China is looking for effective and powerful design innovation to help cope with the huge challenge of becoming the biggest vehicle maker in the world within the next few years.

The designs from both foreign and domestic OEMs alike must develop a more distinctive character suited to the market. On the one hand, domestic Chinese brands need distinct design identities in order to differentiate themselves from local and global rivals. And on the other, they should reflect the elusive ‘C Factor’, harnessing elements of Chinese culture to create a distinctive Chinese design philosophy and aesthetic

Developing these themes is one of the purposes of this year’s major automotive design conference in China, to be held during the Auto Shanghai motor show in April.

The Interior Motives China conference, hosted by Interior Motives magazine and its parent Car Design News, has speakers including design chiefs from OEMs such as Harmut Sinkwitz, head of interior design at Mercedes-Benz, Chery design director Li Chuan Qun, and VW China design boss Simon Loasby, together with leading influencers like former head of global design for Toyota Hideichi Misono, and Li-Chih Fu, former design director of Nanjing Auto.

Conference Director Abel Sampson commented: “The explosion in contemporary architecture, fashion and product design in cities like Shanghai has made Chinese consumers much more design literate. The challenge for carmakers is catering for this awareness by creating more contemporary and harmonious designs for the Chinese market.

‘Our conference in Shanghai in 2007 identified some of these issues, and by bringing together domestic design talent and decision-makers from China with expertise from countries with more developed design capabilities, we expect to generate real solutions in 2009.”

Also working on these solutions will be speakers like Ed Wong, director of transportation design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and Lowie Vermeersch and Jason Castriota, respectively design directors of major independent studios Pininfarina and Stile Bertone.

The Interior Motives China Conference will be held from 21-22 April 2009 at the Intercontinental Pudong Hotel, Shanghai. Delegates will also be invited to attend the Designers Night on the evening of 20th April.