Interview with Hussein Al-Attar


Style and efficiency – Hussein Al-Attar, designer at BMW Munich, understands how to combine those things, like almost nobody else. He is the head behind the smart bike, the new BMW headlights, the famous GT6 BMW Concept Teaser and some upcoming BMW cars, that we are unfortunately not allowed to talk about yet. But, we are more than happy to have him for an interview at tireless designer. Enjoy reading – get inspired.


smart bike_hussein







1. Hi Hussein. Where does you passion for cars come from and which car do you like most?

The passion already arose in the youngest age. I can’t tell when it exactly started, but the source surely was our old Mercedes W115, which my Dad bought brand new in 1976.
This car was a family member indeed and the day on which we had to sell it was a day of mourning. My mother knew my father only as a driver of this car. My brothers and I had no idea how anyone could own a different car. The stories my father had told about this car, and the presence it had in our lives, probably was the source for my creativity in this area and certainly the source of my passion for cars. And just in case it is not clear yet , the answer to the second part of the question: Mercedes-Benz W115.

2. Many Design Studios, students and even architects find inspiration in current design trends of the automotive industry. Why do you think does the automobile have such a big impact on the whole designer market?

It’s quite funny, since automotive designers draw inspiration for their work very often on from the trends of the product design and architecture scene. But that is how our creativity works. We allow influences and then let them inspire us. And the best influences are those, which rarely have anything in common with the object to be designed. That is how we free ourselves from the mainstream of our own area and try to come up with a result as a original as possible.

Among all products, which are designed for consumers, the car enjoys a special position due to its complexity and influence. Almost no other object affects our environment perception in such an evident way, like the car does. Our cities would look (and I’m saying this without any judgment) completely different without the car. It is a dominant product that surrounds us and has become a part of our environment. You can not ignore something, that we can not do without.

3. Imagine that cars won’t be produced anymore from tomorrow on. What would you like to design instead?

The most obvious answer would surely be to switch to product design. But maybe I’d rather see the situation as an opportunity for a fresh start. I might make short films! Since there is so much creativity in it, that field, I think it could possibly satisfy me as much as my current profession does. And even if I was „not allowed“ to design cars, it doesn’t mean I can’t sketch cars 🙂

4. How important is a wide spread skill set for a transportation designer? Is it really important to be good at concept development, CAD modeling, sketching AND clay modeling as well? Or is everyone automatically specializing in a discipline after some time in the industry anyway?

It is very important to have done everything yourself – at least once. Merely to reach the minimum of familiarity with the material and to know its limitations.

Since the car is such a complex product, you have to narrow down your process to focus your expertise. My process is (broadly speaking) concept development. This is the part where I’m sort of on my own. Of course here, it’s very important to be able to draw well. Should my design be selected to go further in development, my role switches from an executive to a supervising one. I don’t have to build up models, but I have to supervise a team of physical and virtual modelers to develop my idea from a sketch born on paper into a three dimensional object

5. In your opinion – will the electric car prevail?

The debate, which led to the current effort of car makers, was indeed politically driven, but has brought the development of e-cars far ahead. The development of this technology, which is as old as the car itself, was neglected for a long time. And now, funds and manpower are being invested into breathing in a new life into alternative drivetrains. It will not be long until the collective „automotive industry“ finds solutions to the current problems, such as the driving range. And then there will be little reasons to buy a car with a combustion engine.



Design by Hussein Al-Atter

6. In your opinion, how important is good freehand sketching these days in everyday work?

Very important! It still is the fastest way to illustrate an idea, if there is no computer around. And since we, creatives are surrounded by inspiring influences all the time, which make us always rethink our work, it might be a good idea to have a small sketchbook with us – to record an idea quickly. A rough sketch is enough most of the times. But only good drawers know how to put down a powerful sketch, that consists of just a few lines.


7. What software do you prefer in your studio and why?

I use PhotoShop – out of sheer habit. If there were a similar software, with which I had started with years ago, I would still use it today.

8. Who inspired you when you were a student?

The collective called „Internet“. We live in a time in which we enjoy unlimited access to sources of inspiration. There is a kind of swarm intelligence that creates and inspires. This collective is stronger and more creative than any single person. Of course this swarm is also influenced by individuals and in some cases even steered by them, but the swarm ejects the weakness and adapts only the strengths of its individual members.

9. MAC or Windows?

No difference. Just a matter of habit.

10. Do you have a tip or advice for all the students out there, that you would have loved to hear back in the days?

If you think that you are worse than the rest, you’re probably better than you think.
If you think that you are better than everyone else, you are probably not.
Believe in yourself, but remain modest.
Sorry, I’ve just run out of motivational phrases.

Thank you Hussein for sharing your thoughts and for giving advise. We are sure this will help a lot of people and young designers out there.
Check out Husseins Portfolio here and visit his great inspirational Blogs after.eight and before.eight.


Special Give Away for all those automotive-sketch-fans out there!

We raffle an original Concept Design Poster of Hussein Al-Attar, showing both artistic style and perfect understanding of form. If you like cars and illustration, just leave your opinion about the interview below or “like” and especially share our facebook post about this interviewhere, to get the chance to win. We will contact you, if you are the lucky one!

Stay tireless!

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