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Interview with Shaun Lee

Home > Designer Interviews > Shaun Lee

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

Interview with Shaun Lee at Tuesday 5th of May 2020
Shaun Lee
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?
SL: My learning experience was to study art first and then switched to design. When doing space design, I will integrate thinking method of art with it. During the process of learning and practicing, I have been merging the two fields together to form my design work. I have been very passionate about painting and art since I was young. After coming into contact with design, I was attracted by the timeliness of design and the possibility of applying my understanding of art to the transformation and creation of the world. So my design career is actually a process of changing from my love of art to my passion for design.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SL: ADD, whose business scope covers hotel, catering, luxury house,etc., provides services of international architecture, interior, soft design and dedicates itself to providing professional and integrated design solutions for customers at home and abroad. We provide design services for more than 20 international brands under more than 10 international hotel management groups, search for possibilities between culture, art, and aesthetics, break through the inherent setup, and create complete and eternal spaces with investors and management companies.

FS: What is "design" for you?
SL: I think design is the art of problem-solving, namely how to use the environment and resources to solve current problems, including how to meet individual needs in life and uncommon or common problems in society, as well as how to use technology and art to achieve the pursuit of a better life while meeting these needs.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SL: I like hotel space design best because it is comprehensive and diverse, which contains a variety of scenes related to human experience, such as living scenes, office scenes, social scenes or sports, recreation, leisure, entertainment scenes. Design needs to switch atmosphere according to different needs under different scenes. The emotional factors of the space are plumper than other types of projects which care more about people's feelings. The space also needs more interaction with human emotions. We need to implant more emotional factors in the space to connect with people, so this is one of the reasons why I like hotel design. In addition, hotel design is the type that requires support of relatively diverse knowledge structure, and needs to combine more social resources. In this process I can learn a lot, provide more lasting industry development space, and obtain higher professionalism and professional value.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
SL: I like innovative and creative design and design that has some discussion about the future, so my job is to try some possibilities, and then let these possibilities answer the initial conditions and questions while also making directions for the future.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
SL: My first design work is not really a successful one in the true sense. It was a small temporary car showroom. In this work, I used the concept of "light" as visual expression to show sense of speed and technology of the car in the form of flow. Unfortunately the errors in the implementation of this project led to unsatisfactory design effects. This experience allowed me to understand design more comprehensively. Some of my insights at that time also enlightened the direction of future design work.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SL: For material, I prefer to try different possibilities and seek unity and drama among various material. In particular, I am curious about emerging material and technology. I think design is actually using all possible conditions in the existing material world to reassemble and recreate to achieve innovative results. So I have always been curious and sensitive about material and technology.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
SL: Creativity is a rediscovery process for me, so I think the most creative time for me is when the most sufficient research and analysis on the prerequisites is finished . I will not rely on inspiration for design. Actually I will combine multiple ideas and elements, screen and integrate after thinking and identifying, and find the answer that can better solve the problem. That answer can be called valuable creativity to me.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SL: Firstly, there is a logical and smooth thinking process aiming at solving problems in the design process. Secondly, bring in your own understanding of the world and present the views in a way that the public can understand. Thirdly, opinions can reach consensus with most people and influence the public from cultural, aesthetic, technical, and lifestyle levels.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SL: For me, design is a difficult but exciting thing, because the whole process is to constantly find and explore problems, and it is a process of finding trouble for yourself. The design process is the process of discovering as many problems as possible and fighting against them, which always challenges one difficulty after another. So this is a difficult process until you find the perfect solution to the problem and implement it. But for the same reason, you will also have a great sense of accomplishment and happiness when finally facing this successful work.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SL: Creation from scratch will bring me a great sense of satisfaction. As a creator, this is a very touching moment. At the same time, as an envisioner, some regrets brought by unfulfilled wishes are often accompanied.

FS: What makes a design successful?
SL: Unique positioning, precise budget control, reasonable planning and arrangement, etc. I think the success of a design requires not only a good designer or a good idea, but also the integration of more excellent social resources, the cooperation of different professional teams, reasonable plan and efficient execution in each link.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SL: Firstly this design must be able to accomplish all the goals you set before, and solve all the questions you raised before. Secondly the design should have a certain forward-looking outlook, that is, whether there is an innovative component and whether the innovation has a positive value. Thirdly, there must be a higher artistic and aesthetic value.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SL: A very important purpose for designers is to create a better environment for human and the world. Seeking for the answer to this question is originally one of the designers' work. The process of creating and generating new things is a reorganization of the material world, so it will definitely use the resources of this material world. To consider such problems as whether the use of these resources is reasonable, whether the iteration of the generated new environment to the old one is gradual and orderly, the costs and benefits of manufacturing and retrofitting are the natural responsibilities of designers.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SL: For design practitioners, the future development of design industry has always been a thing that we need to pay attention, think about, and also make predictions. Design is a practical subject, which thinks through with the integration of all aspects of philosophy, art, technology, technology, economy, society, etc.and gives specific solutions for lifestyle or living environment. Therefore, with the development of science and technology, new technologies and new forms of social organization will generate new philosophical and artistic views to adapt to their development, and these will always be in the process of continuous iteration. Therefore, the design should do responsive solutions based on different conditions to deal with problems of different periods. I think the next phase of the design is to deal with the problem of latitude incompatibility between the virtual environment using data as the carrier and the human physiological genes and ideological civilization inertia. How to transit and what kind of environment should be created to adapt to the new living conditions is the scope of designers to think carefully.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
SL: The most recent exhibition was in Tianjin, China, and it was a showcase of winning works for this award. The next exhibition will be in Germany and will be exhibited in Berlin together with some excellent designers.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
SL: I really like art works, such as painting, installation art, photography, etc. So many of my design inspirations come from some appreciation and understanding of art works. Insights brought by scenes or things, feelings brought by emotions, and other people ’s thoughts learned from reading are all ways to nourish my creativity.

