The creative orchestrator: Sonja Schiefer.

Munich – December, 2019. Sonja Schiefer is director
of the Shanghai studio of BMW Group Designworks. A creative
orchestrator, Sonja has worked for Designworks in leading positions
and several locations since 2001. Vested with a profound design
background she has more than two decades of experience in the
international design industry combining an interdisciplinary view on
design with strategic know how and cross-industrial expertise. Sonja
is a strong driving force behind many of Designworks’ innovation
projects. Since July 2019, she has been leading the Shanghai studio’s
design vision and daily operations, with an ambitious team of
creatives and strategists.


Before joining Designworks in Los Angeles Sonja worked for 10 years
at frogdesign in both San Francisco as well as New York where she set
up and led the studio.


What is the future of mobility and what is Designworks’ role
in it?

Schiefer: Mobility has become increasingly
multi-layered. We need to carefully interweave a number of different
solutions to achieve a seamless and joyful experience for people.
Designworks achieves this by thinking about future mobility as an
ecosystem and offers solutions which are strategic, but also exciting
and emotional.


With Designworks’ studios across the globe, what is the
specific focus of the Designworks Shanghai studio you represent?

Schiefer: For the Shanghai studio, providing a solid
understanding of the local culture and customer is a priority. It
means having a finger on the pulse and bringing observations and
stories from the market to the BMW Group. Based on this reality, we
develop concepts and solutions which impact experiences, products and
services. Our collaborations with partners outside of the automotive
field strengthen our insights across multiple industries and broaden
our perspectives. 


Where do you see Designworks in the future and what sort of
things are you keen to encourage as director of the studio?

Schiefer: Designworks is a creative visionary
bringing BMW Group together with external partners. In an increasingly
complex and challenging world, the ability to bridge is an invaluable
quality. Broad, connected thinking is key and allows future visions to
drive immediate next steps.


What is your design ethos? What sources of inspiration for the
field of design should we use more in the future?

Schiefer: For me, design is an optimistic visionary
force. A creative thinker is able to envision a probable future but
also find an expression which aligns and excites. The designer should
be a holistic problem solver tackling complex challenges and finding
solutions which move us forward. Successful design needs strong
functional leadership both on a corporate level as well as within
design teams. Design leaders and their teams provide the voice of
inspiration within the company, motivating everyone else. Key is the
ability to collaborate and influence across disciplines, thereby
connecting and promoting the design story to other functions.
Championing design and driving synergy between disciplines is the goal.


What makes Designworks unique?

Schiefer: Working for both BMW Group and external
industry partners, we are able to become a platform for exchange and
rich knowledge transfer. Exposure to external partners results in an
open minded attitude in our design team. This enables Designworks to
be a challenger for the BMW Group providing inspiration and
innovation. We offer a system thinking approach to challenge and
create positive impact by carefully orchestrating our creative
services. We work with an eye to the future – visionary but with the
goal of making a real difference in the world.