The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series on 7 December, featuring Mr Pinky Lai, Founder and Design Director of Brainchild Design Group and Brainchild Design Consultants, and former Chief Designer for exterior designs of various models of Porsche including 911, Cayman and Boxster. The event was well received by students, faculty members and guests from HKUST.
In his talk, titled “Journey and Destinations: Design and Beyond”, Mr Lai spoke on how he embarked his lifelong career as a car designer. “When I flew to Rome with a one-way ticket in 1972, I had little idea about what I was going after. To reach where I am today, I have had to unconditionally pursue my professional goals, always seeking the best way to achieve success without compromise,” he said.
Mr Lai, whose car designs had met with acclaim world-wide, emphasized on the importance of dreaming as his driving force. “I do not dream as often as I was young now, but I still dream a lot,” Mr Lai said. “Dreams can never be big enough. Fear not what lies ahead, for nothing is scarier than standing still. No sets of rules will stay unchallenged forever. You should always ask questions—why not?”
Mr Lai is one of the very few Chinese in the car design profession in Europe. He was born and raised in Hong Kong. In 1972, he left the city to Italy and entered the Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche (ISIA). He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Design in 1978, and then furthered his study to specialize in transportation design at the Royal College of Art (RCA) with a full scholarship offered by Ford Germany. He started his car design career with Ford Germany in 1980 and designed the model range of Fiesta, Escort, Seirra and Scorpio. He joined BMW AG in 1984 and was in charge of the BMW “3” series exterior program and also involved in the design development of the “1”, “7” and “8” series. In 1989, he began a long-term partnership with Porsche AG, first as Chief Designer for 911 (996 Complete model-line) and Porsche Cayman and Boxster exterior. In 2005, he was Porsche’s Chief Designer of Global Customer Projects and Special Car Projects.
In 2012, Mr Lai founded a design consultancy, Brainchild Design Group. His clients and projects include major Chinese car manufacturers on brand creation across the entire range of vehicles and a privately-owned battery manufacturer to design an LEV (Light Electric Vehicle). At the same time, he helped planning for the Venice Biennale 2015 with the Italian-based Zorzi Foundation for an art exhibit of all his car sketches from the past 40 years. In December 2015, he was awarded the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hong Kong Design Centre.
Distinguished speakers including Nobel Prize winners, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and key financial policy shapers were invited to speak at the HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series. Prof Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1997 and former US Secretary of Energy, was invited as the inaugural speaker of the series. Other speakers include Mr Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Electric; Mr Wang Shi, Founder and Chairman of China Vanke; Prof Dan Shechtman, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2011; Prof Zhong Lin Wang, Hightower Chair in Materials Science and Engineering and Regents’ Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Chief Scientist and Director at Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Dr Raghuram G Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. More talks are also being lined up.
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