BMW’s Ultimate Design Experience

By Andrea Michaels

In this series, DesignDawgs asked top industry professionals to revisit some of their proudest achievements in event design.

Eight waves of journalists traveled to Vancouver, BC from August 26-September 20 of 2013 to experience the international media launch of the new BMW X5. Extraordinary Events was brought into this project by Vok Dams, a leading international marketing agency based in Germany. The objective was to create an event at which every detail supported the brand and the message — “Where Luxury Touches Adventure.” The jewel of the program was a custom-built structure called The BMW X5 City Lodge with design elements that touched on trendy exclusive design combined with pure nature, wild and primal beauty and thrilling outdoor lifestyle. Modernity and adventure permeated the press conference, scenic drives, off- road adventures and a variety of daytime activities.


THE BMW X5 City Lodge: Custom built for the ultimate reveal.

Through 26 consecutive days of actual program; eight waves of 50 journalists, totaling 400; and three days of nonstop activities provided to each wave – we had only one goal in mind: to create an environment where the journalists would write positively about the vehicle and the experience. That meant the food had to be perfect, environment had to be perfect, and drives had to allow for incredible publishable photos. Every detail had to be the perfect experience … no exceptions.

The destination was the inspiration for the overall concept. Vancouver combines an impressive skyline with a vibrant city life and pure nature with fjord coasts in front of majestic mountains resulting in a thrilling lifestyle that fits the new BMW X5 brand to perfection. That’s why we picked Vancouver. City and nature. Luxury and activity. The parallels between the destination and the product.

This was the inspiration for the creation of the BMW X5 City Lodge, the main location for the three-day program. Overlooking Coal Harbor and the North Shore Mountains, it was a magical location. The idea of the structure itself was inspired by the destination — Vancouver and the importance of the logging industry. We wanted to reveal the vehicle in a surrounding that showed both elements design and nature.

The majority of the structure consisted of different kinds of wood. Only a small amount of steel was needed to ensure a safe sub construction. In total, almost 48 tons of wood were used to create 200 square meters of interior space. The total height rose up to 10 meters. From the outside, the changing material and look between the raw wooden roof surface and the smooth white roof surface were most impressive. The three roof sheets had a combined surface of about 495 square meters.

“Form follows function” defined the construction principle — three wooden walls formed the walls and the roof at the same time, resulting in a self-supporting building that could be constructed with no anchoring into the floor, which was imperative in this city venue.

From the inside, the two most impressive parts of the structure were the combination of the projection screens as well as the “windows” onto Vancouver’s surroundings.


One of the inside wall surfaces was used in its full size as one 103 square meter projection screen, to create a cinema feeling allowing press to enjoy a short teaser film that was produced for this launch. This was followed by a 30-minute, high-resolution presentation of the new BMW X5. Based on the innovative Ventuz technique, it used a 3D model of the car to be able to zoom in and out, rotate and show the interior as well as the exterior views of the car.

A new and state-of-the-art Meyer Sound System was installed to do a complete surround sound. This as well as all tech equipment was inserted into custom made brackets embedded in the laminated wood, “floating” overhead as not to impede the architecture. This included the 7K projectors as well.

Abstract fabric panels were cut to fill the visuals edge to edge, and interior fabrics were cut to match the exterior abstract shapes. The “reveal” had to be timed to embrace the projections (remember fabric projections edge to edge) and on cue to perform a kabuki drop to reveal the actual car. After the reveal, press could look past the car where clear vinyl windows gave a three-sided overlook to the water line in the near distance.

Benches were built in matching woods and organic-looking vinyl safety LEDs were embedded into the floors for the steps. By night the three large walls of windows were shrouded by fabric. By day a pulley system unveiled a different aspect of the sunlight-drenched structure as the cars were handed out in full daylight mode.

8 - X5 City Lodge Interior

With much forethought, the key to the success of the sleek design BMW X5 Lounge was to make as many working parts invisible as possible. Ultimately, the only thing that we wanted all to see was the innovation and excitement of the brand and the experience.


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Winner of over 35 Special Event Gala Awards, Andrea has been honored as the first inductee into the Special Event Industry Hall of Fame. She is also the recipient of the coveted Special Event Award of Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has won the M.P.I. Global Paragon Award, and a SITE Crystal Award, among many other such honors. Andrea has planned and produced events since 1973, expanding from local Los Angeles based events to a dominant international presence.

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