Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer ALICE XI ZONG ("AXZ") 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?

AXZ : Master degree of Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester upstate New York. BFA degree and majored in graphic design at Nanjing Arts Institute, China. I have worked in some great companies such as Tom Ford International, Ann Inc, Loreal Group, Ralph Lauren. I am working as a graphic designer at Apple Inc.

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

AXZ : I love to do illustrations since I was little and my parents took me to the illustration class. Ever since then I always have crazy ideas and inspirations of “creating arts”.

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

AXZ : Growing up I always wanted to be a designer. My parents are both artists and they gave me the great influence of the arts. I was very lucky to have their support learning design.

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

AXZ : I mainly do digital design such as branding design, website design, UI/UX. I also do print design projects and social media design. I also do video design.

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

AXZ : Always be passionate about design and be inspired.

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

AXZ : A great designer thinks about the future of design projects.

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

AXZ : A really good design is both aesthetic great and well functional.

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

AXZ : The value of good design is timeless and can last forever.

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

AXZ : I would love to design a book for my favorite Italian designer Massimo Vignelli.

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

AXZ : I would love to create a branding design for my future design studio.

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

AXZ : My passion for design.

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

AXZ : My favorite designer is the Italian designer Massimo Vignelli. I got my MFA degree at Rochester Institute of Technology and that is where Massimo Vignelli used to work. I attended the design class that he had and got really inspired by his work.

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

AXZ : My favorite design is the New York wayfinding system designed by the Italian designer Massimo Vignelli. I lived in New York for 4 years, walking by and seeing the wayfinding design on the street every day in NYC, the incredible design makes me realize how illustrations illustration would approve people’s lives.

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

AXZ : I would say my greatest design is the Chinese-papercutting Typeface design. The most unique aspect of this Chinese paper-cutting Typeface design is the idea to mix the very traditional Chinese patterns and elements into the 26 letters. It’s a fusion of my culture and root with my experience. As a Chinese designer, I am always thinking about my culture, I also love my experience to work and study here in the U.S.

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

AXZ : There's always room for improvement in design.

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

AXZ : An illustrator.

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

AXZ : Design is thinking about making a better future.

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

AXZ : My parents are the first two-person that support me on designing. My mentors and all my mistakes are on the top of my head.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

AXZ : My passion, and all the time and effort in designing.

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

AXZ : "How can this design be even better?"

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

AXZ : In a systematic and diligent manner.

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

AXZ : My next design project is a branding project extension of my Chinese Paper-cutting typeface. The Chinese paper-cutting Typeface design is a start point and there will be lots of potential for more illustrations visual design such as branding design, advertising design, and poster, etc.

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

AXZ : To be able to see the future of design.

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

AXZ : A great idea.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

AXZ : Good design makes a better life for people, therefore, it makes a better society.

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

AXZ : My next project - the branding system of the Chinese paper-cutting Typeface.

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

AXZ : The poster design for the non-profit organization Scottsville Veterinary Adoptions. Working with all the cute dogs and cats are the most satisfaction to me.

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

AXZ : More and more eco-friendly designs.

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

AXZ : VR and AR design.

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

AXZ : 1 month for average. It varies to different projects.

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

AXZ : I always start with the design inspiration and brainstorm.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

AXZ : Thinking about the future.

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

AXZ : Design sets the trends.

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

AXZ : Technology is the way to go, it is extremely important in my design.

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

AXZ : Adobe Creative Suite is my favorite tool, especially Adobe InDesign and Illustrator. I also use Sketch and Corel Painter. When I am working on videos I use After Effect and Photoshop, LightRoom, etc.

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

AXZ : Graphic design is all about color, materials and ambient.

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

AXZ : What is your inspiration?

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

AXZ : It is very inspiring.

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

AXZ : A designer who is passionate and innovate. I love the challenge and I think there's always something new with co-design.

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

AXZ : My mentor and professor at RIT, Bruce Ian Meader. He is the only professor who stayed up till 3am helping and correcting our design projects. Together we designed and published a book. Professor Meader is a huge influence on my design.

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

AXZ : "Design is One" by Massimo Vignelli; “Designing Japan" and "Weiss" by Kenya Hara 原研哉; "Things I have learned in my life" by Stefan Sagmeister.

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

AXZ : Always passionate about design and keep practicing.

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

AXZ : I would love to have a discussion about design with my favorite 3 graphic designers: Massimo Vignelli, Kenya Hara 原研哉 and Stefan Sagmeister.

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

AXZ : I feel very proud when my design works are realized. The awards and recognition are the encourage for me to create more great designs.

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

AXZ : Black, my home, miso black cod, spring, cups, MUJI.

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

AXZ : I once draw a "black hole" in the design brainstorm class and my teacher was super impressed.

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

AXZ : When a nice idea comes up, that's the golden moment of a day and which motivates me a lot.

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

AXZ : Since I was little, I love to do illustrations and express my ideas. It wasn't so obvious until I start to realize that I could make designs that really change people's life.

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

AXZ : I think our future is very bright as the techniques are growing up so fast. People in thousand years from now will be able to travel in space and the design process will be even more smooth since people will be thinking so much faster and there will be many more resources not only globally but in space.

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

AXZ : Please be always passionate about design and looking forward to my new work.



Big Dream Visual Design

Big Dream Visual Design by ALICE XI ZONG

Kanji Posters

Kanji Posters by ALICE XI ZONG

ZhuZi Art Book

ZhuZi Art Book by ALICE XI ZONG

Chinese Paper Cutting Typeface

Chinese Paper Cutting Typeface by ALICE XI ZONG

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