Interview with Wulin Gaowa

Automotive Design 10 Jan 2012
Interview with Wulin Gaowa

General Motors has published an interview with Wulin Gaowa, who was recently appointed Design Director of the company’s new Advanced Studio in Shanghai, China.


GM China Advanced Technical CenterGeneral Motors’ Advanced Studio, a future hub for automotive design in Asia, will move into its new design studio in July 2012.

The new design center, to be located at GM’s GMIO and GM China headquarters in Shanghai, is seeking to hire automobile designers and other professional artists, such as clay sculptors, to create cars for China and other key global markets.

Wulin Gaowa, Design Director of GM China Advanced Studio, joined General Motors in September and is the first female designer appointed to oversee a GM design studio.

In the official interview reported below she explains the importance of hiring Chinese designers and tailoring features for China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Q: Why did GM choose to locate its newest advanced design studio in China?

GM China Advanced Technical Center China is the biggest auto market in the world and also the biggest overseas market for General Motors. As local demand keeps increasing, there’s need for more variety in our product designs.

After the design center is launched, our Chinese designers and engineers will be developing tailored vehicles here, following GM’s strategy of working in China, with China, and for China.

Q: How is it going with the hiring process? What kind of talents are you seeking to hire for the Advanced Design Studio?

We have found some qualified candidates here in China.  We’re looking for people that have a passion and superior talent in the area of car design, and are willing to challenge the status quo.

Hiring locally is important for us as the designers’ Chinese cultural background will help us better understand how to design mobile products that meet the needs of our customers in China. Overseas experience will be a plus and good support to achieve global standard.

I’ve been visiting design universities and colleges all over China and the U.S. since I arrived in September, looking for designers who will fit into our organization.  I’ve been to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Detroit and Los Angeles so far.

Q: What influence will the new design center in China bring to GM’s future products for both China and other parts of the world?

Wulin GaowaThe China market is playing a dominant role both in Asia and globally. As demand in China accounts for a bigger portion of GM’s global sales, our success in China is critical.

We need to closely monitor and predict Chinese customers’ mobility behaviors, needs and preferences to ensure we are bringing the right products to the market.

China’s vast geography means that many different mobility solutions are necessary, and it seems logical to think that inventions here could have appeal in other markets with similar customer needs and behaviors.

Q: Do you think cars designed in China will be accepted by overseas consumers?

Certainly, as long as the brand identity and brand promise is articulated correctly.  For instance, designers here in China were responsible for the award-winning Buick LaCrosse interior design, which also retails in the U.S, as the same model.  The local designers can understand the brand and its “visual DNA”, and therefore can continue to offer solutions that meet the brand promise to compliment the international Buick showroom.

Q: How soon will the first car designed in the new studio in Shanghai come out?

While we can’t provide details on future products, I can say that this studio will be focused on advanced design development and helping forecast the mobile needs and solutions of the consumer.  General Motors is keen to make mature products to fulfill its long-term commitment to customers globally. The advanced design center in China is following the principle and seeking to create a value in bringing to market promising vehicles. We need the right product, not any product.

About Wulin Gaowa

Wulin GaowaWulin Gaowa has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the Central Academy of Arts and Design in Beijing and a master’s degree in transportation design from Pforzheim University in Germany.

She began her automotive design career with DaimlerChrysler in 2000, holding design positions at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen, Germany, and then moved to Italdesign Giugiaro in Moncarieri, Italy.

In addition, Gaowa worked at BenQ-Siemens Mobile’s Mobile Phone Technical Development Center in Beijing and was a lecturer in transportation design at the Design College of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China’s capital.

From January 2010 she served as advanced design director, Team Exterior Design and Interior, at the Beijing Automotive Technology Center.

She was appointed the first design director of the GM China Advanced Studio, effective September 5, 2011

About GM China Advanced Studio

The GM China Advanced Studio will support GM’s global design organization, with a focus on meeting domestic needs. Its world-class facilities will include a digital visualization center and secure indoor viewing/exhibition areas.

It will gather and analyze information on automotive and other design and behavior trends in China to support GM’s vehicle development.

(Source: GM)

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