Redefining Designer, a salon-style exchange meeting, took place at S.POINT F1 Space at 7pm 24 March, 2018. Invited to the event were five designers from different sectors, who shared with the audience on their understanding of Redefining Designer. Jointly launched by S.POINT and Shanghai Design, the event gathered nearly 100 colleagues from the design circles. The live stream online was watched by nearly 1,000 viewers.
The salon at S.POINT office
Lin Weizhou, MC & Founder of Shanghai Design Group
The salon took place in three parts. In Part I, the guest speakers shared their insights. In Part II, a round table discussion took place. In Part III, the guest speakers interacted with the audience. The highlights of the salon are shared below.
Graduated from Central Saint Martins, Erica now leads the Honeywell CMF team. Starting from her own work experience, Erica shared her thoughts on the “designer redefined.” “CMF refers to Color, Material & Finishing. Traditionally, many companies regard CMF as color matching, so wrong. The designer is more than a craftsman.”
“CMF connects the product with the user via a deep-running thread of the very senses. Our work must consider user mentality, the market, and even national policies. We try and identify the most suited solution by sorting out huge and seemingly disconnected data. We must gather the most up-to-date color trends and the latest processes. We must also play the engineer’s role, following up with the factory, understanding the many metrics. All these require strong communication skills. Therefore, to be a top CMF designer, you must have a big skillset. I believe the same is required on designers of other sectors.”
James has completed the transition from an industrial designer to a project leader. What are some of the elements that have helped him make it happen? James shared his experience. “Before joining S.POINT, I’ve been an industrial engineer for six years. Joining S.POINT, which implements a project-based management system, the designer must get involved in the project early on when trying to define the market. The designer must take the leading role. Before, I have the know-how of being an ID designer. Now I get to know why. This represents the biggest difference between design and project work.”
“I’ve felt another change in recent years. More and more customers are demanding more than design. They want to have a complete solution. An OEM with channels and resources needs more consumer insights. I help the OEM. Another example is a company that gets consumer attention but doesn’t have the capacity for R&D. Our product design methodology can help the company. Now the designer must know why to play a big role, as demanded by the current business conditions. ”
Albert, a jury member at iF 2017, has 20 years’ experience in design. A design old hand, he used to serve as Senior Design Director of YUNEEC and Global Design Director of TCL. He shared his insights with young designers. “I used to read a report about how AI would replace human labor in certain industries. The designer job, according to the report, is threatened. Well, will the designer job disappear in the future? I don’t think so. AI doesn’t feel. The designer feels. That’s why the designer will prevail. Through passion, the designer will break down all boundaries and will not be restricted by tradition. In the future, the designer will increasingly follow the instinct, the acumen. In the future, the designer must tell a better story about design concept, to show the human passion embedded in the design.”
Steven used to work with PwC. He’s got a MBA degree. He follows logic and rationality all the time. He doesn’t seem to be the regular designer. However, he connects logic with creativity perfectly, thus maximizing design. “I joined S.POINT three years ago. The first challenge at S.POINT came when a leading nutrition food brand name wanted us to help develop its strategy for the next five years. They asked us to use design methodology to develop the strategy and convince them. This was a standard consulting service request, but why did they approach us as a design company? I think it’s because consultancy tends to answer questions for the time, but is not good for developing a 5-year strategy. Instead, design thinking can do that.”
“Consumer demands-driven, design thinking generates detailed product directions based on design work. In the early stage, of course we use many consulting service methods too to define market opportunities. The left and right brains have to work together and we succeed in doing that. Through a bit training and practicing, the designer is able to the solve the business problem and maximize business value.”
S.POINT Founder Zhou Yi shared his thoughts. He also raised a key question: “Can a 36-year-old continue to be a designer?” A provocative question that stimulated a lot of thinking. “At the age of 36, you are mature, with rich industry experience. Now you’ve got to make the decision. Am I still OK to be a designer? I can give the answer. If you are still a designer at the age of 36, you are doomed. At the age of 36, you have to be a know-it-all. You have to be in charge of the whole process. This is what I have to share with designers as a business manager,” said Zhou.
Zhou also shared his insights serving as 2018 iF jury member. “The iF award was established by the German government to encourage good design at the time when German manufacturing was getting started and needed design support. Therefore, the criteria of the iF award focus not on pure design metrics, but on how design helps with delivering the good product. In this connection, the iF award celebrates the good products. I hope the designer to design good products with real value, to improve our lives.”
For more highlights, see the video recording.
No matter how you might define your own life, please, as a designer, keep curiosity and remember why you choose the design industry.