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Interview with Vicky Chan

Home > Designer Interviews > Vicky Chan

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Vicky Chan (VC) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Vicky Chan by clicking here.

Interview with Vicky Chan at Sunday 23rd of April 2017

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?
VC: I was good at Art and Science. Architecture is a natural combination of both. It wasn't clear to me at the beginning that architecture can do both, but after years of practice, I discovered my belief in architecture.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
VC: With over 20 years of experience in architecture and urban planning, our award winning team deliver green buildings and sustainable cities to everyone. We believe design excellence can improve the way we live, work and play. Holistic architecture that combines art and science will make good design for the people and the environment. Our design process will add value to your cities and investment. Our services include urban planning, architecture, interior design and products. We organize our work into 4 studios. A for architecture, B for branding, C for children and D for design. We have 25 awards with projects in 36 cities and 22 countries. Our architecture celebrates sustainability with an international team who is passionate and diverse.

FS: What is "design" for you?
VC: It is an artistic and scientific tool to do good for people and the environment

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
VC: City planning

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
VC: We like the High Line in New York a lot and any other public planning that salvage an old building or old structure. It can't get any more green to retrofit an abandoned place with new purpose.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
VC: A Park for the old Yankee Stadium

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
VC: We like social media a lot. We believes in a global and sustainable economy. Social media is helping us toward that vision.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
VC: When I am are out in nature.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
VC: Social impact, environment impact and technological impact.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
VC: I feel excited that our drawing can change a city the size of Manhattan.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
VC: We feel amazed that some people believe in our crazy thought and gave us money and time to realize it.

FS: What makes a design successful?
VC: Great social impact, environment impact and technological impact.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
VC: Sustainability.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
VC: I see too many design that focus on pretty images and sales. Our planet can no longer accept any more waste. A good design need to add value in our life cycle rather than generating more waste for the next generation. We must fix this waste problem from the beginning as designers.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
VC: We integrate new materials that are biodegradable and new thinking into recycling. I think we are getting very close to cradle to cradle designs.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
VC: Our volunteering group, Architecture for Children, exhibited at the Emerging Professionals Exhibition next to the White House in Washington DC in March 2017. The exhibition promotes citizen designs and it was organized by the American Institute of Architects

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
VC: Children taught me a great deal about design and presentation. When I volunteer to teach, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. It is a win win situation.

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?
VC: Combining art and science is my design style. I was always good at both and it is a natural way to continue my career by showing people that architecture is more than pretty buildings.

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?
VC: I live in Hong Kong and New York. Both urban cities have lots of social and environmental problems, but they are still one of the green places on earth to provide compact living. These cities affects the way I approach a problem. We also have to look at both sides of a problem to balance the environmental and social impact.

FS: How do you work with companies?
VC: They may know some of our buildings and design. They hire us via a commission. We also do a lot of competition to win bigger projects, including city planning.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
VC: Find one that care about people and the environment. With that in mind, they will always do great work. Style and appearance are so unnecessary in our generation.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
VC: I usually interview our clients or survey the site to identify the potentials and challenges. My team does sketches, physical modeling, digital modeling, renderings, drawings, video, VR tour, 3d printing, programing to present our finding and suggestions.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
VC: All of them are trash that my son adopted as his new toy. Packaging for eggs, cardboard boxes for our 3d printer, old advertising paper we never wanted in our mail as his drawing paper, ikea cardboard boxes as our tennis racket at home and plastic bottle as his wind turbines.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
VC: I split between taking care of my family and working. I take my baby to teach, work and construction site. I promote equity, access and sustainability. I am the living example of my message.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
VC: Care about people and the environment. Found your own firm as early as you can. Don't try to work for a design firm. You learn more being an entrepreneur.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
VC: I don't make enough money. Money is not important, but they are very crucial for building development. I always want to build our own building as a developer-architect.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
VC: We must not hurt the environment.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
VC: being multi-disciplinary, open-minded and work very efficiently.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
VC: I use rhinoceros, 3dsmax, all adobe suites, 3d printers, paper modeling, and hand sketches.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
VC: I work very efficiently and just hope for the best. It is inevitable some ideas are bad but they are necessary to prove the good design. I have to go through the bad one as quickly as possible.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
VC: 1 month to 3 years depending on the size

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
VC: Do you get paid a lot?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
VC: I don't think I have one yet, hopefully I get one when I retire. The social impact and sustainable impact of built environment takes a long time to validate.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
VC: city officials, building developers, private business owners with physical building needs

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
VC: City planning. I get to change how people live, work and play in the most influential way.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
VC: I want to expand our projects to more cities globally. I am planning a new African Art museum in Ethiopia with local officials.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
VC: I am an owner of Avoid Obvious Architects with a team of 15 people.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
VC: African modern art museum in Ethiopia. It is known as DiMamu

FS: How can people contact you?
VC: Visit our website www.aoarchitect.us. All forms of contacts and social media is up there.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
VC: I want people to volunteer more and believe in a new capitalism. It is ok to make money while doing good to people and the environment.


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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