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?
SL: My design style is an artistic expression of emotional tension in an orderly space. My passion for architecture and art prompts me to blend space with art. And I was good at transforming physical environment into a sensory experience, establishing emotional connections between people, space, and material. Be curious about each project, find possibilities between culture, art, and aesthetics, break through the inherent setup, and create a complete and eternal space.

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?
SL: I live in China, and Chinese culture has a great influence on my design. This cultural foundation will subtly influence my personality, perspective of thinking about problems, and way of life, etc., which will affect my thinking and my design. Now China represents a huge market and more opportunities, whose scale and speed brings more possibilities and inclusiveness. This high-speed environment is both a test field and a Shura field for designers. Market opportunities and lost crises co-exist. "This is the best era and the worst."

FS: How do you work with companies?
SL: We are commissioned by hotel investors to carry out the design, and we collaborate with hotel investors and hotel brand management companies to discuss project positioning and design goals. The three parties responds to consumer demands from different angles, and finally carries them in the form of space.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
SL: I think this choice is mutual. The company's choice of designers and the designer's choice of companies must find common ground, pursue common values and common interests, and reach consensus on the judgment of market and future environment. The resonance of aesthetics and art in China is also one of the important conditions for successful cooperation. In addition, the company should pay attention to the forward-looking of designers, not only consider the current market demand, but also have an accurate judgment on the future.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
SL: Firstly we need to find problems, and then research and discover more problems. Secondly we should use smart methods in a targeted way, and then propose as many possibilities as possible. Among these possibilities, find the optimal solution to solve the design problems put forward before, and then use an experimental and practicing process to carry out your ideas. Finally, this idea will be verified.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
SL: Ask questions and solve them.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
SL: "All the wonderful things come from sufficient accumulation." The suggestion for young designers is to stick to their love. Persevering in what you love is a happy thing. Don't rush and pursue fame and fortune. Put more time and energy into the things you love. There is no shortcut.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
SL: A designer's sufficient attention to aesthetics, style or taste helps him gain a high sense of superiority in these aspects, which is an advantage in a way. However, excessive concentration on a part may result in incomprehensive judgment on things or oneself. Therefore, most of the time designers need to have a higher and more comprehensive perspective, and expand the scope of design to a wider one.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
SL: More possibilities can lead to a better answer. I think there is no right answer to design. Design is not a mathematical formula. What we are looking for is not the only answer, but a better answer.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
SL: The ability to observe details, the ability to think logically, and the ability to grasp sensory feelings.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
SL: Paper and pen are the best tools to express thinking and verify ideas.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SL: Design is a process of seeking something better. If there is no time limit, the pursuit of good design is endless. Therefore, I need to set a specific time limit and tasks to be completed. I will make a reasonable plan before doing everything, and then start to implement the work.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
SL: I am engaged in hotel design and the design conditions will be very different between each project, so the design time required will also be quite different. It depends on so many aspects like different requirements, the volume, complexity, obstacles of the project, politics and economy, so the design cycle varies from three months to three years.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
SL: Can it be better?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
SL: I think the jobs full of difficulty and challenge are more important work experiences for me because it will stimulate your potential and help you find a better self.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
SL: My clients are hotel investors, real estate developers and hotel management companies.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
SL: My favorite work is one that can create new value and define new categories because such work can bring a new perspective and open up another world.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
SL: What is going on now is the exploration and research on the future possibilities of urban hotels and living spaces. The plan is to let this subject be verified in future projects, adjust our research strategies and directions and form a refined design theory to guide future design work through the feedback of the market and users.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SL: Since our project type determines that the project requires the cooperation of more than one team to complete, we need the cooperation of multiple departments, teams and social groups. At the same time, we should maintain the complete independence of design creative thinking, and implement design thinking to all aspects of the partner through multiple professional collaborations.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
SL: The project we are designing is a very challenging and interesting one. It’s a boutique hotel located in Xi’an, China, the capital city of the Tang Dynasty which was called Chang’an City at that time, close to the imperial city wall. The historical response to Chang'an City and response to special historical sites of ancient city walls are challenges in this project, and these challenges will also be the characteristics in hotel design. Combining the most brilliant art and culture in traditional Chinese culture with contemporary needs, it will be a work we are looking forward to.

FS: How can people contact you?
SL: My personal phone is +86 18666081957. You can also find me through my company's contact information. My company’s address is Floor 8, G1 Building, Shigangguoji Building,Xingangdong Road,Haizhu District,Guangzhou City. E-mail is info@adddesign.com.cn.In addition, for business inquiry, please contact Mr Chen at +86 13560175543. For media cooperation, please contact Miss Zheng at +86 18824101397.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
SL: No more things to cover. Thank you.


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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