Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Chia-Hui Lu ("CL") 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?

CL : I am a classical pianist by training and have performed in manyconcerts around the world. As the Chairwoman of the Egret Foundation, I am deeply involved with the cultural and educational aspects of art. I eagerly lead our team in the continual effort to promote music, culture, and art not just in Taiwan, but globally. Through engaging artists from different fields, we are able to open doors to new opportunities to create new art. Today, I continue to multitask as a community leader, performer, designer, composer, and producer. 
Over the years, I’ve published two piano albums: “Enchanted” and “Amore”. In the cross arts field, I was the Executive Music Director for “Sayion I” and “Sayion II”, where I composed and arranged music for the interactive new media theater productions. In these two productions, our team incorporated 720-degree VR and 3D motion-capture systems. I curated “Impression of Taiwan” for the Art Taipei Expo.XR Obsession is another production that I debuted at theExpo that combined a live piano performance of music and dance in an extended reality 4DViews volumetric capture new media experience. For my personal piano recital, “Water on Fire”, we combined Western classical music with Eastern poetry from a Taiwan poet, Goya Lan.As the producer and art director of a classical repertoire, “Amore”, we reinvented paintings by Paul Chiang, transforming it into animated 3D visuals. More recently, I curated the Sacred Garden as a partner of the international Ars Electronica Festival 2021. Recently our short film productions were featured in several international film festivals. I believe I started listening to music even before I was born, in the belly of my pregnantmother as she prepared and performed a piano concert.In childhood I often played and slept under the piano. The piano is my castle and music has become my religion.Classical Music to me is essential like motherhood and air. I started my classical piano training atthe age of five. I later studied in New York City, where I fell deeply in love with opera and had the opportunity tostudy fashion and Musicals. New York City has changed my life completely.

Growing up was not easy. I had asthma and lived through a period of social unrest where I was separated from my parents and fell under the care of my grandparents. My late grandfather happens to be a renowned painter in Taiwan and a world traveler. His paintings include both western and eastern styles. I used to be his little helper and modeled for him. I grew up with artists and musicians.Art and music is a basic part of my life.

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

CL : Art has always captured my full attention and creating new works has always been my calling. In my view,Art is a very powerful form of communication that influences our perception, value, and opinion. Once created, it captures the essence of its time, adding to the collective memory of society.I find myself constantly amazed at all the out of the box thinking that leads to avant-garde creations. Through these experiences along with their respective cultural uniqueness, I am inspired.Iamnever content with the status quo, hence I find myself constantly learning from other artists and experts.And through collaboration, we are able to push the boundaries of art as we know it.

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

CL : It wasn’t by force upon me. No one can force me to do things I don’t want.It was my choice and over time, with rigorous enjoyable work, I have become a composer and artist.

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

CL : I design for Performing art. I enjoy and want to compose and design for performances, theater, and films.But really, I don’t want to limit myself. I love to explore, so I will continue to be a cross art artist.

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

CL : “Failure is the mother of success” When you fail, don’t give up. All you need to do is keep on trying. I believe when one door is closed, another one will be open for you. Always have an open heart and accept new things. Stay hungry, curious and focused! Never stop learning and constantly observe your surroundings which may be the important keys you need to unlock your creative success. Humbly learn everything you can from nature, history, and experts. Be bold and fearless!Embrace your uniqueness and stay true to yourself. Artists will always believe in themselves despite countless obstacles and criticisms thrown at them. Rules are made by people, so don’t be afraid to be different and do breaksome rules whileyou'reatit. Don’t forget to work hard, play hard, and create hard.

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

CL : A good design impresses you. As time goes by the impression can fade away. But a great design touches your heart and stays with you forever.

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

CL : Though there are standard check boxes to tick off, I also judge a design based on my instincts and feelings. Everything matters, so you have to look at the full picture. Whatever catches my eyes first. Sometimes it is color, sometimes it is the format, sometimes it is the titles, sometimes it is the story behind the work. It really happens every time and is notsimple to explain. Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it grows on you. A great design will also speak to you and will make you contemplate it. It may even touch your soul and solidify a place in your heart.

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

CL : A good design is priceless. Investing in good designs is equivalent to supporting talented artists. Good designs should be well recognized and brought to the attention of otherdesigners as well as to the general public. Only through disseminationof good design, can the world learn, adapt, and make progress to higher levels of design.

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

CL : I once had a passion to become a fashion designer. When I was younger, I did study fashion design once, at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. It was a great experience and perhaps if Ihad more time, I mayconsider getting out of my current comfort zone and design some women's fashion wear.

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

CL : My dream project will be one where I can work withglobalartists to create a grand work of artistry. A project that will create a strong global brand for all the collaborators. A work of artistry that will be a welcomedaddition to the finest museums,collectors galleries, and archives.

