Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Qianying Niu ("QN") 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?

QN : I am a talented and dedicated global brand packaging experience designer. I excel in utilizing various mediums and have demonstrated exceptional skills in packaging experience design in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. I have interned at design agencies and renowned top 10 domestic and international FMCG companies in Connecticut, Chicago, Paris, Shanghai, and Hangzhou, giving me a broad perspective on the design industry. In the FMCG field, I am an outstanding packaging designer. In my personal life, I am an independent artist. I formally define myself as an artist, which I discovered during my graduate studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. During my time at the school, I learned to become my authentic self. My design inspiration comes from my life experiences and the unconscious behaviors and actions of people around me, which I interpret from a unique perspective to create designs that address pain points. My art is influenced by my cultural background, upbringing, and my distinctive gender identity. I have always aspired to be a creative designer and artist, and I believe these two roles are not mutually exclusive. Art is about self-expression, while design is about considering others. Both art and design prompt me to reevaluate and reflect on everyday life.

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

QN : Design, to me, is a magnifying glass through which I view the world. Even the smallest object or action can be made more rational through design. Additionally, design enhances my empathy, as warm and well-crafted designs bring a smile to people's faces and have a positive social impact. I hope to become a designer because I want to use the power of design to influence others.

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

QN : I chose to become a designer myself and have grown to love design more and more on the path to becoming a senior designer.

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

QN : I enjoy working on packaging design because packaging, though a small medium, is tangible and something people encounter throughout their day. I appreciate designs with warmth, unconscious elements, and rich cultural significance. I believe these aspects provide positive emotional value and a humanistic experience for society.

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

QN : My only advice for young designers is to find yourself in your design works. If you haven't found it yet, keep searching.

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

QN : Good Design Gives People What They Say They Want, Great Design Solves People's Problems In Unexpected Ways.

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

QN : Design fulfill its purpose, Easy to understand the message, Aesthetically pleasing, Appropriate style for audience, Original design

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

QN : The value of good design lies not only in its intrinsic product value but also in its additional values, which subtly affect our aesthetic sense, societal perceptions, and even our daily habits. People are willing to pay for beautiful things.

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

QN : I don't like limitations; my audience can be anyone. I only care if my design itself can impact or touch the people I want to reach.

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

QN : I want to create packaging design that resonates with teenage girls, and at the same time, I hope I can bring warmth to them through my design.

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

QN : I sincerely feel and appreciate the ordinary things that happen in life and try to think about how to improve them through design, starting from a small starting point.

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

QN : I enjoy reading the book "WITHOUT THOUGHT" by Naoto Fukasawa, a Japanese design master. It explores his understanding of unconscious design, which has greatly inspired me on my design journey.

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

QN : Many internationally renowned packaging design studios have greatly inspired me, such as Backbone Branding, Landor, Mousegraphics, etc. The Chinese designer I admire the most is Professor Deng Xiongbo from ShenZhen Lingyun Creative Packaging Design.

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

QN : One of my recent favorite designs is the RICEMAN packaging for rice, created by the independent brand studio Backbone in Armenia. "RICEMAN" was chosen as the name to pay tribute to the rice farmers. This packaging not only conveys emotional and humanized messages but also demonstrates functional design and usability. The incorporation of Asian calligraphy symbols on the packaging adds cultural characteristics, making it an exceptional design in my opinion.

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

QN : Reading and Traveling. DesignBoom Magazine is the platform I use to stay updated on the latest design news. I follow the articles published there every day. I enjoy venturing into unknown territories and discovering various designs along the way. I consciously collect them. Photography is another passion of mine. When I capture interesting moments in life, it sparks my thinking. I also appreciate ethnic elements such as totems and murals.

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

QN : Design, to me, is a magnifying glass through which I view the world. Even the smallest object or action can be made more rational through design. Additionally, design enhances my empathy, as warm and well-crafted designs bring a smile to people's faces and have a positive social impact.

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

QN : Family, mentors, and my friend Yu Chen have provided me with great support on my design journey, and his design thinking constantly influences me.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

QN : Being recognized and discovered is important to me. When my designs resonate with more and more people. It's a magical way to build bridges with others through my work. It also motivates me to go further on the path to becoming a designer.

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

QN : It can be quite frustrating when you can't come up with brilliant ideas.

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

QN : To present their thoughts behind the work in the best possible way and express their creative points.

