LOS ANGELES - Chuck Pelly, the founder of Designworks/USA, BMW's California design studio, plans to open a 1,000-student design school in Southern California by 2004.
The Design Academy, as Pelly tentatively calls it, probably will be in Irvine, a growing hub of automotive design activity in Orange County. But Pelly said he wants his school to be more than just a car-styling mecca. He said, he wants 'the whole universe' of design to be taught, including entertainment and biomechanical design.
'I want it to fit more into the classic interdisciplinary model, to make design more real-world,' Pelly said.
Within the next year, Pelly hopes to attract foundation money to open a research and consulting center. That will be the genesis of the school that will open with the motto 'The Power of Collective Thought.'
Pelly formed Designworks/USA in 1975 and ran the studio as BMW increased its stake through the early 1990s. The automaker made the studio a wholly owned subsidiary in 1995.
Pelly left the company in February 2000 to start Pelly Design Management in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Orange County already is home to in-house design studios for Mazda and Mitsubishi as well as for such design-engineering shops as ItalDesign California and Porsche Engineering Services. Ford's Premier Automotive Group will locate its designers in Irvine shortly after its headquarters opens this summer.
Pelly will face strong competition for talented faculty and students. Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is a world-renowned school, while the Academy of Art College in San Francisco has a burgeoning automotive program in addition to an established core design curriculum.