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

CL : This may sound ridiculous, but my secret recipe and inspiration comes from my dreams. My mind is very creative in my sleep.I can have episodic dreamsspanningnights. Most of my ideas and inspiration come from my dreams. I have had this ability since childhood. It’s a blessing and a curse. The negative is that I barely get any rest at night. I would wake up tired and sometimes stressed out so early in the morning. Once I dreamt that alion pounced and ripped openmy chest. The shock awoke me to find myself withheart pain. I have noticed that dreams do affect me physically and mentally. A number of my compositions and themes to my productions and stories have directly come from my dream.

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

CL : My favorite composers are Debussy and Ravel. They are the fresh air of Classical Music. These French masters established impressionism in music, setting them apart from the traditional German-Austrian Music. 
My favorite artist is surrealist Salvador Dali. He is full of ideas and surprises. He is crazily wild inside out. No one creates and thinks like him. He is beyond genius.

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

CL : My Favorite fashion designers are Alexander McQueen and Jean Paul Gaultier. I love Alexander McQueen because his dresses rock. He is a genius, but he is way too young and talented to be gone with the wind. Gabrielle Chanel was a style trend setter. She liberated women from corsets, leading to comfortable, confident and elegant modern fashion. She sponsored composer Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”. She was a close friend of artists Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. With Dali and together they worked on the Bacchanale ballet, designing eccentric elements (red lobsters, teeth) on ordinary clothes. She truly is a role model for the modern women. My favorite architect is Antoni Gaudi. He is a dream and fantasy builder. His architecture is the Disneyland for adults.

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

CL : My greatest design is XR Obsession. It is an innovative engaging performing art. A Unique production that combines a live music performance of my music composition with animated artwork and a AR dancer at an XR level. XR Obsession was selected and sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of culture. We pushed the envelope, debuting an exciting and touching new cross-art performance at the opening ceremony of IMPRESSION OF TAIWAN at the 26th Annual International Art Expo, Art Taipei, with a venue at the World Trade Center in Taipei, Taiwan. It vividly traverses Taiwan history, art, and natural beauty through time and space. The beautiful ancient landscape paintings of my late grandfather Houei-Kuen Chen are brought to life.Dynamic 4D views volumetric capture fuses with 3D animation. Real time capture of the live performance using a 3D depth sensor camera enabled a true XR experience (XR=AR+VR+MR) A live performance blends alternate realms and is projected on a LED wall for all to enjoy a new immersive experience. Through music and art, mystical tales are told and beautiful scenery comes to life. 
The beauty of performing art is its dynamic live nature, making each performance unique. The viewers are also the participants, adding a new fun factor. As in "Alice in the wonderland", the journey in curiosity, imagination, and adventure is what we delivered. On top of that, we provided a musical alternate reality experience without the need for AR/VR headsets.

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

CL : Stay hungry, curious and have an open heart. Never stop learning and constantly observe your surroundings which may be the important keys you need to unlock your creative success. Humbly learn everything you can from nature, history, and experts. Be bold and fearless! Embrace your uniqueness. Stay true to yourself and believe in yourself.

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

CL : What if or what could I have been? There is no turning back in life. I feel like I am exactly where I want to be.No regrets.

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

CL : A design should stand out in its aesthetics and uniqueness. It should be one of the kind.

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

CL : My mom is my teacher and mentor. She is my best adviser, ever. She is also my hero and role model. My husband is my right hand man. He helps me a lot and provides mewith very useful insight. He is also my best critic and audience. My sponsor is like a father to me. He believes in me and is an unwavering supporter of my works.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

CL : I am humbled and blessed to have created wonderful winning designs and creations. I thank God for all the blessings. Classical Music is deeply rooted in my core. Plato once said Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Music is my fairytale and through music, I can picture all kinds of stories and colors. Music to me is more vibrantly colorful than the rainbow. From my perspective, music in itself is a film, though sound is considered invisible.

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

CL : I once interviewed Pianist Gary Graffman and asked him what drives him to continue performing. He told me that music is his core and that he will never stop. But after an injury, he explored other ways to enrich his life. His friend Leon Fleisher on the other hand would go to the ends of the earth to try to heal his injury so that he may perform. I was born with asthma and my tailbone was injured at the age of twelve. Though playing the piano may be at times physically demanding, it always brings me great joy. Music saved me mentally and I will never let go despitemy injuries. Inspired by Gary Graffman, I started exploring composing, theater, exhibitions, andfilm. When one door closes another opens to you. I havebecome a multi artist.

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

CL : With confidence. Don’t be afraid to be different. Try to keep it short and effective. People these days are too busy and have short attention spans. Don’t make it too long nor too difficult tounderstand. Overwhelm them with action and works, not words. And don’t get lost in translation.

