Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Pan Yong ("PY") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

PY : I have a degree (2007) and a diploma (2006) in Interactive Art of Media Arts, both are from Lasalle Colledge of the Arts, in Singapore.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

PY : I started learning drawing at 16 years old. At a very young age, I was always curious about colors. I still remember how I felt when I saw those color pencils laid down on the shelf. Those color pencils sold in the art store somehow calmed me down. Sometimes I even wonder why everything has “bright” and “dark”. Yeah, a young boy was attracted by the “light” and “shadow” in the world. I guess that is why I still keep the passion for “art” when others dropped it. “Design” to me is a driving force, a leading force. When others do not have a clue, I already had. That is “design” to me. It makes me proud.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

PY : I chose to be a designer. A young boy was attracted by the colors. I believe designing can contribute to the future.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

PY : I like to design anything that related to product design, e.g wearables, and mobile devices.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

PY : I’m not a legend. What should young designers do? I would say, spend more time to explore the world, feel the world, read the world. Use your eyes and heart more rather than hands. Live your life. You don’t need to learn to be a designer first and then to live your life. Learn to live your life first.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

PY : I think a good designer focuses on current happenings in the world, while a great designer more tends to think about the future. The great designer thinks more about something that hasn’t happened.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

PY : When the user gets astonished. When the user feels like to come back and expects more from the designer.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

PY : I believe a good design not only can add value to the design itself and its customers but add more value to the future society and make our environment a better place as well. A good design improves humanity.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

PY : Basically, anyone, as long as who doesn’t intend to get the work done for free. Nothing is free in design.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

PY : I wish I could design watch faces for those big brands and potential watchmakers in the watch industry (if they have made a smartwatch, or plan to.)

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

PY : Try not to start designing for the sake of design. Try not to look for inspiration. Sometimes it comes by chance. Try not to explain art, just feel it.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

PY : Jony Ive, Issey Miyake, Craig Mullins

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

PY : I like iPhone4 from Jony Ive. Yes, iPhone4. I’m not talking about the whole iPhone series. I’m not talking about the iPhone 2G (1st generation), although it re-defined the phone. The iPhone4 moved the antenna from inside to outside, which nobody dares to try. Apple made a breakthrough. Even iPhone4 did have the antenna problem in the end, but it paved the way for iPhone4s (and future models) to refine it. Eventually, the outside antenna becomes a success.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

PY : It’s hard to decide which one is the greatest. A different design has a different aspect of a strong point. For me, I think there is one design worth mentioning. That was a logo I designed in 2000 when I was in Hua Shan Art school in Shanghai. My design won the school sports games logo design competition. The school sports games used my logo. It made me proud and a little bit famous.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

PY : Explore the world. Stay with the latest design trend. Try to think about what people haven’t thought of.

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

PY : I might have become a programmer in the IT world, coding interface.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

PY : “Design” comes into the picture at the moment when others do not have an idea “what to do” but I know “what to do”. “Design” is an accomplishment that makes others think “Wow, I’ve never seen this before. How could it be like that! Why couldn’t I think of that?”

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

PY : When I had my second job, after I lost the first one, I met my department manager. He taught me how to live when I was kind of lost myself. I learned something from him. I learned how to see things around me.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

PY : I was born in Shanghai, China, and lived there for 24 years. Now I live in Singapore. The living experience in both two countries actually helps me a lot in my design. Shanghai has its own particular culture called “海派文化(an exotic boutique and Shanghai-only type)”. Singapore is a multi-cultural nation and has its unique culture called “Nonya”. When both two cultures combine, it gives me a wide range of inspirations. Besides, of course, those works from famous design masters like Jony Ive, Issey Miyake, etc. Their works taught me a way of seeing and thinking.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

PY : I think the obstacle will be learning to convince myself. As a designer, sometimes I need to convince myself to make tough decisions. Be creative and, at the same time, be flexible.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

PY : I prefer designers to present their works as close to the end product as possible. Not only is it easier to convince, but frustrations are avoided in the end.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

PY : I will continue to design watch faces as watch face design is my current research area.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

PY : My ultimate goal is to live well.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

PY : I will continue to pursue better outcomes from my design.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

PY : A designer should be responsible for pushing the society forward and for making a refined environment. Not only think about how to satisfy customers, but also should consider whether the design can take our society to the next level. We design for the future.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

