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Interview with Hsu-Hung Huang

Home > Designer Interviews > Hsu-Hung Huang

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Hsu-Hung Huang (HH) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Hsu-Hung Huang by clicking here.

Interview with Hsu-Hung Huang at Sunday 22nd of May 2022
Hsu-Hung Huang
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?
HH: I am an interior and product designer, with ten years of commercial and residential design experience and a Master of Arts (Merit) in Product & Furniture Design from Kingston University in London, England. I hope to re-build a bridge for dialogue between the world and Taiwan’s culture through contemporary designs.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
HH: I founded my studio, Hsu Hung Huang Design Lab, which aims to build a design practice that provided practical solutions that integrated cultural context and warmth aesthetics. The mission of the studio is to provide customers with professional services including interior design, product design, aesthetic planning, and construction management. In addition, we consider each client's needs by using logical approaches and keen analysis. As a result, the best elegant design and lifestyle will be discovered and offered to our clients. We take pleasure in establishing a combination of trendsetting yet enduring design, resulting in interiors that are both contemporary and timeless.

FS: What is "design" for you?
HH: My manifesto is that to be great is to be simple.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
HH: I have always been interested in furniture research. I feel that designing furniture is similar to conducting experiments on human behaviour. Here, certain furniture designs have the ability to change the mood of a room by influencing the feelings of those inside the same space. Having experienced designing in various countries around Asia, and having researched the related cultures, I believe that furniture and interior design can coexist together in a harmonious way. In this respect, furniture profoundly influences behaviour in an environment.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
HH: I quite appreciate the design works of Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French architect. In design contributions, Le Corbusier was well-known for his architectural theory and style which was modernism, or the international style. For instance, in Notre Dame du Haut, he combined classic aesthetics with a modern design including material and building construction techniques. According to Towards a New Architecture (1923), Le Corbusier believed that simple form was the most beautiful form and simple type was expressed by arranging pure order. Moreover, he did not support the complicated and additional decoration in the design. That is to say, utilizing the simple principle allows designers to develop elegant design works. This design philosophy appeals to me significantly.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
HH: To begin, I usually plan to conduct a large number of studies on company culture to better understand the brand appeal. I attempt to find and figure out the clients' potential problems while also expressing my viewpoints. Following that, distinctive and original design experiments that are more adventurous than past aesthetics would be created. I believe that the final result would be more alive and relevant to contemporary times.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
HH: In my furniture works, I prefer to use woods such as oak, walnut, or cherry. These pieces of wood can be painted or stained and utilized as a centre piece or framework. The surface and texture of wood are also quite appealing.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
HH: That thinking through making is my favourite motto. I typically feel creative when I have a strong desire to develop or modify anything but don't have a certain conclusion to do it in the beginning. To be more precise, I would try to arrange and combine various methods or conduct a great number of experiments then inspiration appears seemingly out of nowhere.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
HH: As a designer, I realized that designing not only requires sensitivity to beauty but the consideration of the strategies behind using aesthetics. When I incorporated these two aspects into the creative process, I was able to solve my clients’ problems efficiently while also reflecting on my own design philosophy.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
HH: In certain creative activities, sometimes, I am forced to face stress from the deadline. To explain, designers should have plenty of creatives and ideas in the design process and experience different challenges. Solving various problems consumes a great deal of time and is usually unpredictable. However, the pressure may be a benefit for designers. It would push someone toward creating more potential and better outcomes and stimulate their abilities.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
HH: To me, I usually feel self-fulfilled and joyful in my mind when I finished a good design. It means that I have balanced the demands of both clients and my design philosophy.

