Car design awards 2016
Seeking the world's best young designers

Reading like a Who’s Who of car design, our Judges are experienced, creative, and actively looking for new talent to strengthen their studios. They will be judging your work, and sifting through the entries looking for talent. If you are successful, you may end up working for them, so here’s a short biography of their life and careers to date.


Ralph V. Gilles
Head of Design
FCA Global

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Ralph V. Gilles was appointed head of design, FCA Global in April 2015. Since joining the company, as a designer, Gilles has put his extensive academic background in industrial design and business administration to use and has held various positions within the company. Gilles holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design degree from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He is an avid car enthusiast and enjoys spending time at the track, go-karting and watching Formula One.  Gilles has participated in the Mille Miglia, Targa Newfoundland Rally, the Car and Driver One Lap of America and the SRT Viper Cup Series.


Wolfgang Müller-Pietralla
Head of Future Affairs
Volkswagen Group Research

Wolfgang Müller-Pietralla studied biology at the University of Hanover, focusing on models and simulations of ecologic systems. In 1992 he joined Volkswagen, where he introduced a sustainable environmental management system. During the EXPO 2000, Mr. Müller-Pietralla was Volkswagen’s project manager and stage-managed both the Autostadt and the rain-forest house. In 2003 he was appointed head of Volkswagen’s future affairs department within the Volkswagen Group Research, tasked with analysing future developments and directing future mobility and vehicle concepts. Since 2010, Mr Mueller-Pietralla has also lectured at the Free University of Berlin.


Chen Zheng
Design Director
Changan Automobile


Chen Zheng is design director of Changan Automobile Co. Ltd and CEO of Changan Automobile European Designing Center. He has the overall responsibility for the design of the Changan car brand globally. In 2006, he lead the establishment of Changan European Designing Center in Turin, Italy. Two years later, he oversaw the opening of Changan’s Japan Designing Center in Yokohama. The creation of studios around the world has given Changan a global base for its design and R&D activities, making the brand one of the strongest in China, and helping to facilitate a new era of Chinese car design.


Thomas Ingenlath
Vice President of Design


Thomas Ingenlath assumed the position as Vice President of Design, Volvo Car Corporation, on July 1, 2012, succeeding Peter Horbury, who is now Senior Vice President of Design, Geely Group. Thomas Ingenlath has 20 years experience from the automotive industry, after completion of design studies at the Fachhochschule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim and the Royal College of Art in London. He has since worked in top design positions at Audi (1991-1994), Volkswagen (1995-2000) and Skoda (2000-2006). From 2006-2012 he was the Director for Design at the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam, designing for all brands of the Volkswagen Group.


Qunyi Chen
Vice President and Design Director


Qunyi Chen is vice president & design director of IAT. Having worked on hundreds of projects for more than 30 manufacturers, he has an extremely broad and detailed knowledge of the Chinese market and the particular demands of its customers. Chen was the lead designer of the Crosswind II concept car that debuted at the 2010 Beijing motor show, and the Karlmann King premium customised vehicle shown at the same show in 2016. He is also deputy team leader for the Styling Group at the Society of Automotive Engineers of China. Before joining IAT, Chen was design director at TJ Innova Engineering &Technology in China, and a visiting professor for the transport design course at Tsinghua University. He has also worked at Chrysler in the US, where he was responsible for the design of the “Challenger” project.


Daeshik Kim
Founder and Executive Design Director
Kinetic Will Associates


Daeshik Kim is the founder & executive design director of Kinetic Will Associates Inc. KWA is a global transportation design company that has been performing various projects in the car industry with many companies, in both development & design. Kim’s academic background is in mechanical engineering, which he studied at the University of Toledo, Ohio. He went on to study transportation design in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland, at Art Center Europe, and received a degree in transportation design from Art Center in Pasadena, USA. Following this, he worked as a designer at Pininfarina, before moving to the position of senior design manager of the premium brand line-up for Hyundai. He left Hyundai to form KWA in 2008. In addition to his responsibilities at KWA, Kim lectures at Hongik University in South Korea.


