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Car Design Awards winners benefit from Northumbria placement

Mon, 01 Nov 2010


The winners of the inaugural Car Design Awards China competition were announced at a glamorous ceremony in the studios of CH-Auto during the Beijing auto show in April, marking the culmination of successful competition. Seven talented students – who had responded to briefs set by GM, PSA Peugeot Citroen, SAIC (with its MG brand) and Volkswagen – were presented with awards in five categories, and five were given the opportunity to attend Northumbria University's Transportation Design course, in the UK, on a two week placement.

The five students – Bingyang Hu, Geng Li, Yanchao Wang, Kaiji Pu and Liang Chen – began this exciting, yet challenging journey in December 2009, when they entered the 2010 Car Design Awards China competition. Their concepts won the Best Exterior Design, Best Innovation, Best Interior Design, Best Lifestyle and Best Design In Harmony With China's Heritage categories respectively, landing them into course leader Matteo Conti's third year transportation design class on 4 October 2010. 

"Everything was so different from what we were used to, but the teacher and classmates were extremely welcoming," said Yanchao Wang, one of the two students who won the Best Interior Design category. He also secured an internship at Awards-sponsor Johnson Controls.

The award winners mixed with existing students in various groups and were immediately immersed in the course, themed 'HVLC (High Value Low Carbon)'. The task was to redesign the front and rear end of an electric scooter that was going to be mass-produced by Elecscoot in the coming year.

"In China it was really rare for students to design a project for production," said Bingyang Hu, winner the Best Exterior Design category with his Citroën Cocoon concept. "Everything was so practical this time, we had seen and tried the scooter we would work on."

Course leader Matteo Conti said the objective of the project was "to be involved in an industrial collaboration project with industry, and be involved in project reviews with industry clients." This approach is common practice at the University. "We focus on research and design development methods which are also used in the industrial design sector in order to produce better and more resolved design solutions," Conti said. "Historically our school is renowned for teaching design to make students reflect and become great thinkers."

Geng Li, winner of the Best Innovation Category, was recruited by joint venture carmaker Soueast Mitsubishi right after the Awards. "Students in the class seem to have better attention to detail, they spent hours on researching and feasibility studies," he told CDN about his time at Northumbria. "In China we tended to rush through the ideas and sketches."

"The atmosphere was relaxed but precise, we now understand that a rigorous process is a must for good design," added Yanchao Wang, agreeing with his peer. "We used to jump to the interesting bits too soon." 

Car Design Awards China 2010 was made possible by joint premier sponsors CH-Auto and the government of the Shunyi district of Beijing City. Competition sponsors also included Alcantara, Eagle Ottawa, Johnson Controls and Northumbria University. The awards ceremony was organized in partnership with Auto China 2010, an affiliate of CCPIT (the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade).

Following the successful first competition, Car Design News will soon be launching Car Design Awards China 2011. Briefs for the competition are currently being finalized and will be announced shortly, with continued sponsorship from Northumbria's School of Design. The school will extend next year's placement from two to three weeks to allow the students more time to showcase their ability as well as contribute to the course. 

The 2011 Car Design Awards competition will culminate in an awards ceremony on 17 April 2011, on the eve of the Shanghai auto show. For more information on the competition visit the website.

By Hua Xia and Eric Gallina