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POWER STEERING

by Teresa Chow on Jan 12, 2015 in Products
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Pinky Lai, born and raised in Hong Kong, took the automotive industry by storm back two decades ago when he was appointed chief designer at Porsche. Having abandoned a hippy lifestyle in Hong Kong to buy a one-way ticket to Italy at the age of 21, he went on to become the world's first Chinese supercar designer. Perspective's VIP guest editor Mark Lui talks to Lai about how he transformed himself from an average teenager from Quarry Bay to an award-winning industrial designer, and more

Mark Lui (ML), VIP guest editor
: I think the story of you leaving Hong Kong and pursuing your dream is totally legendary.

Pinky Lai (PL), Perspective's VIP guest
: I don't think I started to think about my own future until the late 1960s — almost half way through my hippy period. I felt like I had made too much of a mess of my life, that I hadn't been strong enough at school, so I had a choice: I could either stay a hippy and probably die young, or pull myself together and create a goal. I decided to begin again from scratch.

ML: What prompted you to make such a decision at the time?
PL: I ran into a small group of young architectural graduate students from Hong Kong University. They looked exactly the opposite of me — I had long hair but they were clean cut and wore thick glasses. They seemed very impressive to me, especially the way they looked at their careers.
I wondered why they hadn't bothered to get jobs, but it turned out that it was because they didn't need to worry about it. Architecture was such a good profession, and they wanted to see the world after they graduated before picking a spot to settle down.
Towards the end of my years in Hong Kong, I worked as an intern at Jens Munk, the interior decorator, for a year and a half. This was when I first came across the word 'design'. It became part of my vocabulary: the company had different European furniture — some of them are in Museum of Modern Art, and each piece had its own 'birth certificate'.

This is a preview of the "Power Steering” article from the combined January/February Design issue of Perspective magazine.

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