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News . Press Releases

Press Releases

June 18, 2014

CIA names acclaimed designer to teach transportation design

Award-winning designer Haishan Deng brings strong track record of student success

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ann McGuire

Director of Communications

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Institute of Art has appointed internationally recognized designer Haishan Deng to lead its renowned transportation design program.

Deng comes to CIA from the School of Industrial Design at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) in China where he was hired to establish its transportation design program in 2007. By 2009, the program was the first in China to have student work featured on the website Car Design News and his students have been featured there four times since.

"We are delighted that Haishan will be joining the CIA faculty,” said Dan Cuffaro, chair of CIA’s Industrial Design Department. “His expertise in automotive design will enable us to grow our program and take it to a new level of excellence. Haishan is not only focused on the practical knowledge and skills related to the field, but he is very interested in effecting positive change in the industry."

Contacted in California, Deng said, “I’m really excited to join this team. Cleveland Institute of Art is a very good school in industrial design and the transportation design field.” Deng said CIA’s location was also a draw, with proximity to automotive and product manufacturers and with Cleveland’s “very active” arts and design community.

The recipient of 12 design awards – including one from the German Association of the Automotive Industry, and a Michelin Challenge Design Award – Deng is also the author of Drive to the Future, a book on transportation design education published in China. His work is featured in four other design books, one each published in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. He has published research papers at conferences and in professional journals and his work has been featured in 15 different periodicals and websites, including Business Week and Scientific American.

At GAFA, Deng was responsible for planning curriculum structure; building academic systems; developing resources for the program; and teaching vehicle architecture, passenger car design, automotive sketching, and clay modeling. He developed partnerships with international automotive companies including Honda and GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group). In 2012, he led a research and design project with Jaguar/Land Rover Design Centre in U.K. His former students have been hired by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Peugeot/Citroen, Roewe/MG and GAC.

"Haishan has already formed relationships with Asian development centers of CIA’s current industry partners. Additionally, he brings strong connections with Jaguar/Landrover and Honda/Acura, which will open new opportunities for our students," said Cuffaro. “With his background as the director of transportation design at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, we know he will bring a track record of success and new perspectives.”

Deng, who refers to himself as a “cross-boundary designer,” has designed more than 50 products – including electronics, household and leisure products, sporting goods, and toys – for worldwide clients including Honeywell, Philips, and DeLonghi. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties at GAFA, since 2002 he has served as chief industrial designer and creative director at Topwave Design Co., and industrial design consultant for Lasko Products, Inc. In 2007 he served as vehicle exterior designer for a German firm (F.X. Meiller Fahrzeug-und Maschinenfabrik-GmbH & Co. KG) where his responsibilities included superstructure design for Mercedes-Benz and Volvo dump trucks.

Deng earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1998. He spent one undergraduate year studying transportation design as an exchange student at University of Art and Design, Linz, Austria. He earned his master’s degree in design arts at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2007.

Deng said he was familiar with CIA and its prestige in transportation design even before he learned of the faculty opening. “I heard about the Institute a long time ago because I was teaching in the transportation design field and we had clients from the auto industry and some of them were graduates of this school.” In particular, Deng had met 1988 CIA graduate Phillip Zak, executive director of design for General Motors in Shanghai.

For decades, CIA's small but elite industrial design program has educated a disproportionate number of top automotive designers. The tradition dates back at least as far as the 1930s, when the late Joe Oros graduated. He went on to lead the design team for the iconic 1964 Ford Mustang. Today, the lead designers of GM’s newest Corvettes are CIA alumni Kirk Bennion and Jose Gonzalez; while the lead designers of Chrysler’s latest SRT Viper are CIA alumni Scott Kruger and Ryan Nagode; and the lead interior designer of Ford’s popular Lincoln MKZ is CIA alumna Soo Kang.

A search committee of five CIA faculty members and one automotive designer who graduated from CIA screened applications from candidates from the U.S., Italy, China and Israel. When he visited CIA as a candidate, Deng gave a lecture, critiqued student design work, and was interviewed by the search committee, the vice president of faculty affairs and chief academic officer, and the executive director of human resources and inclusion. Deng begins teaching duties as associate professor when the fall semester begins in late August.

About CIA

Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. CIA’s public programming is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. For more information visit


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