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Driving Creativity: How E Ink and BMW Collaborated to Bring Art to Life

Posted by E Ink on 2024-03-14

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA was unveiled at Frieze Los Angeles in February 2024 as a tribute to the 1991 Esther Mahlangu Art Car. Using E Ink Prism 3, the BMW Group and E Ink were able to replicate the historic designs of South African artist Esther Mahlangu, which pay homage to African culture and her Ndebele heritage.



The car features 1,349 segments that can be individually controlled, enabling a wide range of colors and patterns to be displayed on the vehicle, bringing Mahlangu’s vibrant artwork to life. To alter the structure and arrangement of the design, color particles can be changed by applying an electric charge which switches the seemingly static surface into a constantly changing design. The programmable, low-power, and durable nature of E Ink Prism 3 makes it the ideal material for creating dynamic, sustainable designs.


When asked about the modern rendition of her work, Mahlangu said, “It is fascinating to me to see how modern technology can expand my art and make it accessible to a completely new audience.”


BMW Nostokana and art car 12

BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA and BMW Art Car #12
Credit: BMW Group



BMW and E Ink

This is the third car that E Ink and BMW have worked on together. The black and white color-changing BMW iX flow featuring E Ink made its debut in 2022, and the BMW i Vision Dee, which can display up to 32 different colors and tens of thousands of pattern combinations, was revealed in 2023. With each collaboration, the two companies continue to push the boundaries of smart surfaces, bringing more colors, designs, and possibilities to life.


                BMW iVision Dee   BMW iX Flow

                         BMW i Vision Dee                                    BMW iX Flow featuring E Ink
                             Credit: E Ink                                                     Credit: BMW Group

About the Artist

When it comes to artistic expression, Esther Mahlangu is one of the greats. Her art is not only a personal expression, but a reflection of her culture and a local tradition that was handed down from generation to generation. Inspired by the Ndebele people, Mahlangu’s work uses geometric shapes and vibrant colors to keep the culture of her ancestors alive and share a piece of African culture with the world.

She made history as the first African and female artist to paint a BMW Art Car in 1991, following in the footsteps of artists such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and David Hockney. Her art has been showcased on a global stage, with exhibitions from Paris to New York, and she continues to inspire a new generation of artists to take pride in their cultures and express their creativity.


Mahlangu BMW
Mahlangu painting BMW Art Car #12 in 1991.
Credit: BMW Group


This collaboration continues to demonstrate how E Ink technology can transform the way surfaces are experienced, enabling personalization, creativity, and self-expression.

If you’re interested in seeing all of BMW’s Art Cars to date, you can check them out here.


Topics: Digital Paper, Transportation, Electronic Ink Technology, E Ink Color, BMW

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