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Interview with Arry Yu

Home > Designer Interviews > Arry Yu

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Arry Yu (AY) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Arry Yu by clicking here.

Interview with Arry Yu at Sunday 22nd of April 2012
Arry Yu
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
AY: Since childhood, I've always had a talent in art and music spending countless hours in the art studio drawing and painting. I loved art and even considered going full-time to art school until I discovered business and technology during my college years. I feel that I always have been and will continue to be an artist that creates experiences in many different realms, whether it is in furniture or technology.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
AY: My company, Arry Designs, Inc is focused on taking the concept of the patent-pendingcontinuously extendible surface of the Arry Table and apply it in many different scenarios: free-standing dining table, office furniture, living furniture, benches and seating, and conference tables. Arry Designs, Inc. is devoted to creating flexible, simple, sophisticated furniture that allows people who live or work in smaller spaces to have more options.

FS: What is "design" for you?
AY: Design to me is the art of creating experiences that moves the human spirit in a way that is enjoyable, intuitive, and useful.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
AY: I like designing works that impact how other people live or work.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
AY: My most favorite design is currently the iPad by Apple. The form factor is light to carry, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use. It interfaces with many different business to create add-on applications, accessories, products and services. The user experience within the iPad is intuitive - even a young child can quickly figure out how to use it. It is visually appealing to use, so much that the experience is magical. The iPad is interconnected with all of the Apple family products like iTunes, and the Apple TV. As a standalone product and as part of the Apple ecosystem, the exterior and interior design of the iPad is one that I admire.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
AY: The first thing I designed for a company was a sales awards program that gave recognition to the top performers of a large software company. The system I helped design and develop allowed several thousand employees to nominate the top sales performers. The nominations were then routed through an approval and judging process. The top sales performer winners were notified and given several award choices at the end of it.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
AY: My favorite material is wood - I love all different varieties of wood, how versatile it is in terms of what you can do to modify and treat it, mold it, and mix and match it with other kinds of materials. It's a very grounded, organic, wholesome material.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
AY: I feel most creative when working with a lot of unknowns, open space and time, and with a vision about what I want to feel at the end of whatever I am working on. A lot of what I build and create is based on the feeling I want to achieve.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
AY: The aspect of design I focus on most when designing, whether in furniture or technology, is the end user experience - and what the design can do to make the experience enjoyable, intuitive and useful for them.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
AY: The emotions I feel during the design process is a focused excitement that really wants to make a difference for someone or many people at the end of it all. It's inspiring and energizing.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
AY: When designs are realized, I feel an anxious desire that looks for affirmation on the designs. I feel both a sense of relief and a sense of urgency to figure out what else could be improved upon.

FS: What makes a design successful?
AY: A successful design is always focused on the end user - especially in the design of products and services. It's always about the people at the beginning, during, and at the end of the journey.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
AY: The first aspect I look at always is the visual appeal - does the design please the eye and heart? The second aspect I look at is whether or not it is intuitive - does the design make sense? A person should be able to understand the design with minimal instruction.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
AY: The responsibility of a designer, whether it is in designing products or services, is to always put people first in both the micro-experience of the individual user and the macro-experience of society as a whole. It is the responsibility of the designer to look for materials, processes, and solutions that make sense - this includes using recyclable materials, and green environmentally safe products and processes.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
AY: The design field is evolving and now the world of design is about creating a holistic ecosystem of products. Products that are built with other products in mind. Services that work with other services. An ecosystem of design intertwined where the actions of one always impacts another.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
AY: N/A

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
AY: My design inspiration is all around giving people choices. I look at a table and think why does it have to be that way just because that's the way it has always been. I feed my creativity by thinking outside of the box and being open. My sources of inspiration are fed by my desire to change the world to be a better place.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
AY: My design style is one that is practically motivated and simply executed. My design style is made mostly by the fact that I am not a designer by education or trade - so that allows me to look at products and services from a completely different perspective that is very user centric.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
AY: I live in Seattle, WA in the United States. I believe there may be some influence from the culture heritage of my country, the United States, on my design in that I love mid-century modern. The cultural heritage of the city, Seattle, WA where I live also influences my design. Seattle, WA is a city that prides itself on being a good mix of both history and the future with both the past of the Native Americans mixed with the technology pioneers in one region. Seattle, WA also prides itself as a very environmentally, and socially-conscious city. The pros during designing as a result of living in the United States is that I have literally anything and everything at my fingertips - access to knowledge, tools, and artisans that I need to create the best. The cons during designing as a result of living in the United States is that because it is a fairly new country, I do not have as much access to the old world history and legacy like designers in older countries. I do not know whether my pros or cons have positively or negatively impacted my designs - they are things I recognize and ponder at times.

