Independent car designer in China

I spent an afternoon with Dong Ruifeng this past Sunday and it was awesome. Not only is he a car designer but also an expert in Chinese Calligraphy and portrait sketching.

Here is his web site

I am working on getting him some speaking gigs in the US.

I’d love to see this guy. He sure sounds interesting. It seems everything on his site is 15+ years old…I’m curious what he’s working on now.

Yeah, I know the web site is old, for intellectual property reasons.

Web site showing some newer photos of his cars:

Also, in a few days I can scan some of the photos of Dong Ruifeng’s cars from the brochures and book I picked up from him. Maybe I can include some of the portait work and calligraphy too.

Below are some examples from his brochures which were in the public areas of his building.

The designs are surprisingly contemporary. Every Chinese car I’ve seen looks very derivative of western cars (carbon copy). These are certainly inspired by western cars, I see an Audi TT in there and some Rolls-Royce in the big limo, but they have something else too. I’m curious to know if Dong Ruifeng is following China specific trends, or why/where these unique elements are coming from.

Funny you should mention that. He does drive an Audi TT and in China that is not an inexpensive proposition.

He’s a Chinese version of Yo! haha!

Some good looking stuff. Where is he going to be giving speeches at?

Not sure yet. His info has been sent to Art Center.

I just can’t avoid the overbearing inspirational elements of all of them. They just look like marginally altered drawings of existing designs. The drawings look pretty wonky too. How old are these?

his info has been sent to art center…to apply for entrance into the night school program maybe?? this work is visually pretty amateur, 18 year old entry level school application portfolio or struggling first year student at most major/respected trans programs. the 3d computer stuff always looks colorful and shiny and convincing to unsophisticated clients, but underneath it the sketching and proportion and refinement is grossly lacking.

maybe his calligraphy is nice, maybe he is knowledgeable and connected on business in china, maybe he has gained engineering/manufacturing skills, maybe he could do some 3d cad aftermarket wheels (of course it would help to understand how ellipse axes work in perspective first!)- but for visual automotive design, this work is borderline embarrassing and a school like art center would have a hard time taking him seriously. he will not get any respect on his “china manufacturing” speech or “history of local chinese automotive design from the 80s and 90s” speech once any student or faculty see his sketches.

not to hate on the guy - he has done very well for himself given his circumstances and his context (making money in a fast growing economy full of unsophisticated clients with a local education). but short of a major talent injection and pure reliance on old guanxi, his days as a car designer in a globally competitive economy and mobile/hungry talent pool are numbered.