Transitions - A look ahead at what is driving "The Next" in Automotive Design in China for China.


The international auto industry’s focus was firmly on Shanghai last week, as the city hosted the 15th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, bringing together the thought leaders who are shaping the future of cars in the world’s largest auto market.

Many of the masterminds behind the car designs on show met the previous week at the Interior Motives China Conference, where they exchanged their views and experiences on the challenge of producing China-focused designs in an increasingly complex market.
CBi China Bridge’s in-depth understanding of designing specifically for Chinese auto consumers was in great demand from attendees, who included experts from global names such as BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Toyota, Volvo and Chery.

Cathy Huang, President of CBi China Bridge, chaired an expert panel, served as a keynote speaker on another, and joined lauded car design guru Chris Bangle on stage in a conference round-up.

She noted how CBi China Bridge’s decade of experience helping clients  understand the needs, desires and motivations of local Chinese consumers put the design consultancy ahead of the curve, and that this was recognized by the large number of industry leaders seeking its expertise.

“A decade ago, car production in China was all about capacity and getting into the market, but that's no longer the case,” said Cathy. “Now the focus is on developing in China for Chinese consumers, which is why most car firms now have dedicated design studios based here. This is also why there was more interest than ever at this year's conference about understanding these consumers. This is the value that CBi China Bridge offers. The major players in the industry see this, and are enlisting China Bridge to help them succeed in this market as it rapidly evolves.”

Euen Sey, editor at event organizer Interior Motives magazine, echoed Cathy's views. “When I chaired the first ever Interior Motives Conference here in Shanghai back in 2007, there was very much an atmosphere of ‘us and them’ in the room [...] fast-forward to 2013 and the landscape of Chinese design is very different. Chinese and Western designers now work hand-in-hand.”

Chris Bangle is the former Chief of Design for BMW, and recognized as the world's leading authority on car design. Joining him and Cathy on stage for the show's finale were Klaus Busse, Head of Interior Design at Chrysler; Gustavo Guerra, Chief Designer at the Volvo Group Design Center Shanghai; Li-Chih Fu, Director of Product Planning & Design at GAC Toyota; and Bumsuk Lim, Professor of Transportation Design at the Art Center College of Design. 

“The collection of talent both on-stage and off was immeasurable, and the inspiration it offered will help elevate the car design industry in China to new levels,” Cathy said. 



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