Amko Leenarts
Global Interior Design Director
Ford Motor Company

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Amko Leenarts is director of Global Interior Design for Ford Motor Company, responsible for the interior design strategy and implementation for both the Ford and Lincoln brands worldwide. He  reports to Moray Callum, vice president of Design, Ford Motor Company. Leenarts graduated from the Academy of Arts in Groningen, Netherlands, with a degree in interior architecture. With a passion for car design, Leenarts went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating with a Master’s degree in Vehicle Design. After graduating in 2000, Leenarts worked at PSA Peugeot Citroën, where he held several interior design positions, leading the development of a number of production and concept cars, including the 508 and 208 production cars, as well as the SR-1, HR-1 and HX-1 concepts. Leenarts moved to Ford in June 2012 as Strategic Interior Design Director and oversaw the design of the all-new Ford GT interior, the first result of the new design language. He currently resides in Dearborn, where he is leading all global programs, developing versatile user-centric interior design concepts for the full line-up of current Ford and Lincoln vehicles and future models.


Crystal Windham
Director of Design
Cadillac Interiors

windham-crystal_150_whitespaceCrystal Windham’s passion for automotive interiors and breakthrough design are fueling award-winning global vehicles in General Motors’ portfolio. In April, she was named Director of Cadillac Interior Design to support the global brand’s return to the pinnacle of luxury. Since joining GM Design in 1994, Windham has held assignments supporting multiple brands in the Michigan headquarters and special project work abroad. Prior to the appointment at Cadillac, Windham served as Director of Chevrolet Passenger Car and Crossover Interiors, including the new Malibu and Impala.  She became the first African American female director in GM Design’s history in November 2008. In her spare time, Windham helps students pursue dream careers by developing their skills and connections to higher education as a university mentor at Detroit Mercy and as a member of the college’s Alumni Board and Board of Advisors. Windham’s work and community service have been widely recognized by the automotive industry.  Her awards include the 2013 Urban Wheel Designer of the Year, the Emerging Leader Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s Global Automotive Summit, and inclusion in Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women. Windham holds an Industrial Design degree from the College for Creative Studies (CCS) and an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy.


Sangyeon Cho
Design Director
GM Korea

sangy_150Sangyeon Cho is one of three design directors at GM Korea. She runs a team of exterior, interior and color & trim designers that are working on next generation global products. After earning her Master’s and Bachelor’s degree both in Industrial and Car Design at Hongik University , she joined Daewoo Motors in 1995, where she worked on interior and exterior programs for various production vehicles as well as advanced design. Working at ITAL DESIGN for several years helped to refine her global design skills. After the sale of Daewoo Motors to GM in 2001, she worked on global advanced and production programs for various brands including Chevrolet, Buick and Opel.  After she led the development of the Chevrolet Mini Triplet concepts for the 2007 New York Auto Show, she was promoted to design manager in 2008. She subsequently managed the 2009 Chevrolet Spark and the 2012 Trax production vehicles. She has most recently led the exterior design work of Chevrolet Bolt EV – a game-changing 200 mile EV which debuted at 2016 NAIAS. After being promoted to the position of Design Director of GM Korea in 2015, she is currently leading exterior and interior design work for significant global entries.


Friedhelm Engler
Director of Advanced Design
GM European Design Centre

fried150wsFriedhelm Engler, a German native, studied at the Pforzheim Institute of Design, where he received a master’s degree in transportation design. In his current position as the Director of Advanced Design at the General Motors European Design Centre in Rüsselsheim, he leads a cross functional, multi-disciplined team, which includes a broad scope of design responsibilities, including Brand, Strategy, Concept and Design Development. Prior to his current position in Europe, he directed the design development and coordination of products for GM in China from 2007 to 2010 as the Director of Design at the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center Co., Ltd. (PATAC) in Shanghai, GM’s automotive engineering and design joint venture with SAIC. During his long career at GME Design, Engler has worked on many successful vehicle designs, and was appointed to the position of Design Director in September 2005. He joined GM in 1992 as a transportation designer. Before joining General Motors, Engler worked from 1988 to 1991 as a product designer at Frogdesign, both in Germany and Japan.