It Starts With a Sketch.

“My job is to design a car. However, a car is not just the sketch.” – Anders Warming, Head of MINI Design.

For Anders Warming, automotive design has been a part of life since he was old enough to hold a pen. Now, as Head of MINI Design since 2010, he’s charged with guiding the creative vision of MINI forward while ensuring its most beloved qualities remain boldly present for timeless effect.

A new short film picks the brain of this exemplary creative and explores the environment and energies that help shape the MINI family you know and love. Watch it and read on to learn how one of the most passionate minds in the design world today goes about making your MINI the icon it’s always been.

According to Anders, the sketch is a crucial part of the design phase and one that can’t be imitated on Photoshop. “In today’s world where you have to sketch on computers,” he advises, “I think you have to also sketch unplugged.”

The 30 person MINI Design Team that Anders leads – comprised of fields such as ‘Exterior’, ‘Interior’ and ‘Colour & Trim’ – still relies heavily on tactile artisan tools like graphite pencils, ballpoint pens, tape, markers and clay. Naturally, computers play an important role in ensuring technical accuracy and connectivity, and in streamlining production, but ink smudged thumbs and fresh pencil shavings are equally essential elements to a vibrant and productive design process at MINI.

Achieving a balance of aesthetics and engineering is another important challenge for Anders, which can be seen played out in the studio where all creative output is synthesized. The innovative atmosphere of the open-plan MINI Design studio area is nurtured by its close proximity to the engineering department. Anders explains the fruitful results of this approach: “We have a look right into the courtyard where pieces [...], cars [...] and prototypes are being delivered and at the end of the day I actually think it’s important for creativity. You have to have a certain buzz around you to keep this creative area going.”

Though Anders always has a pen on him, cars aren’t the only things that fill his sketchbook. Actually, he’s found that practicing a healthy mix of creative disciplines helps hone his automotive vision. “The things that really keep me going are expressive things, like making music, like painting pictures, like creating cars. Also the giving thing, the creating thing, the making stuff, refuels my batteries.”

A painter, too, Anders feels a connection between the phenomenon of dipping his brush and designing a MINI. The ‘white canvas moment,’ he says, is the moment you have to commit to a vision and make up your mind. That first mark is then built upon and affects every step that follows. “Each image, each little block is then going to end up as a composition. It is very comparable, actually, to the process of designing a car, because it’s just one step on the path to creating something that’s then going to remain.”

When he’s not at the studio or painting, Anders plays solo piano and plays guitar in his band, The Simple Sound. His current MINI, an Eclipse Grey MINI John Cooper Works Clubman makes for the perfect ride to haul instruments while still enjoying every minute of the commute.

Ultimately, Anders’ creative side projects serve to enhance his main task, which is apply long-term vision beyond a crucial sketch phase. “My job is to design a car,” he explains. “However, the car is not just the sketch. It’s a very complex process of thousands of little details that have to come together in one harmonious image. […] Designing a MINI really has to have the focus of being timeless design – something that will be around forever. I want to make sure that people who look at these cars in 15 and 20 and 30 years are still going to say ‘That’s a really nice looking car.’ ”

Judging by the iconic work that’s gone from the sketchpad to the street, we think he’s on track to achieving that goal of timeless design.

WATCH THE VIDEO