BMW’s international design team has a secret weapon – an Australian.
Calvin Luk, one of 30 BMW exterior designers worldwide, joined BMW seven years ago. His portfolio includes the 2015 1 Series facelift.
More significantly, he penned the completely new secondgeneration X1 SUV. No small achievement at the age of 29.
Luk’s story started when he accosted a BMW rep at the 2001 Sydney motor show, when he was 16. And from there, Luk has gone on to forge a name for himself as one of the Bavarian company’s hottest young designers.
“I was a huge BMW fan at the time because my parents had a 3 Series,” Luk told Wheels at the X1’s international launch in Austria. “There was a new Mini at the Sydney show. When I realised the sales rep was from head office in Germany, I asked if he could pass on a letter for me.”
When the sales rep agreed, Luk sprinted home to type a letter addressed to BMW’s then head of design, the controversial Chris Bangle. “I got a reply. It wasn’t from Chris, but it was from a senior designer and he answered all my questions.”
On BMW’s advice, Luk abandoned his degree at the University of Technology in Sydney. He moved to California, to focus on car design at the renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
“In the middle of my studies I did an internship at BMW in Munich, where I got to meet the designers in person. A job at BMW came after that.”
Luk quickly found himself entering, and winning, internal design competitions against colleagues he had idolised as a teenager.
“I was working with designers that I loved and respected. It was a dream come true.”
Now the young Aussie is heading up design teams on two new models, though of course he won’t reveal which ones.
“I love designing all types of cars,” says Luk, who takes inspiration from music, and even plays the drums in a jazz band.
“They’re all cool in their own way, but right now everyone is really fascinated with the i8. So designing the new i8 one day would be awesome.”