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

QN : I am currently developing a conceptual design that I cannot disclose much about at the moment. I aspire to have my own packaging design agency and become the leading packaging design agency around the world.

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

QN : I enjoy working on packaging design because packaging, though a small medium, is tangible and something people encounter throughout their day. I appreciate designs with warmth, unconscious elements, and rich cultural significance. I believe these aspects provide positive emotional value and a humanistic experience for society.

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

QN : I hope that the designers of our millennial generation can revolutionize the design industry with the power of design, especially after the emergence of AI.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

QN : Design itself has strong communicative power. It is the designer's responsibility to express what they want, to convey positive meaning to society, and to have a positive impact on some people through their designs.

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

QN : I founded a packaging design studio called niugraphiks, which brings together a group of young and innovative designers from the millennial generation. While each of us holds different professional roles in society, we come together to share resources and leverage our individual strengths to provide clients with high-quality visual and packaging designs. You can find us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/niugraphiks/

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

QN : Bamboo Slips Liquor project. This design centers around Zen, using black as the main product color to emphasize purity and profoundness. The package uses bamboo slips as material. It’s the first Chinese liquor to use a non-label design. This award-winning design is a motivation for me, encouraging me to create more packaging designs with Chinese cultural characteristics and to establish a presence for excellent Chinese packaging designs in the world.

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

QN : I hope the design industry in this technologically advanced era can remember the original intention of design, discard some formalism that relies too much on technology, and think about what design itself is and how to use artificial intelligence reasonably.

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

QN : Design is evolving towards more artificial intelligence. In fact, I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing; perhaps things have both positive and negative aspects. However, I believe the essential aspect behind design will remain irreplaceable, involving interdisciplinary thinking. The boundaries between different media will become increasingly blurred, leading to more diverse forms of design expression.

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

QN : The duration of projects varies depending on their type. For small projects, it can take around two weeks if fast-paced, while large projects may take one to two months if more time is required.

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

QN : I am currently developing a conceptual design that I cannot disclose much about at the moment.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

QN : Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

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

QN : Design influences trends, and trends influence design.

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

QN : Technological assistance helped realize the conceptual work in the best possible way.

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

QN : I used design tools such as AI, Photoshop, Cinema 4D, etc.

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

QN : They are important components of design. I appreciate the tactile qualities of all materials and maintain an open attitude towards them. As a good packaging designer, I believe it's essential to have broad acceptance of the materials used in packaging. I also enjoy the tactile experience that different materials provide. Colors are like the palette of design; they can represent the emotions the design intends to convey. The environment serves as the background of the design.

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

QN : The meaning behind the design.

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

QN : How did he/she come up with this design? And how did he/she express it through design?

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

QN : I usually maintain independent thinking and judgment, but teamwork is also important to me.

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

QN : Emily Larned, Cristiana Grether, KHyal, Karl Heine, Yu Chen

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

QN : "WITHOUT THOUGHT" by Naoto Fukasawa

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

QN : Continuously learning and maintaining a passion for design.

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

QN : To my past self, I would say, "Let go and pursue design, be yourself, do what you love. I unconditionally support every decision you make."

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

QN : Awards are a form of recognition for me, and becoming famous is certainly not an easy task. I want to take the time before gaining fame to settle down and gradually accumulate my portfolio. The Italy A' Design Award is internationally renowned, highly recognized, and attracts significant attention. I hope that through this platform, more people will be able to see my design.

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

QN : I like the color blue, pure yet carrying a hint of mystery. My favorite cuisine is Spanish. The brand I like is Le Labo.

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

QN : I was born in China. As a Chinese designer and artist, Chinese ethnic culture bears many historical traces, such as the totems and murals I mentioned earlier. These are valuable visual assets left by our ancestors, deeply imprinted in my memory, and invisibly influencing my later visual style. For example, I incorporate creative calligraphy into packaging design.

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

QN : I visit Pentawards and A Design Awards to find inspiring works.

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

QN : At one point, I thought I might become a cartoonist in the future.

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

QN : The boundaries in the field of design will become increasingly blurred.

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

QN : I hope to connect with more friends through this platform. If you like my design, you can follow my social media accounts: https://www.instagram.com/niugraphiks/



Bamboo Slips Liquor

Bamboo Slips Liquor by Qianying Niu

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