FS: What makes a design successful?
HH: Success, to my mind, involves having a loving heart and a passion for designers’ work. I strongly feel that is fantastic, and nothing comes close.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
HH: In my perspective, I tend to assess a design work utilizing created factors including aesthetics, design philosophy, practicality and symbolism. Particularly, aesthetics is my significant consideration for the first impression of design work. To be more precise, I believe that a good design should appeal to users by having a pleasing look firstly. After that, people would be interested in the object or space and try to understand what it is.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
HH: The responsibility depends on the attitude of a designer, I think. Also, I support that a designer should treat and solve social and environmental issues around our world positively. They would improve these problems and attempt to change this society better rather than make a lot of fads. Take Francis Kéré, a Burkina Faso architect as a good example. He observes the environment and culture of Africa and utilizes limited local materials to build many outstanding architectures. Hence, He is honoured for his inventive works, which are frequently harmonious and sustainable in nature.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
HH: I predict that an increasing number of global design concepts and techniques would be integrated with local cultures. To explain, with the introduction of globalization, mass produced furniture became popular; however, as people’s standard of living has improved, they seek more unique and better-quality products. They want the style and quality of the past and are more interested in local style designs. Some people have also become nostalgic about the times before the rapid growth of society. For instance, the historical city aesthetics in my hometown of Tainan includes architecture and furniture, instigating the creation of an atmosphere that that yearns for the past. However, we live in a contemporary society and obviously there are differences between lifestyles of the past and current behavior, which will affect the design and functionality of the product. Hence, from this background, I also get some design inspiration. That is to say, I hope to design furniture that not only has cost and aesthetic considerations, but will be created to fit into the urbanized, hot and humid, semi-tropical atmosphere in Taiwan.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
HH: In 2020, my last exhibition, Taiwan wood in the house, was held at the national Taiwan science education centre. At that time, I attempted to utilize Taiwan domestic timber to make my furniture and presented the third version of the Tao rocking chair there with other wood crafters and their works. The video link of the exhibition activity shows here below. On the other hand, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not still have a new plan for my next exhibition. Therefore, I also hope that people and our government can overcome this problem as soon as possible. Also, the new project for the exhibition would be planned and shown after this pandemic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g74HkllT_dM

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
HH: I have invested my spare time in intense research into Taiwan’s culture in order to integrate traditional crafts with modern furniture in Taiwan. I can be found in libraries nationwide scouring rare texts and photo books about Taiwanese traditional aesthetics and unique needs to bring into contemporary furniture design.

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?
HH: My works demonstrate less of an iconic style and more of a search for relevant new viewpoints on different design issues, whether on customized products or spatial projects of a certain brand.

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?
HH: Taiwan is a picturesque and mountainous island on the Pacific Ocean and it demonstrates tremendous diversity in its cultural heritage. However, currently, in Taiwan, certain consumers emulate global trends and fads with no thought to how it matches their lives. As a result, many opportunities to communicate Taiwan’s unique marine culture and spirit are being lost. Having said that, to preserve this precious and traditional culture, I often attempt to embed spiritual and societal knowledge and practices into material design.

FS: How do you work with companies?
HH: We respect each other and exchange different creativities and ideas. Also, I would offer plenty of professional knowledge or personal viewpoints to solve some design issues and my cooperators usually give me feedback positively. I believe that is a good interaction.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
HH: I suggest that companies should choose a good designer who is honest and self-disciplined. I feel these characters are important virtues. From their background, these factors influence designers to do appropriate things and make correct decisions. Furthermore, if designers were honest and self-disciplined, supervisors or cooperators could communicate with them more effectively based on trust. Otherwise, I firmly believe that some job skills could be cultivated and shaped but it is not easy to change these personalities.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
HH: As I mentioned before, thinking through making is my favourite motto. Furthermore, I would try to arrange and combine multiple methodologies or run a large number of studies. For example, I usually use this effective strategy to coordinate the fabrication of various models or samples, as well as the creation of design drawings and specification sheets from plenty of sketches and prototypes. Therefore, it can be seen clearly that creative ideas appear seemingly out of nowhere.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
HH: Chair, Table, Bookshelf, Cabinet and Lamp