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

CL : My new composition is on its way. The visual’s direction is unknown at this point. I need more time to think. Trying to top yourself is harder and much lonelier than I had thought.

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

CL : To leave a legacy of great designs, compositions, and cross-art productions. Works that will inspire future generations of designers and artists.

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

CL : With great talent comes great expectation. People always look for newer, greater, and hotter designs. It’s a lot of pressure if you want to live up to high standards.I believe it is best tostay true to yourself and to make sure to let go from time to time.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

CL : I believe music and art designs should serve a higher purpose. It can purify your body, mind and soul. It can also inspire, triggering the inner voice of creativity. As we traverse through this dark pandemic episode, music and art designs should provide intangible comfort on the spiritual level, to inspire hope and inner strength. I wish I can continue to elevate music and art to soothe and to induce our inner creativity, imagination, and explosiveness. Throughout history, people have used music and art to convey their beliefs, inner thoughts and emotions. Sacred music was composed for religious and societal influence. Music proved to be especially powerful in its use in courtship, prayer, worship, sacrifice, divination, and primitive rituals. One can understand how music and art can be extremely robust mediums that can help accomplish goals of significant importance. Nowadays, music and art is omnipresent and in my view, diluted, through mainstream entertainment, commercials, social media, and memes. I believe the role and responsibility of an artist is to refocus the unbounded potential of music and art for a higher purpose. As technology advances, we can imagine even greater possibilities to produce new innovative performing art. And we should embrace technology with a healthy blend of humanity’s warmth and meaning. Otherwise art will fall to the hollowness of AI or the shallowness of pop society. Artists should bring music and art back to its original high value and high importance state, where it may emanate profound influence and appeal.

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

CL : I am part of a large production called “Nexen.” It will debut atthe Taipei Art Performing Center in September. I’m working with a renowned director, a photographer, dancers and visual artists. It’s a cross art collaboration involving multiple complex surrealistic scenes. There is acting, singing, dancing, and a piano performance in a baseball stadium sizedperforming art center with Audience seating in from the front of the stagethrough to the back. It’s a challengingendeavor encompassing three linked theaters withperformances taking place simultaneously on all stages. It’s like a metaverse drama on stage. I am really looking forward to the final Outcome.

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

CL : I was invited to exhibit and perform at Art Taipei. As a Chairwoman at the Egret cultural and educational Foundation, our mission is to brand and promote Taiwan art and culture with a parallel goal to inspire. At Art Taipei, I performed XR Obsession to international and local art dealers, artists, collectors, pedestrians, and numerous students on field trips. I used iPads to run one on one AR demos and used a 3D sensor camera to capture and enable an XR experience for the audience. There was also a group masterpiece painting we called ART IS FUN that was a hit with visitors ages 3-90. On a wall sized LED screen, we played past cross art productions in a loop, attracting many visitors to get inspired. Our live XR Obsession on debut day was recorded and added to the films played in a time loop. Watching visitors dancing alongside our production, raising questions about our artwork, and fighting over iPad to take selfies with our AR, I felt that this was more fulfilling than performing on stage. I didn't realize, promoting music, art and culture through new interactive mediums can be so satisfying. Creating innovative interactive art for people to engage with curiosity and enthusiasm makes a lot of sense, especially in this technological era of connectedness we live in today.Through XR Obsession, I have found a new passion. I believe this production has inspired others to dig deep, to find their core values that will take them on their own journey to new discoveries and creations.

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

CL : I believemusic is the behind the scenehero. Music can exist alone in its most abstract art form. Movies, ballets, modern dances, and shows require music in the background to be complete. From John William's (American film composer) interviews, he emphasized that people don't really notice the power that music delivers to support other art forms. Many old movies are classics today because of the music that underscores them. In all of my creations, my starting point is an inspiration that leads to my music composition, from which it is transformed using other cross-art mediums. Music is invisible. It iseasy to carry on from generation to generation. I believe it is the greatest form of art. But music is understated and under valued in the market.In the future, there should be a revolutionary trend that will take new music design to higher level of worth.

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

CL : There will be more computer aided design and interactive design. AI will play a bigger part in generating new designs and the humanwill select from themillions of designsamples. Design may become less human in time.

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

CL : It varies.It also depends on what kind of production and how complex the design is. There’s no set pattern and the design may evolve over time. My multimedia works have gone through several versions and generations. If you haven't noticed, allow me to point out that even great classical compositions in the past have gone through various versions. They may have beenadapted, rearranged, and or recomposed for different instruments and combinations.