FS: How do you work with companies?
AY: I work with people in companies, person to person. I look for common values and seek to build a trusting relationship with whomever I work with. I believe that at the core of everything is people - people use processes, people use products, people run companies.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
AY: My suggestions are to work with the designer in building a relationship with a person, and look to work with designers that understand the big picture and seek to build relationships. When both parties, companies and designers, have mutual respect for each other as humans first, all else will follow. The rules for building a strong relationship apply - mutual respect, open communication, honesty, and friendship.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
AY: My design process involves having an internal dialogue between myself and the ideal end user, having dialogues with actual real users while being as agnostic as possible about the actual material/process/technology to be used in the final product, and then creating and iterating on the actualization of the design.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
AY: 1.) the Arry Table, 2.) the iPad, 3.) the Keurig coffee maker, 4.) my refurbished antique early 1900s sofa, and 5.) our Eames chair.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
AY: During the week, Monday through Friday. Wake up. Check digital messages in email, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin. Check calendar/schedule for the day. Drink coffee and have breakfast. Walk my dog. Open laptop and respond to message. Drive to meetings (I have anywhere from 5-10 meetings a day). I work on my laptop or iPad in between meetings. Also in between meetings, I respond to messages I can. Often in between meetings, I am driving to the next meeting. Sometimes I eat lunch. Return home in the evening. Walk my dog. Prepare and eat dinner. Begin working on laptop until I need to go to sleep (I work on several projects on any given day, including Arry Designs and my consulting work). Sleep.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
AY: The key to good design and being a good designer is always people - understand your audience, your user, your end customer and build relationships.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
AY: Positives of being a designer is that a designer is always critiquing and looking for ways to improve everything. The negatives of being a designer is that a designer is always critiquing and looking for ways to improve everything.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
AY: The "golden rule" in design is similar to that of the new "golden rule" where as a designer, always think of yourself as the end customer. The new "golden rule" states, "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them", which means, focus always on the people.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
AY: The most important skill for a designer is empathy - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
AY: My favorite tool to use during design, whether it is designing furniture or designing a technology solution, is the traditional pen and paper. Pen and paper allows me to think outside of the box, gives me an open forum to create a future state/vision, and allows me to stay connected to the present.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
AY: Designing is a very time consuming task that requires some relative freedom of time and tools in order to be successful - sometimes designing includes pen and paper. Sometimes designing happens while driving. Sometimes designing involves focusing the end state of feeling you are trying to achieve before you can design the actual product/service.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
AY: Most of the time, it takes anywhere from a couple weeks to many months. Sometimes it can take years, especially if you count the iterations, versions, and revisions.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
AY: The most frequently asked question to me is always around how I was able to go from an idea to an actual product. Many people have many ideas, but what is it that takes one of those people with one of those ideas to actually do it?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
AY: One of my most important job experiences was working on a consulting project that focused on the realm of creating trustworthy user experiences. This project was originally supposed to last one month but ended up last about three years. In this job experience, I was able to learn intimately the importance of focusing on the end user and designing holistically. Designing holistically means looking not only at the design aesthetics, the technical functionality, the processes. Designing holistically means focusing on the end user and looking at the big picture of the user's emotional, mental, physical, and unconscious states that are affecting the end experience. In this job is where I learned that the best designs tie all of these factors together and are enjoyable, intuitive, and useful.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
AY: Most of my clients are professionals - lawyers, software developers, and fellow designers.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
AY: The type of design work I enjoy most is working around a space that is undefined and involves "changing the world" in some aspect. I love to learn and when working in a problem space that is undefined, I get to learn many new things at once very quickly. Having some part of the project that involves "changing the world" excites and motivates the dreamer inside of me.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
AY: My future plans is all built around getting my dreams off the ground and realized. I want to see my designs enjoyed by people all over the world. I hope to sell my first 100 tables this year - and am looking for ways to more effectively do so. I love the idea of being a designer that gets to feed my designs to others to be used by other brands and companies.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
AY: I develop and work as a team, even though at this current time, I am the sole owner of the designs. I enjoy working with others and vendors to develop the best solutions.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
AY: I have also developed an Arry Bench that goes with the Arry Table. The Arry Bench allows seating for 3 people when the bench is not extended, and as many as 6 people when the bench is extended. The Arry Bench also uses the patent-pending continuously extendible surface design, like the Arry Table.

FS: How can people contact you?
AY: People can contact me via my website, www.arrytable.com or by directly emailing me, Arry@ArryTable.com. I am always happy and open to meet people.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AY: Not at this time.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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