With over 20 years of international design experience, Jamy Yang is truly dedicated to design, so much so that he established the first private industrial design museum in China. In this article, Yang shares his thoughts on how China might gain its place on the design world stage.
Western consumers’ understanding of good aesthetics and product design matured after the Industrial Revolution. Comparatively, Chinese consumers have a less standardized definition for what makes a good product. As a result, the Chinese market is more receptive to new products and concepts than the Western markets. Designers must think and judge from the perspective of an observer, a user, a producer, and an owner of a product, as well as a member of the society in which the product will be sold. When designing for different groups of people, the perspective needs to change.
The direction a design takes is different across different product categories. For example, loungewear is a mature product market and is influenced greatly by regional aesthetic preferences. While new technology and electronic products are more influenced by international preferences, products like loungewear are influenced by the preferences in the particular region into which they are sold. This trend is related to how many products are sold in the market. For example, the number of units of an iPhone sold internationally would far outweigh the number of items of a particular line of loungewear in a regional market.
From a brand perspective, when international brands select the designers they collaborate with, they often consider the style of the designer and whether or not that style suits the image of the brand. Conversely, if you are designing a product for housewives living in a third-tier city in China, you should not design a product with aesthetics that would appeal to the German consumer market because that product will not fulfil the needs and desires of those particular Chinese consumers. Designers must create the most suitable design for a particular market, instead of the coolest design created by a designer for a designer.
“When we were designing the airline cabin interiors for Boeing, we had to consider the many first-time and elderly customers in China, who have vastly different needs to that of American customers,” Yang explains. “When a Chinese person travels to another city, they will often purchase large quantities of local souvenirs. Taking this into consideration, we adjusted many things in the interior design of the cabin–the ergonomics, the size of the luggage hold, even the seat cover fabric. Of course, we still took practicality into consideration; an airplane is a means of public transportation after all. When designing the Bamboo Tea Set for Royal Selangor, in order to understand how to best suit the aesthetic concerns and the lifestyle of modern Chinese people, I needed to research the nationalism and identity of Chinese people and consider how I might best express my findings in the design.” Designs for the Chinese market do not have to look Chinese. Chinese people are first and foremost people, and we should design whatever is most suitable for people.
About Jamy Yang
Renowned Chinese industrial designer Jamy Yang founded YANG DESIGN and YDC in 2005. He earned a Masters of Industrial Design in Germany, and once worked in the design department of Siemens in Munich. He established YANG DESIGN MUSEUM in 2013. Yang, who considers “creating the perfect user experience” to be his design philosophy, has been recognized in over 60 international design awards including Red Dot Award and iF Awards (Germany), Good Design Award (Japan), and IDEA (USA). He has worked with numerous leading global brands.