November 21 2012
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Western aesthetic tastes influenced by Chinese design

In this post, Business Development Consultant Martin Wooler reflects on how for the first time, our Western aesthetic tastes may well be beginning to be influenced by Chinese design.

Flicking through the latest Autumn 2012 edition of Interior Motives in my lunch break the other day, I was struck by the Chinese prominence in current car design: Not only Chinese cars and local car design studios, but the international vehicle majors such as Daimler (their new Denza all-electric luxury brand crafted by local Chinese stylists and concept car launched at Auto China in Beijing).

Chinese Car Design_ExteriorFeatured image credit: Denza, above image credit: Avtolog

Given the growth in vehicle registrations compared to in the West, it’s not surprising that cars are being designed increasingly to meet Chinese preferences. Bentley (owned by VW) now sells more cars in China than in the UK, where the vehicles are produced. The new Range Rover, while designed in Warwickshire, UK must take into account insights learnt of preferences in form, colour, trim and materials in China as well as India (where parent Tata Group is of course based).
Yet, cars are global products, so it’s probably already the case that these design influences are being seen on the roads of Hammersmith and Houston, as well as Hangzhou. Unlike electronics products that have been manufactured in China for a decade or more, with billion dollar development budgets, cars are styled exactingly to reflect lifestyles and aspirations – and are highly visible design statements compared to other consumer items.
Chinese Car Design_Interior

Above image credit: Denza

Few people are going to notice or be influenced by design changes that Lenovo, the Chinese-owned computer manufacturer, has brought to laptop PCs since buying the IBM brand in 2005. Car design, however, may well be the first time that Chinese design influences are being brought to the rest of the world – and subtly. The Fiat 500 proclaims the option of a 1970’s ‘pool ball’ gear knob, but will we be quite so aware of the effect of Chinese design driven through successive future car models?
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Posted by PDD

Languages spoken: Global.
The last thing that inspired me: Design and Innovation.
My dream project: A project that makes a difference in the world.
My obsession: Develop successful, award-winning and world-first products and experiences.