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
HH: I am not only a designer but a design educator at a university. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work style shows a significant change. Essentially, remote work is the primary work. Every day, I usually read before breakfast, and then I begin my busy workday online and cooperate with coworkers or clients from oversea. Until lunch, take a short break. Then, I will keep working including computer work, online classes, and online meetings in the afternoon. Sometimes, certain meetings must be held outside. After I get off work, I will have some personal rest time. I usually do some exercise and get together with my family.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
HH: A-Li, a brilliant craftsman and designer are in charge of "ALI Studio". He inherits traditional joinery techniques and attempts to combine contemporary digital manufacture with his creation. He often turns recycled and various wood into a new appearance. Recently, he connects people on the land with his artworks; also, he conveys the wooden aesthetics to people by participating in local creative markets.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
HH: In my experience, a designer would be frequently under pressure because of diverse factors like deadlines, interpersonal relationships and mental conditions. Fortunately, being a designer also can bring a great number of advantages. For example, designers would be able to perform their creativities and achieve self-fulfilled in their works. Also, through their professional experience, creative workers would acquire self-esteem and belonging. I feel that these benefits always on be the bright side.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
HH: Less is more. This design philosophy appeals to me significantly. I did not support the complicated and additional decoration in the design. That is to say, utilizing the simple principle allows me to develop elegant design works. Hence, I often regard this principle as an important reference and use it to examine all design works.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
HH: From my point of view, the most important design skill is critical thinking. Critical thinking may help designers change their perspective to enhance the approach they think about problems or circumstances. Furthermore, utilizing this way will have a beneficial and positive effect on their decisions and viewpoints.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
HH: The colour chart is my familiar tool during design. It assists me to define architecture, interior space colour and certain product surfaces. Especially, it is my favourite brand that Pantone Colour chart which has various colours including metal, pastel and neons and so on. Each Pantone colour has a unique code that designers and manufacturers may use to assure colour uniformity.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
HH: In my experience, there are too many unpredictable factors in design development. Hence, leaving enough buffer time is necessary. Good designers manage time accurately to save time and make good use of tools like applications, digital calendars and traditional notes. These methods would remind designers to take every moment to perform the current task correctly.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
HH: It depends on a different scales' project and budget. Sometimes, for small-scale projects such as furniture or product design, I would spend a few months developing my design concept, modelling and drawings. Otherwise, some large-scale or high budget programs like the design of certain luxury brands and high-quality artworks will take a long time when would take one or two years.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
HH: That is fantastic. How did you figure out this creative? At the same time, I am proud of my work. Also, I firmly believe the only way is that a good designer should be diligent and design with heart.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
HH: In my opinion, a professional designer should be expressing his or her viewpoint precisely and possess flexible thinking. That is to say, it is also necessary to change different mentalities to face various works or environments. Moreover, a good designer should simulate putting themselves in a different position and think in empathy for clients or coworkers. Hence, they can understand and achieve effective communication between their respective needs of both.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
HH: Having experienced designing for all sorts of distinct East Asian nations, and made extensive research on various cultures. I have contributed to prominent interior and product design companies with major clients including D&G, Hyatt Hotel, and JAGEGIA. After I established my studio, I began to offer professional service to my clients such as the government, Asian educational organizations, and luxury brands.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
HH: I prefer to perform culture-related projects. These projects allow me to do some research on unknown cultures or understand certain culture-felid deeply. The main reason is that I am constantly fascinated by historical stories and unique cultural contexts.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
HH: Regarding my future programs, I hope to concentrate on culture-related issues and integrate the Taiwanese aesthetic with contemporary design skills such as 3D modelling and digital manufacturing. To explain, Furniture Design in Taiwan usually follows products that were made abroad, with very few changes are originality or feelings of anything local. However, I plan to bring more of Taiwan’s iconic imagery into my project. That is to say, I hope that the design reflects not just the aesthetics of the people of Taiwan but also our heritage and background.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
HH: It depends on a different project of scales. In certain small-scale projects like furniture design or interior design, firstly, I will come up with my design concepts and develop main design drawings for my clients. After several times of meetings, some construction vendors or manufacturers would join in this project and discuss more practical details. On the other hand, for large-scale projects such as architecture design or landscape design, some coworkers will organize the plan and distribute different missions from the main item in the beginning. Furthermore, we cooperate and complete the project together.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
HH: In the future, I plan to extend the series of Tao rocking chairs and hoped to cooperate with some residents of the indigenous community and produce some design works in a small number of diversified ways. Through production cooperation, technology transfer, etc., aesthetic value and product quality can be improved. Also, expanding the consumer market of contemporary indigenous products and furniture is quite potential.

FS: How can people contact you?
HH: Please reach me by email at HsuHungxSean@gmail.com

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
HH: Many thanks, that’s all I have to say.


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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