LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Tom Chan & Melanie Man ("TC&MM") 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?

TC&MM : I've been a self-taught graphics designer for 15 years now. I would like to say I've always loved creating eye-candy, and that's somehow true, but more specifically, teenager me used to browse razorart.com (now defunct) and drool over the works by the masters there. I was intimidated at first but their inspiration pushed me on. Formally, I studied Economics in London, and Business for my masters.

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

TC&MM : I'm inspired by some of the masters at work today, and simply I just like pretty things - I want to contribute and share more beautiful designs to like-minded people.

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

TC&MM : Half half. I've been a self-taught graphics designer for 15 years now. I would like to say I've always loved creating eye-candy, and that's somehow true, but more specifically, teenager me used to browse razorart.com (now defunct), then deviantart and drool over the works by the masters there. I thought if one day I can make something of those calibre I would be a very happy guy! There was also a need for product development work that nobody took up at our family business, so in a way I was put in charge to do design work without actively seeking for it.

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

TC&MM : I am most at home working on graphic design. I do a lot of logos, covers, catalogues, one-off graphics. However, in my day job and hazuto I work with some niche product and accessories, too.

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

TC&MM : I think it is important to have a mentor or at least a tenured professional to guide you. Progression will be much faster and less lonely.

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

TC&MM : A good designer ticks all the boxes of the client requirements. A great designer does that and ticks boxes that didn't even exist before.

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

TC&MM : Wow there are many answers for me. I agree with many that design is a solution to a problem. Something has to work well to be good design. In particular, the person using it should use it with ease and the product should make his life easier. A better design should provoke attractive emotions through visual appeal. Sometimes a design is good design because the user "just like it". A great design will continuously excite the user nearly every time he uses it, and make him look forward to using it, too. I think if a majority of people say something is a good design, it probably is. Ask me again in 10 years time and maybe my answers become completely different.

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

TC&MM : There is firstly the financial argument. Something well designed will last much longer and in the long run cost less. Secondly, good design should bring joy, ease, convenience, and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

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

TC&MM : I would design the dream office for our firm Hazuto Ltd once the time comes.

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

TC&MM : The dream project would be setting up a family.

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

TC&MM : I think empathy and observation. Design without empathy for the market and user will lack reception and appeal. You need to be observant to the various functions / needs, context the product is used for to have a successful piece.

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

TC&MM : There are works from some companies there are amazing but I don't know their designers, like Vola, Buster and Punch, The abyss Table.

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

TC&MM : I want to say something pretentious and obscure but for me it will be iPhone 4. The flush form factor, the groundbreaking glass sandwich profile, the metal rim, the cool tactile feel of it... for me iphone 4 is the perfect design. It's my favourite because I'll never forget the awe and desire I felt when I first saw it in a New York subway train.

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

TC&MM : I would say my design for a box lid hinge. The design is simple but clever (in my humble opinion). It was a half circle hinge locked into a dual-channel hole, that allowed the hinge to be slid out when needed. It just works, and allowed us to avoid so many other ugly "solutions".

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

TC&MM : I think it is important to have a mentor or at least a tenured professional to guide you. Progression will be much faster and less lonely.

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

TC&MM : I would probably have been an analyst at a data company. At the beginning of my career at data science firm dunnhumby London I was offered an analyst job, which I nearly took.

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

TC&MM : Wow there are many answers for me. I agree with many that design is a solution to a problem. Something has to work well to be good design. In particular, the person using it should use it with ease and the product should make his life easier. A better design should provoke attractive emotions through visual appeal. Sometimes a design is good design because the user "just like it". A great design will continuously excite the user nearly every time he uses it, and make him look forward to using it, too. I think if a majority of people say something is a good design, it probably is. Ask me again in 10 years time and maybe my answers become completely different.

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

TC&MM : Must be my partner-in-crime wife Mel.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

TC&MM : If I am a great designer then there are the better and best designers out there.

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

TC&MM : If you love doing something, you'd view each challenge as a development area and become keen to improve. You'd see it more as a natural progression and evolution.

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

TC&MM : I'm more of the opinion that we should let the work speak for itself, and avoid fancy marketing jargons. We must respect our audience and their intelligence.

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

TC&MM : We've got a few ideas up in the air, let's just say it maybe pet related/ or fashion...

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

TC&MM : If I can make something some of the people love very much, I'd be happy.

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

TC&MM : I think they expect first and foremost professionalism in my interactions and work, rightly so too.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

TC&MM : I think designers are empowered to do good for the society and environment. At the core they are solution providers. If the materials are harmful to our world, designers are one piece of the puzzle to give an alternative that nudges people to choose a better option. However, i think everyone is involved, from the consumers, policy-makers, regulators to academics, media and enterprise.

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

TC&MM : Of course, the launch of the Hazuto board***

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

TC&MM : Working on our company's flagship power socket box is important because its success was a milestone after 2 long years of design work and manufacturing sourcing.

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

TC&MM : I'd wish governments would make grants less bureaucratic to designers and inventors and artists. Of course, other measures must be used to avoid bogus claims, too.

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

TC&MM : I think more people are becoming refined, sophisticated and demanding in terms of their tastes and what they look for when they are using / buying something. Perhaps it is due to the free-flow of information at their fingertips allowing them to be better-informed.

