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Who's Where: Brett Patterson and Rohan Saparamadu join Geely’s Shanghai studio

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0800

Brett Patterson and Rohan Saparamadu have joined Geely as chief designers, based in Shanghai. They will both report to the company's design director Ken Ma.

Patterson most recently worked as a contract designer at GM Europe's Design Center, Rüsslesheim, and has worked for GM for total of 14 years on a wide range of vehicle development programmes in Australia, Germany, Sweden and USA.

Working alongside Patterson is Rohan Saparamadu, who will be the chief designer for all A-segment cars and SUVs.

Patterson will be working on both interior and exterior design mostly on mid- and large-segment cars.

Brett is also the founder and former editor of Car Design News and was responsible for the site's concept, technical development, editorial production and event photography from 2000 to 2008.

"The young designers here are sketching at a high level but not so experienced in full-size model execution," says Patterson about China. "That's where I'm useful to them, in 3D execution as well as bringing European standards in production detail resolution.

"Geely has typically had very fast development times, so they don't really follow all the processes that European brands have for refining the design, but that's one of the things they are aiming to improve," Patterson adds.

Patterson's major projects include his proposal for the first-generation Zafira scale model that was selected for full-scale development (1994), a Saab 9-5 full-size model proposal (1993) and acting as lead exterior designer on the Opel Omega MCE (1996-1997). He also worked from 1997 to 1999 on Opel Omega/Vectra architecture studies as assistant chief designer exteriors.

He told Car Design News that a big draw for him was Geely's plan to gradually bring its diverse models under the control of the new downtown Shanghai design studio. It is hoped that this will bring a more consistent design strategy.

Rohan Saparamadu, who spent 23 years at General Motors and two years at Maruti-Suzuki in India, will also assist Ken Ma and senior vice president of design Peter Horbury in their efforts to enhance and strengthen the brand image of Geely. He will also be assisting Ma in expanding and strengthening the Design Center so that all the design programs can be handled in-house.

After graduating from CCS in Detroit, in 1985 Saparamadu joined GM Design with his first design being an "Automotive Shape" for the future. The shape that was designed to be 'timeless' is still displayed at one of the entrances to the GM Design Center.

During the late '80s he designed the Buick Bolero concept car and was also part of the design team that developed concept cars such as the Cadillac Voyage, Buick Essence and Buick Lucern.

During his two years at Maruti-Suzuki as chief designer he worked on the development of a 2013 model and most importantly, worked with the design leadership in building up a strong design team with the local talent.

Saparamadu says of China, "For any car designer who is passionate about design and gets excited about design work, this is the place that will give you that excitement! You are already behind, even before you start the race!"

"Passing up the knowledge and the skills you gained over the years to the younger designers is always the rewarding part of my job," he adds.


By Rufus Thompson