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Interview with Hikoko Ito

Home > Designer Interviews > Hikoko Ito

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

Interview with Hikoko Ito at Tuesday 22nd of October 2019
Hikoko Ito
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?
HI: I was trained to be an architect and have an architectural career spanning two decades. I have always been amazed and inspired by the novel Chinese-character-motifs created by my late father Sun Chan. With focus on intersections between form, space and the Chinese script, I hope to take his legacy to another level by producing 3D creations infused with his Chinese character motifs which not only adorned the designs with meanings/connotations but also to perpetuate the affectionate tie between my late father and me.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
HI: I run a small company, a cultural enterprise which focus on the creation of artworks/designs/products that combine contemporary aesthetics with reinvented cultural (Japanese and Chinese) elements.

FS: What is "design" for you?
HI: To design something is to make various possible versions of that thing. Each version is different but all should be sophisticated in its own way.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
HI: Public furniture.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
HI: My favorite design is a public seating which I designed especially for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's establishment. It is celebratory, memorable and possesses an optimistic character that leads the city to look towards the future. Not only does the seating fulfill functional /aesthetic purposes and embrace community involvements; it also contains culture-specific elements that Hongkongers can identify with and relate to. Most of all, it conveys meaning, a much-needed message of happiness to encourage positivity in a city that repeatedly fell short on the global ranking of happiness level, and hopefully helps make Hong Kong become a more joyful city in the coming years.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
HI: an interior

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
HI: Wood and Metal

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
HI: During my travels and whenever I get to experience something new.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
HI: Besides the general functional and aesthetics aspects, I tend to focus on the details design that will enhance the user's experience.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
HI: excitements, anticipations and of course also stress.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
HI: Satisfactions

FS: What makes a design successful?
HI: I considered a design successful when the users and the clients are pleased with the results.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
HI: Its visual appeal, ease of use, overall concept and the attention to details.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
HI: to maximize the uses of and benefits from our limited resources, and to improve our quality of life.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
HI: I think the future of design is to better address major issues we face. From climate change, aging population to VR, AR and AI. and

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
HI: My last exhibition was in Paris. However, my work was last shown in Venice at the Venice Biennale (Architecture), and in Beijing and Hangzhou at the Hong Kong and Macau Visual Art Biennale. I'm planning to have my next exhibition in South Korea next year in 2020.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
HI: I draw my inspirations from daily encounters and also from my travels.

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?
HI: My designs are of modern form and contemporary aesthetics but also contain deeply-rooted cultural elements that the target users can identify with and relate to. Only through a journey of exploration that people get to experience and appreciate the details as well as the embedded meanings.

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?
HI: I currently live in Hong Kong, a city that combines eastern and western culture. In this metropolitan city, I'm able to enjoy the best of various cultures via music, movies and of course designs. My works are often infused with references drawn from my mixed (Japanese-Chinese) heritage and multi-cultural exposure.

FS: How do you work with companies?
HI: usually just be meetings and site visits when needed.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
HI: I suggest to communicate clearly to the designer about what you want. Even to show him/her examples of other designs just to point the designer in the right direction. select a designer whose style of works are in syn/compatible with your brand/company image.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
HI: 1.Get everything right at the beginning Ensure about requirements (from clients), expectations (from end users), as well as resources and time aspects before commencement of design. 2. Concept and initial designs One or more concept proposals are developed. Meeting with the maker or materials suppliers when necessary. The concepts are then presented to the client for feedback. 3. Fine-tuning and implementation of the selected scheme The selected proposal would then be further developed with more attention to construction/execution and details .

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
HI: Eames chair, custom designed work station, antique sideboard, B&O TV, Muji shelving system

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
HI: I start my day with a healthy breakfast at home, going through news and updates on design websites while eating, then dive into work. Occasionally taking a walk in the park as an after lunch break. I work till the evening then go on to prepare dinner ( I enjoy cooking). When I don't have a pressing deadline, I will tend to relax after supper, do some reading or watch a movie before I go to bed.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
HI: Always aim for quality and pay attention to details. Whenever possible, try to do something new!

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
HI: Positives: as a designer, we create things that can directly improve/impact peoples lives. Negatives: unlike an artist, who are less constrained in the sense of creative freedom, a designer has to accommodate/satisfy more requirements from various people, and often need to compromise in many ways on the final product. A design is the result of inputs from not only the designer, but also the client, and the manufacturer/maker/contractor.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
HI: form follows function, function follows (human) needs.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
HI: Observant, visualization, problem-solving, organization and communication

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
HI: SktechUp and AutoCAD.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
HI: I will spend more time on prep works before commencing the design process. To better communicate with the clients to ensure the essentials and to go the extra mile in arriving a good initial design so as to minimize the need of re-designing down the road.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
HI: It really depends on the project. I have developed good designs in less than 2 days and at times as long as a month.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
HI: Can you do both?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
HI: I greatly value the experience of working at one of the biggest design firms in Hong Kong where I have met people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise who helped me learn and grow in unexpected ways.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
HI: Shang Xia by Hermès Art Promotion Office of Hong Kong HongKong Posts Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Singapore Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency Ltd. Hong Kong Polytechnic University ISF Academy Hong Kong

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
HI: I have designed buildings, interiors, furniture and graphics (from books to stamps), but I have greatest satisfactions in creating designs for public places that can engage and interact with even more people.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
HI: While I will continue to create designs for clients, as an artist, I will keep exploring new visual dimensions for my Chinese-character-pattern artworks.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
HI: I developed all the designs by myself. However I often incorporated in them original Chinese characters patterns by my late father Sun Chan.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
HI: I'm now at the Rong Design Library in Hangzhou China for a one month artist/designer residency. I will be working with local artisan craftsmen in the local village to create a piece of design that combines contemporary aesthetics and and traditional craftsmanship.

FS: How can people contact you?
HI: I could be contacted via email ito@artwowgroup.com and hikoko@gmail.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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