of the MINI brand under the aegis of the BMW Group in 2000 he has been part of the Exterior Design team at MINI. Marcus considers what he does to be a vocation. A pivotal moment came when a girlfriend made him see the potential of product design as a profession, and he immediately knew that was the only thing he really wanted to do. The designer describes the time he first laid eyes on a clay model during a work placement as a watershed moment for his career path. What’s more, it was the culmination of a childhood dream: even before he was old enough to go to school, Marcus amused himself by using play dough to transform conventional notchback toy cars into fantasy sports machines!
Eye for detail
Recent models whose exterior design Marcus Syring was ultimately responsible for and which can be seen out on the road today include the MINI Coupé and the MINI Roadster. He refers to the BMW Z3 Coupé and the MINI Clubman as career milestones. For Marcus, good design can be measured by its functional perspectives in three different ways. Besides the physical technical function, encompassing aspects such as ergonomics and all types of technical demands, design must always fulfil an aesthetic function, too. And at the same time, good design also has to meet various requirements in terms of its symbolic function. Marcus sees himself as a commissioned artist in the classical sense. The creative scope he is granted by a brief that gives an exact description of what is required without specifying the solution is of crucial importance for his creative output.
On the personal side
Besides architecture, fashion and product and consumer design, Marcus finds art a great source of inspiration – though the artistic movement or genres are by no means the decisive factor. What is important is that the piece is able to captivate the observer with an emotive appeal expressed, for example, through its wealth of contrasts. He believes the works by architects Herzog & deMeuron are prime examples of this, as they are not confined by any notion of continually recurring formalism – rather, it is the very uniqueness of their edifices, tailored to their surroundings, purpose and client, that makes them stand out. In his free time, the designer enjoys visiting museums, reading and listening to music ranging from Jamie Cullum to Paul Weller. He keeps himself fit with jogging, swimming and yoga. Marcus lives in Munich, is married and has a young daughter.