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Interview with Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio

Home > Designer Interviews > Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio (SA) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio by clicking here.

Interview with Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio at Sunday 23rd of April 2017
Studio Twist Architecture & Interior Design Studio
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?
SA: When I was still in school, I wanted to be an artist. I always had many ideas of things I want to build, or visions that I want to draw, or thoughts and feelings I want to express. Then I went to architecture school, simply thinking that architecture as the “mother of all arts” will satisfy my urges. It did, and more, steered me into the realm of design. To me, one fundamental difference is that most Art has an elevated sense of purpose dealing with questions about humanity but is actually low on functionality and usefulness, whilst vice versa, most architecture uses its functionality to justify its reason for being, but rarely addresses deeper questions about what humanity can be. I hope we will be able to create designs that are high on both aspects.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SA: Studio Twist is founded in 2007 in Shanghai, an integrated architecture and interior design firm focused on the creation of one-of-a-kind buildings and spatial environments that enhance the character and identity of place for our design-minded clients. Through creative yet pragmatic design solutions that are specific to context, ambitions and constraints of each project, we facilitate effective ways for how we live, work and play in our ever-changing world today.

FS: What is "design" for you?
SA: Design is creation of future scenarios that address specific issues.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SA: Projects that ask for new inventive solutions that address problems in special ways.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SA: We always want to create materiality whose own integrity is self-evident or expressed.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
SA: When I am relaxed yet focused.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SA: The concept is the crux of a design and that is where I spend most of my focus.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SA: When ideas flow with little eureka moments, it’s a sense of slow euphoria coupled with excited anticipation.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SA: There is always an element of wonder, when something that was sketched and modelled and drawn over and over again starts to stand in front of my eyes as a physical object or space, the bodily sensations that I feel in relation to the real thing, always stronger and different from the virtual conjuring during design stages.

FS: What makes a design successful?
SA: When people use the space, and develop a sense of connection with it, and in turn that space does something to the person, a new thought, a new sensation, a new feeling, and the person is therefore richer in their experiences for it.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SA: Design cannot do everything or solve every problem, so when debating what is good design and what is not as good, it is important to evaluate the results in terms of the starting ambitions of the project, whether the ambition is appropriately set, and whether the results fulfil those objectives. Great design, however, transcends its functional objectives, and starts to breathe of new possibilities never seen or experienced before.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SA: Designers are equipped to be motivators of change, and it is important that we push this change for the better rather than the worst. The difficulty is, we are all part of the pervasive capitalist economy, and a lot of design is often the creation of unnecessary luxuries, rather than essential improvements. Perhaps it is important for us as designers to set our own design problems not based on what the market may want, but based on what the future of mankind may need.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SA: More and more people are engaging in design, or so it seems, through new forms of digital social networks where increasingly more people are expressing their ideas about design. When so many people are voicing their opinions and creating at the same time, it is even more important to make sense of all this excessive production and chatter. Can good design be democratically determined? I don’t think so, although enduring design without designers has historically evolved through iterations by different authors over generations. Will the role of designers be diminished and replaced by algorithms or networks of contributors? I think designs that don’t question the status quo and don’t invent or tweak out something new will be the first kinds that become automatically generated. The most pressing issue in the future of design that serves humankind is about asking what should design do for us?

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
SA: A lot of it comes from Art, and reading about other designers’ creative work.

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?
SA: I like to think of our work as not belonging to any style, although it is difficult not to be part of modernism or contemporary trends in generative digital design. We like to see ourselves as creators of inventive architecture, our own evolving artistic style that emerges on a project by project basis based on our intellectual reasoning and instinctive narratives. Inventiveness is important, because design needs to solve problems and offer new solutions, not just repeat the status quo.

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?
SA: I grew up in Singapore, lived and worked in London for 6 years, before living in Shanghai for the past 10 years. Singapore imported a lot of design ideals as it struggles to position its uniqueness as a tropical island state with a colonial history, whilst Shanghai catapulted into modernity in a similar way of absorbing western influences, albeit with Chineseness at its core constantly creating interesting mutations and adaptations. Meanwhile, London, often deemed the design capital of the world, continues to be at the forefront of attracting and generating new ideas in art and architecture. I observed that design tastes and symbols of class evolve quite fast amidst the rapid urbanization and modernization in Shanghai, and there is certainly cross-pollination in ideas stemming from my past experiences in these different cities that inform what I think could be in the future.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
SA: It is important for companies to appoint a key project driver, not just a project manager, but a driver of the ambitions and defender of the ultimate purpose of the project. Such a person will be the champion for the brand or the project, by which clarity will reveal the right designers that match the purpose. A good project starts with a client who is ready and knows what it is looking for.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
SA: Our design process identifies the ultimate design objective and builds up an in-depth understanding of the essence of each project by revealing the most positively productive relationships between key issues. WHY? In order to gain insights into the brief at the outset, we come up with the right questions to ask, questions that will reveal the crux of the problem, questions that may put the motives in different perspectives, questions that bring out the true raison d'etre of the project. WHAT IF? Based on these insights, which may be contextual, programmatic, and cultural and so on, we generate ideas and proposals that postulate extraordinary scenarios.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
SA: We use a range of tools, from sketches, to a collection of reference images, to making physical models in the office, 3D digital modelling to visualize complex geometry and spaces, and story-telling scripts, anything that can help us develop our ideas and clarify the design.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SA: There are clear milestones within the concept design process that helps clarify the direction. This is the stage that requires most time in order for the concept to grow and mature, after which design development and production of construction documentation will be time-controllable tasks.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
SA: Depends on the scale of the project, the conceptualization may take anything between a week to a few months.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
SA: My work experience at Arup’s Advanced Geometry Unit in London after graduating from Architectural Association in London.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SA: We work as a team where each team member has their own specialty and focus.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
SA: We are currently working on 2 cinemas that will be built in Chongqing and one in Chengdu this year.

FS: How can people contact you?
SA: lipchiong@studio-twist.com


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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