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

TC&MM : I've done one in 2 months but also one using a year. It's hard to say.

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

TC&MM : I start with brainstorming and daydreaming. Lots of blue sky thinking. Just doodling shapes, forms, dimensions.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

TC&MM : It's not personal -

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

TC&MM : I tend to think Design sets the trends. I think trend is almost a derivative of what is designed. i think trend comes after design, because something needs to exist before it becomes a trend. And something doesn't exist if someone doesn't design it first right?

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

TC&MM : Hazuto board is a very simple product relatively speaking. But 3D modelling is helpful to mock up the aesthetics of the design, and to give consistent production instructions to different vendors.

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

TC&MM : Heavy user of Photoshop, Illustrator, inDesign. For 3D modelling work we partner with modellers.

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

TC&MM : My analogy would be like the icing, the sponge and the fruits of a cake. You can make a decent cake if you focused on 1 or 2 facets. But a great cake will have carefully considered icing, sponge and ingredients. You can make a decent table with bold colours if it looks nice but a lazy selection of material. Carefully co-ordinating colour, material and ambient will elevate your design to a higher level.

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

TC&MM : I'd be happy to share the gory details if they ask me What's the hardest part about making this design...

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

TC&MM : Curiousity in the design process, the inspiration for the product. Also a lot of respect and awe for the makers. A desire to "own" the product. It is a mixture of emotions~

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

TC&MM : I don't think I can develop all the designs myself - Feedback and collaboration is so very important. One man working alone could be very risky because I never believe that one person has all the answers. My ideal design partner would be someone who can compliment all the skillsets still missing in my toolbox, naturally.

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

TC&MM : Too many to list and remember :)

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

TC&MM : I would say "Information is beautiful" and "A new program for Graphic design". Also "Designed by Apple in California". " Nudge by Richard Thaler.

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

TC&MM : I'm self-taught and have been designing graphics for 15 years. Everyday I'm inspired by legends working in the field currently.

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

TC&MM : I love this question - so many but a big one would be Bryan Cranston. I'm a huge fan of Breaking Bad. In fact its inspired me to do so many things and changed my attitude to life. I just want to discuss more about his thinkings of Walter White. I would use the opportunity to also thank him for sharing such a great piece of work.

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

TC&MM : It's great - The more people know about our work, the easier it is to tell them about our newest designs. It's also easier to reach contractors, partners and more opportunities open up.

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

TC&MM : Color: it changes.. At the moment it is orange. Place: A small town in outer London called Ealing. Very ordinary, nondescript, but I've never been calmer and more at peace than at Ealing. Food: Pesto pasta (extra cheese) Season: Winter Thing: My cats Brand: Too many. AMD. Jaeger Le Coultre. Credor. Vola. Waitrose.

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

TC&MM : I remembered being stuck on a design problem for sometime. It was to invent a box hinge that allows the lid to be taken out when needed, easily. The solution came to me when I was getting my hair cut at the salon... It was the last place I'd expected. It ended up getting my first patent.

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

TC&MM : I think maintaining a standard of work that I am proud of is a main motivation driving my designs. Coming up with a solution in an eureka moment is a great moment in my day. Seldomly happens~

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

TC&MM : Not at all - I was a boffin pretty much, perhaps a little too focused on academics as is common in Asian culture.

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

TC&MM : I think a thousand years from now we will have space colonies. We would have found hundreds of types of new materials to work with. Probably we'd be 3D printing spaceships by then. Robots will be cooking our meals, cleaning our homes. We'd be bionic humans with robotic implants everywhere. I'd like to think the world is a better place and people enjoy happier lives, even higher living standards, too.

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

TC&MM : Welcome to come to our website and take a look : www.hazuto.com.hk. My personal ig is @tom.st.chan

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

HUSBAND-WIFE PARTNERS-IN-CRIME MELANIE MAN AND TOM CHAN SAT UP HAZUTO TO BRING OUR BEST DESIGN IDEAS TO LIFE. WE CHASE THESE VALUES: GROUNDED, UNASSUMING, METICULOUS. WE LIVED IN THE UK FOR SOMETIME BEFORE SETTLING IN HONG KONG AND CREATING HAZUTO – YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THE ENGLISH INFLUENCE ON OUR WORK. TOM ADDS VALUE THROUGH HIS EXPERIENCE IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT THAT IS PATENTED AND AWARDED. MEL BRINGS VALUE WITH A DECADE OF BUSINESS AND MARKETING EXPERIENCE. ONE THING’S FOR SURE: WE WON’T LAUNCH SOMETHING WE WOULDN’T USE OURSELVES, SO YOU CAN BET OUR WORK HAS BEEN THROUGH COUNTLESS ITERATIONS, WHICH HAS DRIVEN OUR SUPPLIERS (AND EACH OTHER) CRAZY FROM TIME TO TIME! WE ARE PLEASED HAZUTO BOARD HAS BEEN AWARDED TWICE WITH A PLUS X DESIGN PRIZE (GERMANY) FOR HIGH QUALITY + DESIGN AND A A’ DESIGN PRIZE (ITALY) BRONZE WINNER.


Hazuto Cutting and Serving Board

Hazuto Cutting and Serving Board by Tom Chan & Melanie Man

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