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.
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.
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.
PY : I chose to be a designer. A young boy was attracted by the colors. I believe designing can contribute to the future.
PY : I like to design anything that related to product design, e.g wearables, and mobile devices.
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.
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.
PY : When the user gets astonished. When the user feels like to come back and expects more from the designer.
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.
PY : Basically, anyone, as long as who doesn’t intend to get the work done for free. Nothing is free in design.
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.)
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.
PY : Jony Ive, Issey Miyake, Craig Mullins
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.
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.
PY : Explore the world. Stay with the latest design trend. Try to think about what people haven’t thought of.
PY : I might have become a programmer in the IT world, coding interface.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
PY : I will continue to design watch faces as watch face design is my current research area.
PY : My ultimate goal is to live well.
PY : I will continue to pursue better outcomes from my design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PY : I think the next design direction will be on the services for people to better interact with their mobile devices.
PY : I would say that a month or two could be the ideal time. Along the way, projects might keep changing and evolving.
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.
PY : Try not to explain art. Just feel it.
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.
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.
PY : iPad and Apple Pencil. iMac with Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator. Coding IDE such as webstorm, Android studio, etc.
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.
PY : I like it when people ask: “Where can I get/buy your design?”
PY : I will ask myself: “What can I learn from it? Why is it so attractive to me?”
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.
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!
PY : I read the magazine ImagineFX quite a lot.
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.
PY : Steve Jobs and Jony Ive.
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).
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.
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.
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.
PY : No, I like drawing when I was a little boy. I thought I will be an artist.
PY : In a thousand years, people perhaps do things on their skin, send emails from wearables like glasses.
PY : Ask me whether I open to a new job opportunity, or open to a new project to co-design, maybe?
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