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SAIC opens new Advanced Design studio in London

19 September 2018 | by Maxine Morland

(L to R) Robert Lemmens, Carl Gotham and Shao Jingfeng open a new studio in the heart of London

SAIC has opened an advanced design studio in London, to support the global MG and Roewe brands. It will work collaboratively with the existing Advanced Design studios in Birmingham and Shanghai to develop future mobility solutions and “rekindle a glorious brand,” according to Shao Jingfeng, SAIC Design Director and Global VP Design.

Alongside the Design Director of the London studio, Robert Lemmens, Shao and  Carl Gotham, Group Advanced Design Director, welcomed journalists and the students and taking part in the annual SAIC Design Challenge, to Westar House in Marylebone, the location of the new studio for SAIC.

“London is the world centre of art and culture, and the home of world-class design and world class design education,” said Shao. “Our global vision is to have original design and attract the best talent – this is why we came to London.”

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Advanced Design London artwork

The new London studio will join the other studios in concept building and early concept development. Shao told the assembled visitors that London will not only focus on the MG brand, but that he wants a “European feeling” for Roewe too, highlighting the drive and ambition of Chinese brands on the world stage.

SAIC sees London as not only the spiritual heartland of the MG brand, but also the home of innovative future transportation solutions, and it offers proximity to cooperate with design schools, both in London (RCA) and Coventry nearby.

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Carl Gotham and Shao Jingfeng unveil the official plaque

“This studio will focus on avant-garde design and aims to become one of the world’s best and most creative advanced design studios.” The Birmingham Advanced Design facility already has design expertise in exterior, interior, colour and trim finish, UI and HMI, CAS modelling, visualisation, VR capability and digital modelling. “London will focus on advanced mobility design, the key difference is that London won’t have [clay] modelling but will focus on digital design techniques,” said Carl Gotham.

A VR setup in the studio ably demonstrated the group’s ambition in the digital space. Visualisation designers Josh Lomas and Wenyue Yang guided Maorinews News around the interior and exterior model of a virtual MG ZS. and explaining that they already use this technology to conduct design reviews of the interiors in particular – possible between Shanghai, Birmingham and now, London.

The investment in the UK and London in particular hints that MG (and, by extension Roewe), has its eyes firmly focused on an electric mobility future. But it could also reflect the ‘war for talent’ happening in China at the moment. Attracting young designers in China is often influenced by the location of the international studios, and, in the same vein, building closer ties with the RCA puts SAIC more firmly in the spotlight for students at that prestigious school.