Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Danyang Ma ("DM") 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?

DM : I am a visual designer currently working in New York. I completed my MFA program at Pratt Institute. And before that, I was working and studying design in Shanghai.

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

DM : Most of my designs are branding projects, as well as typography and posters. I am a visual/strategy person in general so branding is a combination of both of my interests. If there is a type of design I wish to explore more, it would be designing for an exhibition. It's exciting to gather around brilliant artist and designers from multi-discipline, demonstrating the same topic through different medium.

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

DM : In my opinion, good design serves people on their touch-points, and makes users enjoy it without even noticing its existence. However, really good designs are the ones that change human behavior in a subtle and versatile way. Any design that can positively affect a certain group of people is a successful design to me.

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

DM : Design for me is a functioning tool, to advocate undergoing dramatic changes in culture, collective identity, leadership, cooperation, and new business model.

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

DM : I've always considered the actions designers can take in terms of fighting for climate change. I want to design something around the topic of food consumption. Maybe we could design some actual bars, or restaurants, featuring global warming themed foods/drinks, and of course, all of them are plant-based. Mold Magazine has been looking into the design of future food for a long time. They illustrate the possibilities of how humans would preserve and consume food in the future. If humans do nothing about the climate, what will the food be like in the future?

DL: How does design help create a better society?

DM : Changing its users' behavior from daily essential to a larger, longer-term basis, which can make a huge difference in society and the environment. I always believe that designers should feel a cultural obligation along the way in every design process.

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

DM : Our studio is currently working on a comedic project addressing designers' insights and reflections on the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine life. We figured a little humor is at least what designers can do to support everyone under this difficult time.

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

DM : I hope artists and designers can work together to improve the diversity in the design industries and provoke cross-cultural design conversation. We are primarily prioritizing European art and design histories as the key pedagogical source over non-Western design lineages. The minorities, the disabled, and females are not having enough voice in contemporary design discourse. It is great to encourage designers to practice using the visual language that is unique to their specific cultural heritage.

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

DM : I personally believe that self-authorship is the future of design or even every creative industry. We are living under the age when everyone has such easy access to generate small pieces of media with the advantage of technology. Internet and portable devices have further established the acknowledgment of design by worldwide distribution. Design will become accessible to not only professionals but everyone who wants to participate.

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

DM : I think it works both ways. Design swifts and drives social awareness and people's intention to build a life based on humanity and technology, which will benefit the development of design and stimulate it into a higher level in return.

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

DM : People who I work and talk with everyday. I really appreciate the opportunity of producing my idea and getting to know so many aspiring creatives.

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

DM : Mel Chin, an artist who launched an art project generated by AR technology regarding the future of global warming in Times Square. I would like to have a chance to talk with him about climate change, and what designers can do to help with it.


Strange Poster Series

Strange Poster Series by Danyang Ma

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