As the executive manager of LOE Design and senior lecturer in the Industrial Design Department of the College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, Wen Qing Yang’s designs are always somewhat “experimental.” In 2013, during a meeting in Shanghai, Yang and the executive manager of ECCO Design, Eric Chen, proposed a topic of discussion: How does one summarize an exclusively huaren (ethnic Chinese) design principle according to huaren life habits and ways of thinking?
Wen Qing Yang believes huaren design is exclusive to the lifestyle and line of thought of huaren. No deliberate emphases and rules are required to form this so-called huaren style of design. After undergoing a series of design “experiments” that incorporate market demands–experiments in which designers integrate various characteristics of the huaren market, a “group awareness” of design expression naturally emerges. The exclusive huaren aesthetic, their preferences in material, and their cohesive lines of thought all constitute the “huaren style of design.”
When comparing the design style of different countries, it is clear that a country’s style comes from the summarization of the characteristics of many various styles. Take, for example, the aesthetics of Japan and Germany. The Japanese aesthetic is partial to silence–silence is beauty. Their attitude towards all living creatures is to accept and to stabilize. As for Germany, the characteristics of the people and the nation speak of rigor. German people discipline themselves with the rigorous attitude of science and expect others to do the same. Their design also adheres to the scientific attitudes of strictness, pragmatism, and sound construction. The Chinese aesthetic prefers the spiritual, the vivid, and the mellow; Chinese design technique is more elaborate. Chinese designers stress the construction of concepts relating to virtuality and reality. Thus, the way different countries perceive beauty forms their distinctive aesthetic philosophies. Furthermore, their use of unique natural materials magnifies and forms their individual aesthetic.
Huaren design inherits the essence of the huaren aesthetic, traditional huaren materials, and the huaren line of thought. In collaboration with the renowned bicycle brand, Forever Bicycles, Yang helped design and produce a work that is modernized and mass-producible, specific to the huaren market, and full of the sincerity and logic of huaren design: “The Bamboo Bikes, Qing Mei and Zhu Ma.”
When discussing whether huaren design and its market will be recognized by the world, Yang says, “We are very concerned with the development of our country. Only through financial development will our culture’s ‘soft power’ be able to grow, be exported, and become recognized. It would be unfair to compare the present huaren design with that of other countries. Our design industry is still in its developing stage. If the industry cannot elevate itself holistically and efficiently, our design can hardly develop or become recognized. Design has always played the role of ‘propelling’ industry. Design has helped corporations strengthen their competitiveness and build bridges to connect to their users. However, concerning the innovation and transformation of products, the intrinsic value lies in technique.”
About Wen Qing Yang
Yang graduated from the Industrial Design Department of Tongji University and obtained his master’s degree in design (specializing in interaction design) at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Sweden. Yang is currently a senior lecturer in the Industrial Design Department of the College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai. Yang is dedicated to his research into the integrated design of brand, market, and product systems. He has also worked as a consultant for international corporations such as Panasonic, SC Johnson, and 3M; additionally, he has collaborated with various Chinese corporations such as Huawei, Haier, and Midea on product design and product development. Yang has amassed many national and international design awards. He was a juror for the iF Design Award China and is presently vice-president of the Shanghai Industrial Design Association. In 2014, “The Bamboo Bikes, Qing Mei and Zhu Ma”, a project he helped design, was awarded a Design Mark by the Golden Pin Design Award.