PY : At the current moment, I start thinking of refining the first prototype of my other watch face. This watch face has become version 2 and version 3. But people keep asking for the first version which actually is just a prototype. I guess it’s time to make it version 1.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

PY : As I said before, that was a logo I designed in 2000 when I was in Hua Shan Art school in Shanghai. My logo participated in the school sports games logo design competition. The school sports games used my logo. It made me proud and a little bit famous. This is the first time I won a design competition.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

PY : I would like to see some products or services, those innovations that could re-define the way people live again. We saw how iPhone re-defined the phone. We saw how Apple Music and Spotify changed the way people listen to music. I would like to see such innovations coming.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

PY : I think the next design direction will be on the services for people to better interact with their mobile devices.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

PY : I would say that a month or two could be the ideal time. Along the way, projects might keep changing and evolving.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

PY : I think I will start putting myself into the user’s shoes. This is a good way to understand the end user’s needs and produce great user experience.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

PY : Try not to explain art. Just feel it.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

PY : It depends on how designers play the role in “design”. If designers play a “leading” role, like Jony Ive, they make the design set the trends. But if designers just want to satisfy their clients and get the project done, they are playing the “follower” role, they make the trends set the design.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

PY : When I design, I put the technology in a quite important position. Because it somehow limits the range of imagination. Besides, it also determines whether the project could be extendable in the future.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

PY : iPad and Apple Pencil. iMac with Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator. Coding IDE such as webstorm, Android studio, etc.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

PY : They are very important. The combination of colors and materials defines the user’s mood and experience. The ambient (environment) also plays a critical role. The ambient and the colors or materials relate to each other. Different relationship produces a different mood and experience.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

PY : I like it when people ask: “Where can I get/buy your design?”

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

PY : I will ask myself: “What can I learn from it? Why is it so attractive to me?”

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

PY : Ideal design partner? Maybe someone who has the characteristic of “willing to listen and accept”. Like I said before, the obstacle of being a great designer is whether you can convince yourself to accept. Everyone has an ego. It’s how much willing to listen and accept that make you great designer and ideal design partner.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

PY : I guess some strangers on the internet who interacted with my social media posts have an influence on my design. For example, my two award-winning watch face designs, quite a large amount of people tried those watch face prototype and gave me a lot of wonderful feedback. They helped a lot. Thank them!

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

PY : I read the magazine ImagineFX quite a lot.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

PY : For technical skill, as I make more and more projects, my skills get improved. For my innovative skill, see the world with a heart. Feel it, watch it, explore it.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

PY : Steve Jobs and Jony Ive.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

PY : The award and recognition do helped expose my work to the world. But I’m not doing my designs for the sake of being famous. I focus on producing better artwork. People become famous because of their works, not awards (although awards do help).

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

PY : Favorite brand: Apple. Favorite place: anywhere I can merge myself into the crowd. But I prefer quiet places by the way. Color, food, season? I’m not sure. I eat a lot.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

PY : I joined my previous company as front end developer, yes, I know how to code, and I joined as a coder. After just a few days, our team manager saw my design works, he immediately decided to let me do the design job. The funny thing was after other team managers saw my design, they all came to my team manager asking whether can borrow me to help them or not.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

PY : It makes my day great when people see my work and yell out: “Wow, you really did that? Oh my……….”. It really motivates me.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

PY : No, I like drawing when I was a little boy. I thought I will be an artist.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

PY : In a thousand years, people perhaps do things on their skin, send emails from wearables like glasses.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

PY : Ask me whether I open to a new job opportunity, or open to a new project to co-design, maybe?



The English Numbers Smartwatch Watch Face

The English Numbers Smartwatch Watch Face by Pan Yong

The Plant Smartwatch Watch Face

The Plant Smartwatch Watch Face by Pan Yong

Simple Code II Smartwatch Face

Simple Code II Smartwatch Face by Pan Yong

Muse Smartwatch Face

Muse Smartwatch Face by Pan Yong

Code Titanium Alloy Smartwatch Face

Code Titanium Alloy Smartwatch Face by Pan Yong

The English Numbers Smartwatch Watch Face

The English Numbers Smartwatch Watch Face by Pan Yong

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