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

CL : As to music composition design, I do start the blueprint with main themes. A theme is like the engine in the car, the heart of the body. I may have a primary theme and secondary theme. I develop themes and do all kinds of variations and transformations. I also build transitions and connecting bridges to combine the two themes. Sometimes I will reverse or twist the direction of themes or merge the themes. There are many different ways to play with the themes.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

CL : Seize the music and find your rhythm

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

CL : It works both ways. Sometimes trend setters are the rule breakers. Be bold and wild. Think outside of the box.

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

CL : We expect advancements in design to continue at a speedy pace as we all live in digital time. Artificial intelligence will become a very important part of our life. But we must try to better understand the limitations of technologies and from there we can do our best to work with it to create new innovative designs. I believe technology brings great possibilities to innovate new art and design. But technology should be blended with warmth, humanity and meaning. Otherwise we are no different than AI.

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

CL : Most of our projects are live performances on a piano or with an orchestra. On multimedia and animation, our team incorporate 720-degree VR and 3D motion-capture systems to capture live dancers and actors that will later be infused and portrayed in VR, AR, XR platforms. We have also developed augmented reality software to be used on smartphones and iPads. Our development environment includes: Unity, Blender3d, and AI Image Quality on 2xAzure Kinect. We also use high performance computer for real time rendering among other computation.

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

CL : They are as important as the fabric you use for apparel design. Or the freshness required of seafood gourmet. The right key for music. The color, material and ambient in design are the basic ingredients and thus very important part of a design. It’s vital.

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

CL : I want people to be inspired by my works. Viewers should have their own opinions which should be personal and subjective. Whatever questions they have about my design shows curiosity and are most welcomed.

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

CL : What’s the product for? Any specific purpose or function? Is it for collecting purposes? Great design can be both functional and artistic. But sometimes too artistic a design may not be very functional. It all depends on your priority at the moment.

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

CL : I am a soloist, but I also work collaboratively with otherdesigners and artists incross-art productions. Working on designs can spark many ideas, but working chemistry is very important.

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

CL : Life is a constant learning process and the more people you meet the better chance you have in getting new inspiration. In the past, my music professors have influenced me greatly. As I move to the field of cross-art production, industry experts of all fields have made a big impact.

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

CL : A translated book about Greek Mythology given to me by my father. I was shocked after reading that Greek Gods and goddesses are so similar tohuman beings. They all desire, hate, fight one another, and are fullof jealousy. Another book is “Interpretation of Dreams," by Sigmund Freud. It is also given to me by my father. My episodic dreams can be both interesting and scary. It’s good to know that there are people out there that have crazy dreams like me.

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

CL : Nonstop practicing and learning. Have the experimental spirit of a scientist. Consistency and curiosity are very important.

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

CL : Plato once said Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Although Plato is neither a musician nor an artist, he certainly understands the power of music. I would like to meet Plato to discuss music and art. I would like to meet psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He met with the famous composer Gustav Mahler. I would like to find out more about their meeting session. And I would love to discuss with him about all my dreams.

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

CL : On behalf of theEgret Foundation, we aretruly humbled and honored to receive the A’design Awards. The recognition from such a world renowned and prestigious competition fills us with great pride and achievement. Since the win, it has boosted our confidence in our ability to create works with international appeal. The award has undoubtedly fueled our drive to create even more meaningful art pieces in the future.

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

CL : My favorite colors are purple and green. Purple is mysterious. Green is the color of nature. My favorite place is Venice. I had the sweetest memory there. The fact that the city is built on top of the water is amazingly dreamy. My favorite food happens to be Taiwanese fruits. Taiwan is known as the kingdom of fruits asitconsists of a wide variety of tasty fruit. My favorite season is spring becauseit is full of vitality.

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

CL : After a long arduous road we had completed our cross art production “Amore”. My team asked me how I felt after the premier? I toldthem that I finally realized why Romeo and Juliet both died in the end. No one can survive such an extreme kind of emotional roller coaster of Love. Afterwards, one of my production team members became worried that I may be on the verge of committing suicide. He totally misunderstood my joke.

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

CL : I wake up to do my dream work. And I go to bed to dream about my work.

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

CL : I admit that I was a bit eccentric, and stood out like a unicorn. I had a hard time blending in.

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

CL : Humans will be more united as interplanetary travelers and a different way of life will commence.

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

CL : Looks and words can be deceiving. But my art is the true reflection of my inner world. I hope to invite everyone to be inspired. May you all have a wonderful journey.



Amore New Performing Art

Amore New Performing Art by Chia-Hui Lu

Design Legends Logo

© 2020 Design Legends - All Rights Reserved

Design Legends platform highlights valuable insights from the best designers from across the globe; a great resource for all designers to learn, reflect and think about good design and how good design helps create value for the society.

Design Legends website was created by DesignPRWire and A' Design Award to promote truly great designers, outstanding architects and inspirational artists that contribute to the development and advancement of society with their outstanding works.