My student days at UTS were the most formative years of my life. A lot of what I do now is influenced by what I experienced then - that’s why I want to give back.
Automotive designer Casey Hyun gained international recognition for helping transform Hyundai’s brand, placing design at the forefront of the Korean company’s range of cars.
Now he’s sharing his insights with anyone who’ll listen. He’s a consultant to Google and some of the world’s biggest companies, such as LG Group and Continental AG. His message is clear: companies seeking growth need to put design at the forefront of their business.
Casey’s story is compelling. Korean-born but raised in Australia, he graduated from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in 1996 with a degree in industrial and product design. He joined Panasonic and then gained automotive experience at Audi, GM and Ford. In 2005, Hyundai invited him to join its design team.
Over the next decade, and with billions of dollars in revenue at stake, Casey honed Hyundai’s design philosophy of “fluidic sculpture.” He designed several new cars – such as the Genesis G80, an award-winning luxury sedan – that enabled Hyundai to gain market share from the US to Brazil and India.
Designing a car isn't like designing a mobile phone,” he says “To develop a vehicle, it takes about three-and-a-half to four years. Most car designers, during their whole professional career, won’t be credited with one design. I was credited with eight. When I left, I was like, ‘that's it!’
Today, he’s something of a rock star in the design world with 11 awards to his name. As well as consulting, he speaks at events such as Vivid Ideas Sydney and also lectures at two leading Korean universities.
“I did everything that I wanted to do as an automotive designer,” says Casey. “Right now, I’m more interested in broadening my design work.”
He’s a big fan of Australia where his family came to live when he was a teenager. “It’s a fantastic place,” he says. “In Australia you can really learn, you can be expressive and creative and people will understand and accept it. They won’t say, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ They’ll be more accepting of your wildest dreams and ideas than anywhere else in the world.”
He’s also a strong supporter of UTS. Since 2006, he’s sponsored the Casey Hyun Industrial Design Graduate Award.
My student days at UTS were the formative years of my life. A lot of what I do now is influenced by what I experienced then - that’s why I want to give back.
He hints that one day he might follow in the footsteps of an influential professor at UTS, the pioneering Australian designer Carl Nielsen. “I haven’t really tried to emulate the person he was, but as a teacher and mentor, I’ve tried to become almost exactly the person he was. That’s how influential he was to me.”