On May 31st, some 500 people were lined up outside of Daewoo Hall at 3:30pm. After having checked their names on the pre-registered list, they are waiting with a K5 mini-car souvenir in one hand and a Starbucks ice coffee in the other.
Peter Schreyer (59), Chief Design Officer at Kia Motors, gave a special lecture at Yonsei University School of Business. He is recognized as one of the world’s top 3 car designers along with Chris Bangle, former Chief of Design at BMW, and Audi’s Walter Maria de'Silva. Born in Germany, he studied industrial design at the Munich University of Applied Sciences and transportation design at the Royal College of Art. In 1980, Schreyer began working with Audi in exterior, interior and conceptual design, moving to Volkswagen's exterior design department in 1993. He has received numerous international awards, including the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum.
Before the start of the lecture, Park Sang-yong, Dean of Yonsei University School of Business, introduced Kia’s CDO saying, “Peter Schreyer is a well-known figure. Instead of giving a detailed profile, let me introduce him in a single line: He is Automobile’s 2012 Man of the Year.”
Shreyer stepped onto the podium greeted by an enthusiastic applause from the audience to talk about “Product Design and Branding.” He showed videos of cars from the late 1800s to more recent years to explain the process of how the concept of cars has changed. The early transportation types employed animals, but cars have since then evolved to become a part of our lives, providing freedom, creating a lifestyle and becoming a living space.
He showed his affection for Kia saying that, “Kia Motors has grown considerably compared to 7 years ago. In 2011, it ranked 5th in the list of world motor companies. What I liked most about joining Kia was the “freedom” to be able to try something new. There were so many possibilities and potential in Kia – like a blank sheet of paper. This freedom was the greatest contributing factor in the success of ‘Design Kia’.” He also said that he respects Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group Chairman Chung Mong-gu.
Schreyer’s designs for the K-series and other models boasting a new family-look caused a stir both in and out of Korea. He won the 3 major international awards: Red Dot Design Award, iF Design Award and IDEA (International Design Excellence Awards). He upgraded Korea’s formerly less developed car designs to an international level. The designs were decisive in boosting Kia Motors’ performance in both the local and overseas markets.
He touched on topics, such as car culture, attractions of speed, car collections, and differences in US and European cars. He concluded the presentation on the topic of the power of design and brand. He emphasized the importance of design in relation to emotional interaction, and branding.
Showing a picture of SOUL covered with snow, Schreyer said, “Anyone who sees this knows that that car is Kia’s SOUL.” Design is branding. After he was hired as CDO, he applied his design philosophy of ‘simplicity of straight lines’ and the radiator grill shaped like a ‘Tiger’s Nose’ to creating an identifiable Kia family-look (a common design trait). He explained the need for a family-look saying, “Kia needed to have a ‘face’ so that even from afar, people could to tell that it is a Kia. BMW and Audi also have their own unique face.”
In regard to the most important feature of a car, he chose emotional interaction. “I worked on the design for Volkswagen’s Golf 4. One day, a woman drove up in the new Golf, parked, and opening the door, said to her friend, “This is my new car. The design of a car should express the driver’s emotions as this does. A good design is not decorative, but is capable of moving the customer based on an understanding of the customer, society, technology and the market.”
Accordingly, he said, “The car owner should feel a sense of pride.”
Towards the end of the lecture, Schreyer shared Kia’s design philosophy sketching on a large canvas the designs he had worked on for SOUL and K5. He advised the students to “See many places around the world, see how they are different, and understand how people in those places live.” He travels the world with Kia Motors design centers in Los Angeles, Frankfurt and Seoul as footholds. He is still seeing the world.