MICHAEL YOUNG INTERVIEW
Release time: 01.18.2017

Interview with MY: Q&A


Q: It has been ten years since you moved to Hong Kong. During this period, has there been any impressive changes in the design community in Asia?


A: I have witnessed a lot of changes. Shortly after I just moved to Asia, I worked as judge for some design contests in Mainland China. At that time, in my view, the design works submitted by most contestants were not internationalized enough, except those of some transnational brands like Philips. After ten years, a new generation of designers start to cut figures and some very stylish brands have come to the market. Many products of those brands are not for export (but for import), which means the domestic market of lifestyle products has made great progress in the sense of design.

 

Q: You spent 10 years in Europe and another 10 years in Asia. What are the impacts on you from the experiences respectively of the two decades? And how do you think of working with Chinese local designers and brands?

A: 24 years ago, I graduated from the college in London. Though I worked in London, I was soon accepted by the Japanese market. That experience has benefited me a lot. Even now, I still keep a good industrial relation with the Japanese market. Thus, my work in Asia can be dated back much longer.


In Asia, I have learned to respect history and craftsmen. For the Western and the Eastern, I never favour one more than the other. As a designer, I just keep absorbing essences of both cultures. I am often required to design some products for the Chinese market and I was once questioned whether I understood the Chinese market. But, in fact, I am not a deco artist only satisfied by catering the local market. My design serves for brands with global vision and for internationalized consumers. My design works are cross-cultural, which present the respect for each brand or cultural origin. Because they conform to moral principles, and are jointly produced by me and other people with a common goal.


Q: The brands of lifestyle products in China emphasize more on the expansion in the overseas market. As far as you’re concerned, shall these brands embed more ethnic characteristics in their products? Or shall they make some adjustments to meet the taste of foreign consumers? How shall they achieve success in the foreign market?


A: Design is very different from art deco, but they are still connected. If a brand embeds too many local cultural characteristics in its products but without employing any fine technologies that are widely recognized, the products may be considered as some curiosities for decoration by the international market, rather than practical lifestyle products. In my view, a Chinese brand with long-term vision, shall repackage its products, which are made with materials and crafts common in the local culture, to make them more acceptable and usable for consumers. With the essence of the local culture, we can both preserve the local culture behind the brand and expand with global vision.

 

Q: As far as you’re concerned, as a brand of lifestyle products, what are the most unique features of ZENS?


A: Products of ZENS cohere the founders and staff’s love for beauty, and their original ideas on lifestyle design, which are also the two conditions necessary for a reliable brand, or it will descend to a common brand of the industry. A product, made of any material, shall be with vision and soul, which is also the secret of the enduring charm of many Italian established brands. As family brands, each generation of them devote their ultimate enthusiasm to the soul of products and brand culture, which have turned into a part of the nation and history in the end. As time passes by, if there is a new generation with vitality, there will be a new competition in the industry. But ZENS has such kind of competitive potential.

 

Q: We’re going to launch the lamp series designed by you. Could you say something about the design idea of the series?


A: With some keywords determined after discussion, we have decided the basic elements of this series. We want it to adhere to the eco-friendly idea of “sustainable development”, and to be embedded with the Eastern culture. We naturally pick up bamboo as material, as it comes from China. The glass and paper lampshade we use are also made in China. Besides, a more important reason to use bamboo is that it complements the structure of the lamp, as well as is good-looking for decoration. Thus, it’s a rather comprehensive design.

 

Q: What do you think people may feel about such design?

A: They directly reflect the crafts we have employed, with a sense of quietness and peace. But they are also very solid.

 

Q: You have used a lot of aluminum as material in your previous design series. But for this series, you have chosen bamboo, why? How is the eco-friendliness specifically for the bamboo in this series?

A: As a designer, I would like to try different materials. I will put them under the “microscope” to study their different features. For instance, I used aluminum to realize my design. Aluminum, as material, has its own advantages and disadvantages. It may feel good in forging a series of products with warmth. However, bamboo as material is flexible and has been used by people for a long time, which is the most attractive point to me. I can draw inspiration for my creation from its long history of development.

 

Q: Besides bamboo as supporting stand for the lamp, are there other aspects that present the idea of eco-friendliness?


A: Sure. We use recyclable paper for the lampshade to realize eco-friendliness and to fulfill our social responsibilities.

 

Q: If design is an approach to solve problems to you, what is the “problem” that you want to solve in the design of the lamp series?


A: Despite our full understanding of the limits of our materials, I want to further explore their flexibility. For example, how will bamboo bend under natural conditions? The process of aging is some kind of beauty.

 


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