what makes a MINI: MINI design icons


MINI design icons

In the earlier question-and-answer article Anders Warming on Design and MINI, Warming talked about the essential elements of MINI design.  BMW and MINI have explicitly stated what the iconic MINI design elements are in a press release today:

MINI design icons.

Over the years, the styling of MINI cars has produced a host of design icons which have become synonymous with the brand as a whole and, in some cases, signature features of individual models. Collectively, these iconic elements have helped shape the identity of the brand and its cars.

Front end.

Dominated by the elliptical headlights set into its bonnet, the face of the MINI is extremely distinctive. The contemporary interpretation of the classic hexagonal radiator grille plays its part in defining the car’s eye-catching appearance. Other distinguishing features of the car’s face include a pair of “beauty spots” in the form of circular foglamps.

Wedge shape.

A shoulderline rising from front to rear and windows tapering towards the rear produce the hallmark MINI dynamic wedge shape.

Roof resting on top.

The design of the greenhouse – the glazed section of the passenger compartment – creates the impression of a band of glass wrapped around the car. The high-gloss black A, B and C-pillars are integrated into the glass surfaces. The contrast between the colour of the greenhouse and roof creates the impression of a “floating” roof resting on top of the greenhouse.

Side scuttle.

This design cue can trace its roots back to the very beginning; it follows the line of the welding seam sloping down the front side panel of the classic Mini.

Chromed door handles.

The chromed door handles of the classic Mini have since been revisited repeatedly, ensuring iconic status. Like a handshake, opening the door of a MINI represents the initial physical introduction between the car and its driver.

Vertically stacked rear lights.

The unmistakable, vertically stacked rear lights represent another nostalgic nod to the classic Mini. They are bordered by an elegant chrome surround sealed against the body without any direct connection to joins and seams.

Stance on the wheels.

The go-kart handling for which MINI is famed is the product of having its wheels mounted at each corner of the car – similarly to a go-kart. The mass-increasing “cascading” effect of the body as it heads down towards the wheels gives the car its essential roadholding.

Circular elements.

The interior of the car also references the classic Mini to create its air of authenticity. The clear structure of the controls is a typically MINI feature. Elliptical forms transplanting the style of the circular exterior elements inside the car add further distinctive touches.

Toggle switches.

Controls like the distinctive toggle switches add an extra flourish to the centre stack and even the roof liner.

Jewellery icons.

An array of chrome highlights and beautifully worked details are integrated like gems into the design of the car.


One thought on “what makes a MINI: MINI design icons

  • Matthew

    Nicely done.

    The only caveat I’d add, would be to the characterization of the interior. I could not bring myself to buy a MINI until I discovered the Lounge Leather option. There, the curved, or semi-_eliptical_, stitching was replaced by an emphasis on linear lines, and that was enough to get me over the hump.

    I’d also add that I’m a R50/53 snob. Most of the design characteristics outlined above seem, to _me_, muted in the designs that followed FS’s original interpretation. Just an opinion, of course. Not a condemnation of the R56 onward.

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