Oleg Son, executive design director, Kia Design China

Kia Names Oleg Son Executive Director and Head of Design China

Following hot on the heels of Kia’s seemingly impromptu hiring of Pierre Leclercq to head Kia Motors design activities in Korea, the automaker has now announced the appointment of Oleg Son as Executive Director and Head of Kia Design China. He starts his new role November 1.

Son, who will be based in Shanghai when he starts his new role, will be responsible for managing the Kia design team located in Yantai, China, and will work closely with chief designer Gregory Guillaume in Europe, Tom Kearns in the US, and the Hyundai-Kia R&D center in China, alongside recent hire Simon Loasby.

Reporting to President and Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer, and Head of Kia Design Center, Seon Ho Youn, Son will effectively mirror Leclercq’s strategic efforts in Korea, but align the company’s goals towards creating a long-term design strategy in China. As a whole, the Hyundai Motor Group is heavily focused on the development of new models specifically created for the Chinese market.

A designer with almost three decades worth of experience at PSA Group in France, Son was also responsible for launching PSA’s first satellite design studio, in Shanghai, in 2008. He spent three years channeling market research towards building a cohesive model lineup for the DS brand. He will now be charged with leading Kia’s design activities in China and strengthening the brand’s design capability in the market.

Oleg Son, executive design director, Kia Design China

“Oleg Son brings extensive experience in China and unparalleled market insight,” says Schreyer. “His experience and expertise will play a vital role in opening new opportunities for the Kia brand in the Chinese market.”

Son has lived and worked in Asia, North Africa and the United Kingdom at various points in his life, and is fluent in both English and French. He describes himself as being attracted to cultural diversity and looks back at his time spent working in China as a precious, inspiring, and enriching human and cultural experience. He also cites it as his main source of inspiration.

Prior to earning an MA in Vehicle Design from the Royal College of Art in London, Son studied Industrial and Transportation Design at the École Nationale des Arts Appliqués et Métiers d’Art in Paris. He joined Citroen in 1998 as an interior designer before moving on to design exteriors, where he gained recognition for the Citroen C2, C3 Picasso and C4 designs. He served as Citroen’s chief designer 2003 to 2008.

Over the latter part of his career — first as Executive Design Director of PSA in China (2008-2011) and most recently as Executive Design Director for DS (2011-2017) — Son was also involved in the Citroen Gran Turismo and Metropolis concept cars. His most recent projects have been the DS3 and the DS5.


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