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How do designers and creative companies understand 'design' as market demands and design trends change over time?

Interview China Furniture Association

What kind of designer do you think you are? How have you changed over the years?

I am a pragmatist. When I heard the idea of "form follows function" when I was in school, I didn't agree with it at first, but now I worship it. I think I understand more and more what design is. I firmly believe that the combination of functionalism and minimalism is a better solution. When faced with form, if you don’t stubbornly find an answer that fits the current problem itself, you will be able to solve the problem more reasonably.

The minimalist design concept greatly tests the designer's ability to control elements. How do you integrate the information that needs to be conveyed into concise design elements?

I think balancing the relationship between various elements is a very important thing in my daily work. Product design is the answer obtained by integrating a series of issues such as user, brand, manufacturing, and sales. A good product should reduce trouble for everyone as much as possible instead of creating trouble. This not only solves the trouble for consumers, but also includes trouble in the manufacturing process, trouble in the sales process, etc. Solving these troubles in a refined way is a very important job for designers. I think good design is like writing poetry, expressing rich connotations with a sentence that directly touches people's hearts, just like a physical formula, using a formula to express the logic of the operation of all things.

What is the current working pattern?

From being a designer in the past to now being responsible for brand building and R&D work, I think design has given me good thinking training. Just like the "design thinking" advocated by IDEO, design can not only revolve around a product, but also around a project. Question, design thinking can also be used to run a company and a brand. In the process of studying design in the past, I constantly learned new knowledge and practiced new skills, which helped me to accept the problems I faced when changing my role. This habit and state of continuous learning can also adapt well to the challenges I face. Right situation. This is what design work has taught me.

How do you usually inspire your own designs? Have you ever encountered a bottleneck? How did you overcome it later?

I believe that design is inspired, but I also prefer to believe that it is a kind of "practice makes perfect" generated under strict logical deduction. There will be reasonable solutions to a single problem, and in each solution you will have corresponding values ​​to generate corresponding solutions. When such a work is born, there will be vastly different possibilities, and it is impossible to overcome inspiration. The problem is difficult, I prefer to call it a good way to solve the problem.

Your designs have won many international design awards. Do awards have special meaning to you?

About 6 to 7 years ago, I thought that winning awards did not mean that we could make truly good designs, because the dimension of winning awards was not the best angle to solve the problem, and there was a lot of objectivity and political correctness. But later on, when facing the establishment of independent studios and companies, the award was not only a shortening of the process of building trust with clients. It also elevates the dimension of design to a global perspective to answer questions. The breadth of thinking of the winning designs goes far beyond the specificity of solving a single problem. When I answered a global proposition, this was an angle I had never considered before, and it also made me realize how I should shoulder the mission and responsibility of being a good designer. This is what I think the award has brought me the most.

What is good design to you?

I think a good design is a work that is easy to use and look good, can stand the test, has been verified by a wide range of users, exists beyond time and trends, has actually helped everyone improve their lives, and reduced a lot of burdens.

What do you think is the current development of the furniture design industry? Are there any new trends? What are the characteristics of the current market demand, and how to view and respond to these demands?

I don’t think there is such a thing as a new trend, especially after seeing the past actions of many brands with a long history. 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus. When the Milan Satellite Show put forward the big proposition "design for our future selves" in 2019, I think it represented a spiral. It's just that in different eras, people may face the same problem. There are some answers that seem relatively new. When I looked through the collection of "Domus" magazine from 1928 to 1936, what I saw was that people 100 years ago were answering some of the same questions we are answering today. It’s just that our country has experienced rapid development in just thirty or forty years. This speed of development has undergone many changes in one generation. Such changes have led to the continuous upgrading of the values ​​of the entire society and the continuous refreshing of cognition. After people get used to this rhythm, they may focus more on “newness” instead of what they actually need. So when we look back at ourselves and get to know ourselves, I believe that all our consumers, including myself, will think about what is really suitable for me and what is the product I really need. In this sense, the future is to eliminate the false and retain the true. It also leaves a lot of room for designers who really do good design.

