Design Talk with Martina Starke and Boris Bernaskoni

Martina Starke, Head of Colour and Trim Design BMW Individual, Marina Gisich, contemporary art gallerist, and Boris Bernaskoni, architect reflect on their personal definition of the term luxury and the possibilities that come with modern architecture and modern design


Boris Bernaskoni architecture


Marina Gisich on the current state of contemporary art in Russia

“Over the last 20 years there has been a huge upheaval in the Russian art market. Yet there are currently just five or six professional galleries that can draw on international experience. I believe there has to be an even bigger effort and a great deal of personal commitment to raise contemporary Russian art to an acceptable level. We’re working hard at it. It’s a major concern of mine.”


Boris Bernaskoni on the current state of contemporary architecture in Russia

“As you can imagine, a lot has been happening on the architectural front as well in the last 20 years. We have celebrated many different architectural innovators, and a number of interesting contemporary edifices have been erected in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities. Also, there are a lot of Russian architects who don’t work here at all but are involved in international architectural competitions. So one senses a great deal happening here, too. I believe we’re taking great strides forward.”


“If you’ll allow me this comment: the contemporary architectural style as seen around the world has its origins in Russia. It essentially emerged right after the revolution. Today we have a tremendous opportunity to create a new idiom for architecture and design. So I’m very optimistic in terms of modern architecture and modern design.”


New BMW 7-Series exterior



Marina Gisich on her personal definition of luxury

“For me, luxury is the opportunity to be in spacious surroundings, to live in them and to enjoy them. They must protect me and give me the sense that they belong to me alone, that they are large, grand and beautiful. In the end everything is personal. In my view, art is space which I shape by means of unusual things. I can decide what to buy and what to surround myself with. That’s luxury in my book.”


Martina Starke on individuality in automotive design

“Car design is just as multilayered as architecture. Let’s take the BMW 7 Series: here we have this car with its imposing presence and the spaciousness we expect of this class, which Marina has already spoken about. We also offer our customers several special editions when they want something exceptional and unique. Here’s just one example: we had a customer who wanted a special wood from a tree in his garden integrated into the car. I believe these minute details in the manufacturing process are part of what makes our vehicles so individual.”


Boris Bernaskoni architecture



Boris Bernaskoni on luxury in contemporary architecture

“For me luxury in architecture means, firstly, simplicity as opposed to complexity. Today that is very important because everything is getting more and more complex. Secondly, energy – specifically energy in terms of efficiency and savings. The key thing is how the available space can be put to efficient use without consuming too much energy. Which brings us to the third point – space and the ergonomics of space, i.e. the way in which you use space. Because space is a luxurious commodity. Number four would be time, which in architecture is often regarded as a great luxury. 


Every building is like a very long journey. Sometimes more than ten years pass between the initial plans and their implementation. Which in my view means the designers and architects who can complete a project faster will be ahead of the field. After all, customers want their building to be finished as quickly as possible – faster as well as bigger and better. Fifthly – and for me most importantly – meaning. Today we live in a world with all kinds of different ideas, different messages and different financial providers. With all these information flows, what is important to me is meaning. Every object, every building should have something like a message. Very, very important, very clear and very interesting for everyone.”



Marina Gisich gallery St Petersberg




Martina Starke on the global universality of luxury at BMW

“Aspects such as spaciousness or a passion for minute details are relevant to every country. But if we look at the Chinese market, for example, customers there insist on having red details in the car because red is their lucky colour. Or they want special embroidery with symbols. If you go to the Middle East, there are other colour preferences due to the lighting conditions there. But if we boil it down to the essentials, when it comes to this class of car, everyone wants value retention and the meticulous, detailed premium quality for which BMW is internationally renowned.”



BMW Design trim interior detail




Martina Starke on how the time factor impacts on automotive design

“Today people spend a lot of time in their cars, which is why we aim to create vehicles that are as comfortable as we can possibly make them. If you sit in a car for a long time, it becomes almost like a kind of living room. And you start to notice the tiniest nuance – you see it, feel it. So attention to detail is very important, especially in the interior of a car, because that’s where you spend your time.”


Marina Gisich on the future development of luxury in art

“I’m sure that art of the future won’t bestow any great luxury on us. But I do know that we invest our whole energy and every last ounce of optimism into everything we do. Hopefully that will considerably ease the challenging task of taking this movement forward and involving more and more people in the process. If people begin to take an interest in art, they begin to discover an emotional response to it. They then buy art and bring luxury into their home.”


Boris Bernaskoni on the development of the luxury concept in contemporary architecture

“Architecture should be part of our lifestyle because architecture is like a second skin, a second layer of clothing. That’s why it is very important to me for architecture to be seen as part of society. That’s why every developer, every architect – and indeed anyone who designs anything – should first consider what his or her design or building will do for society. The future of luxury in architecture will be secured if architecture becomes a truly significant aspect of our lifestyle. Every second, every minute, every hour, every day.”



Marina Gisich gallery St Petersberg


Martina Starke on the meaning of sustainability and connectivity for the future of BMW

“The BMW Group has been the industry leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes for eight years. We are deeply involved in the issue of sustainability and have declared this our major goal for the future. Next year, in 2013, we will be launching the first electric car onto the market. Another important area is connectivity. 


Today smartphones connect everybody with everybody. At the same time we are spending a lot of money on our cars, spending a lot of time in them, and we also want to be connected to the outside world while inside them. I can promise that we will continue to produce cars in the future that guarantee driving enjoyment. Needless to say, though, we have to achieve that in as efficient and sustainable a way as we possibly can.”


Marina Gisich on how Russia relates to luxury

“I’m certain the Russians love luxury. We appreciate luxury and quality because it’s in our nature. We love expensive objects that are stylish and beautiful. Luxury people want to show that they are perfect, which today may be seen as a mistake. But it isn’t always a mistake. Russians display their luxury in an extrovert way.”