Interview with Kevin Chu

Winner of Futuristic, Furniture and Art Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Kevin Chu shares insights


Interview with Kevin Chu at Monday 24th of October 2016:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
KC : I studied in London and qualified as an Architect. My previous universities were Architectural Association and London University Bartlett School of Architecture where i graduated with distinction.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
KC : I always have this "unsatisfactory emotion" that things around us can be more creative, have better aesthetic or provides "functional surprises" to users and i always believe the greatest inspiration is mother nature. This is why i believe as a designer we can make these changes to all elements around us.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
KC : I have always wanted to be a designer/artist as far as i can remember.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
KC : I have tackled architecture, interior design, product design, custom artwork, installation art design and i actually just prefer to focus on more creative and art related contemporary projects, whichever field does not matter.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
KC : There is no specific rules to this but i think "free your mind" is the answer. In the real world there are many constraints be it financial, political etc etc but in order to truly be creative you have to fight or cleverly work around these issues and never betray your goal. Also inspiration is all around us so just observe and finally avoid looking at design magazine or books as this will just hamper your creativity. Get inspiration first hand on not on some preexisting design.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
KC : Good designer creates Harmonious Design, great designer creates Polarizing Design. Good designer's creations are Contemporary, great designer's creations are Visionary.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
KC : Again this is not an easy subject to analyze but the design, apart from serving the principle function of the brief, should also introduce elements of surprise . It should be functional and innovative at the same time.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
KC : If we live in a society where everything is just created for functionality then it will be very boring. Good design brings 'fun' to everyday objects and make people questions on what each object can be. This in turn will attracts consumer/company to invest on good design in order to bring a much higher value to everyday products.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
KC : I will always design for any client who is a visionary and who is willing to work 'with' a designer.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
KC : A building about advance ECO agricultural technology as well as workshop on all things environmental be it energy, furniture, lifestyle etc etc.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
KC : Be Yourself as much as you can. Stay true to your principle no matter how hard it is. I am not going to say 'work hard' as this is a silly advice as everyone works hard anyway!

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
KC : Mother nature, i do like many architects or designers but mother nature is my main muse.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
KC : I love the Magis Spun chair by Thomas Heatherwick as it is a furniture that is beyond functionality and so much fun. Latest architecture masterpiece i love is Stefano Boeri's Vertical Forest Building. Finally someone is able to introduce good elements of nature into the disgusting skyscraper that is always glass,concrete and steel, no matter how 'organic or parametric' they look. Designers who 'mimic' nature are always less successful then designers who work 'with' nature. I am sure a few parametric masters will hate me for this comment!

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
KC : I don't think my greatest design will ever come as each design is my greatest within the confines of that situation. Some of my design might be more receptive and praised upon by the public but i do not consider them my greatest creation based solely of awards or recognitions.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
KC : Thinking outside the box more and look around in the details of life for inspirations.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
KC : Probably a marine biologist

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
KC : Design is to provide innovations and aesthetic beauty to a everyday functionality.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
KC : My family especially my wife who has been through many difficult times with me. Also the rare opportunity of a few clients who are willing to share my vision and probably also my stubbornness!!

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
KC : By always being unsatisfied with myself and keeping looking around like a Obsessive Compulsive Idiot.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
KC : Our society are always limiting our creativity with rules such as sale figures, innovation rejection, timing, financial limitation etc etc and it has extremely hard to convince and work around these limitations.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
KC : Clear and focused on your brief and always know that your client is not you and does not understand your vision. Present your vision like you are to a 3 year old and keep your themes simple.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
KC : We are working on a new building that is exploring the next generation in ECO technology and agriculture. We are also working on a new concept related to Virtual Reality as we believe this will be the next revolution. We are also conceiving some 'fun' furniture piece that harks back to traditional Chinese culture but with a big modern twist.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
KC : Just to always be challenged with creativity and innovation while also bringing back traditional elements of my own culture and upbringing.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
KC : i hope you cannot expect anything repetitive from me. Then i have succeeded

DL: How does design help create a better society?
KC : Just like art it can bring many creative individuals' visions to the world thus making our world a much more fun and dynamic place to live in. Vibrancy in life is a key and any successful society in our history has always thrived in this.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
KC : All my current projects are exciting to me as otherwise i would not have taken them on. It is important as a design we also need to feel inspired be it large or small scale projects.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
KC : I think boundary pushing projects that work with nature as well as focusing on environmental concerns always strike a cord with my passion.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
KC : I think our industry needs to embrace more Upstart creativity and focus less on just a few superstar designers. We should also focus more on smaller projects rather then monumental urban planning. Clients should also embrace innovation more and embrace more risk. I also think crowdfunding will really help kick off some true innovation in design, and not just small products. Imaging crowd funding entire vertical farming hubs/eco energy in an entire city where buildings can benefit the society rather then just developers.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
KC : Environmental Innovation and Virtual Reality spaces. Also large scale architectural 3D printing will become the norm for buildlings. I also see more and more 'normal individuals' can become designers as there are so many APPS that can help.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
KC : It all depend on the scale and scope of the project, it could be a few days to a few years.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
KC : Go for a hike in the forest or go diving if i can. Need to copy some stuff from mother nature you know!

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
KC : Just be yourself and do that best you can

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
KC : It is really both and it can be mutually beneficial. Although it is also always good as a designer to avoid following or repeating the trend

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
KC : Highly important, working with inventors or scientist can really help implement great projects. As a designer we should always know what is the latest tech trend while also not forgetting some traditional elements.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
KC : 3D max, Autocad, Photoshop, Illustrator and always hand sketches and some 3D printed models.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
KC : Color is important as i don't agree with the White, Black and Grey is the only way to design. Material are practically the umbilical cord of a design but i think Restraint and simplicity is a key to great design.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
KC : As long people appreciate my design questions is entirely up to them. If they don't ask i wont feel offended.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
KC : Can i offer something different?

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
KC : Someone who has their own thinking but share my ideology of innovation. Someone who is always inspired and positive.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
KC : My Family, My wife, My Quirky friends

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
KC : Actually movies and documentary have more effect on my design. Of course as books, and a bit cliche, the fountainhead is a good motivation read for us designers but a film that really inspired me was 1988 Japanese Animation Akira!

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
KC : Just always questioning everything and coming up with silly ideas!

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
KC : I like to go to another planet and see what is on offer. If there are aliens it might blow my mind!!!

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
KC : Yes it is very hard. You have to be constantly in competition and hope to win in order to get the appropriate promotion in the industry.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
KC : Fav Color: Red, Fav Place:Too many, Fav Time: Summer, Fav Thing: Adventures in Nature, Fav Brand: Quite a few but i like lots of brands in Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
KC : While presenting a speech in Beijing with lots of camera crew my pants dropped accidentally!

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
KC : If i have a New Idea that someone can share with me, then it is a great day

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
KC : Pretty much so as i am always drawing and destroying things around me.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
KC : There wont be any designer left as everyone is a great designer with augmented reality and cybernetic implants. We will all be great multi-talented cyborgs!!

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
KC : If you want to know more about me, please drop me a line on kevinchu@coc.desgin