What do you have to do to win, and is it worth it? The most recent winners tell all

Car Design Awards China 2018 has begun, registrations are flowing in, and students are poring over this year’s briefs. This unique competition is open to all design students studying at college or university in mainland China. 

Along with transportation and product design, entries from students studying fashion, textile and other design courses, as well as those studying design engineering and architecture, are encouraged.

Students work on real briefs set and judged by leading design directors. We spoke to the winners of this year’s competition to find out why time-pressed students invest the time and considerable effort in this competition.

Liu Xingru, joint winner of this year’s Student Design of the Year, immersed himself in American history and culture during his placement at CCS

Liu Xingru, joint winner of the overall Student Design of the Year prize with his Interior Design ‘How to remove the darkness inside’, told us that the CCS Cultural Immersion Summer course, exceeded his expectations: “In the first nine days, I travelled to several American cities including Detroit, Chicago, Plymouth, and Oshkosh. I got to know more about American culture. … and learnt about American history.”

The winning design for the Interiors award, and overall winning design of the 2017 CDA China

So would he recommend other students enter the competition? “After winning the award, I received a lot of job and internship offers,” he told CDN. “This is what I can’t get in university. The award gave me an opportunity to meet and communicate with many big names in the industry. This is a great start to my design career.”

Shi Qingyin, winner of the 2017 Most Innovative Use of Materials category

Shi Qingyin won an award in the Most Innovative Use of Materials category, and thinks that the competition is a learning opportunity – the briefs themselves for this competition give a great indicator of future trends. “CDA China is one of the most important design contests in China. The organiser and brief providers are all experts in the industry. What they would like to see is highly likely to be the future design trend, development possibilities or problems to be solved. The category of Innovative Use of Materials I won was new; this means it will be an important direction of development in the future. After I noticed the category, I also started to pay more attention to materials during the design process. The new materials helped me to build and develop my concept of Half Past Tomorrow.”

Half Past Tomorrow, 2017 winner, Innovative Use of Materials

Zhang Haoyu, creator of the Best Digital Design in 2017

Zhang Haoyu won the Best Digital Design award, and he offered some practical advice for students entering the next competition: “You have to express your work clearly. The judges need to review hundreds of projects within a limited timeframe, so they won’t give your work so much time. To let the judges understand the design from four pages, I explained the concept of my design first, and then showed them my ideas in chronological order. The judges need to understand your design first, then will be able to see if it is excellent.”  

Ma Xiaokai, joint winner of the best Exterior Design award, advises the 2018 competition students to be creative

Ma Xiaokai, joint winner of the best Exterior Design award, thinks the most important thing for students entering this competition is to be creative. “Never limit yourself at the beginning,” he advises. “For example, to design a fancy sporty car, if you keep looking at the existing styles, your work will never be creative enough. What you should do is prepare a back story for your design based on the brief you choose, think out of the box and get inspiration from all the channels. This will produce attractive and fresh ideas.”    

Ma’s Magnificent design for the Exteriors category, 2017

For Ma, entering the competition helped him realise what direction he wanted his career to take: “Winning the award is very important for me; it has changed my career. I was an industrial design student and there were no courses about car design in my university, so I needed to learn everything by myself. Meanwhile, with less than two years’ auto design study experience, my understanding of this area was very shallow. Before winning the award, I was confused about the future. The CDN award showed me the direction of my career, gave me opportunities to communicate with top designers and creative directors. I have learnt a lot from the experience and started my career from here. I received many job offers afterwards and it made me able to choose my own future.”

Ma’s story explains why we run Car Design Awards China, and why so many Design Directors and teachers give their time so generously to make it happen. Enter now, join the community and decide your design future.