​Yotrio Group Co - Outdoor Chair

Have you ever cooperated with outstanding designers and brands at home and abroad? What has been the biggest gain?

In my past experience, I have cooperated with brands such as Alibaba, Red Star Macalline, Huawei, and Gujia. Excellent brands are serious about their work and rarely pay attention to other content. What I gain more is how to communicate the same goal with different teams in the design service. With the business team, brand team, and production team, we must use language that everyone can understand to describe the common picture in everyone's mind. Of course, this itself is also an important task for designers to do.

The relationship between brands and designers is mutual selection. What standards do you have for accepting design commissions?

Our studio hopes to establish cooperation with mature commercial brands. On the one hand, using good design can better empower the brand, not only improving sales, but also bringing more unexpected added value to the brand. On the other hand, mature product organizations have more reasonable process systems that can help teams establish long-term and effective cooperation. Relying on the brand's mature and stable sales channels, we can better push products to consumers. In this way, it is easier to achieve win-win results and cooperation will be sustainable.

How do you differentiate the brand you serve from its competitors and make people prefer that brand?

I think it's easy to differentiate. The brands we serve are generally long-termists. Furniture is a durable consumer product that requires low frequency. Most people only buy furniture three times in their lives. When a well-educated consumer is faced with overwhelming choices, designers must well-intentionedly adhere to the seemingly old-fashioned values of durability. At the same time, it is necessary to make the product as perfect as possible and considerately considerate for consumers. Brands should try their best to keep their products in the consumer's field of vision. Only in this way can consumers choose our products and brands will not waste investment.

Qiu Chair

What do you think about the idea of sustainability and regeneration? Are these reflected in your designs? Can you give an example?

Sustainability is a concept that we have always adhered to in our designs, which is in line with the aspirations of everyone around the world. Our understanding of sustainability is not only the use of sustainable materials, but also the hope of making designs that transcend time and trends, and that are sustainable designs that are in line with our values.

The Qiu Chair is a reflection of our design answer to sustainability. This chair was also used to participate in the Milan Satellite Show this year to answer the theme of the Milan Show "DESIGNING FOR OUR FUTURE SELVES Sustainability". The design of the chair considers versatility in a variety of scenarios, hoping that this chair can adapt to any environment. Reduce the designer's choice cost in project matching, and use a universal design language to meet as many environments as possible. At the same time, the chair also retains the basic elements of the traditional Chinese armchair, paying tribute to tradition, without losing the national sense of being a Chinese designer on the international stage. And after processing with CNC machine tools, the circular backrest armrests can still be stacked. So sustainable design should be a design concept that does not cause waste.

"East" and "West" are the narrative ways we discuss furniture design and even cultural issues. Do you think the future Chinese furniture product market will be more inclined to "Eastern design" or "Western design"?

With the high-frequency interaction of global information, the new generation of young people has grown up in an era of information bombardment. Many of our current mentality have not fully kept up with the changes in the environment. Multiple values are constantly challenging the traditional single value. Eastern design and Western design are just superficial geographical judgments. I believe that by using the materials and resources around us and designing with a solution to the problems of people around us, we can solve big problems by starting from the small. This is a design that doesn't care about Eastern or Western design, a solution that everyone can understand, and a product that the market will tend to favor.

What are your expectations for yourself and Ruheng in the future?

Ruheng Design is a new original furniture brand we established at the end of 2021. We hope to unite many designer friends at home and abroad to help the growth of China's original furniture design.

When the brand was first established, it was because the cooperative factory saw the products we designed and liked them very much, so they jointly explored the cooperation model and reached a consensus. It is a set of business models that are completely derived from the market and manufacturing. We hope that through this set of methods that have been accumulated in the market for many years, we can solve the cooperation problems between original designers and manufacturers and brands, and combine our advantages. Solidify it into the brand and provide a different solution for consumers, designers and the industry.

M Chair
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