Xuefeng Bi has been working in the field of graphic design for many years. Aside from taking on commercial commissions, he is also devoted to researching new design concepts. He guest lectures at numerous art schools, and promotes graphic design and art internationally as an exhibition organizer. We ask Bi what Chinese designers should take into consideration from a graphic design perspective.
Bi stresses that a designer must adapt his or her strategy to suit different markets and audiences. From an information transmission perspective, the difference between a domestic market and the international market is the choice of language. Using Chinese characters in the Chinese market will increase the clarity and accuracy of the message, which means that this message will be clearer for the intended audience. When designing, in terms of culture, Bi takes not only the function but also the aesthetics of a product or project into account. Therefore, the taboos, customs, and preferences of a region are all important factors.
As an example, he refers to a packaging project he undertook for a traditional pastry brand from Shenzhen, China. He integrated Shenzhen’s local place names, stories, and customs into the package design to convey the one-hundred-year-old history of the traditional pastry. Because of this dedication to local details, the packaging is not just packaging: it also shows another side of this young city that people are not so familiar with. In this way, the history and memory of this city is conveyed to people. “Being either internationalized or localized does not just mean following customers’ opinions, but it also depends on the position of the product in the market; we use this as a guide, too,” he explains.
As a Chinese designer who has lived in China his entire life, Bi has witnessed the growth of the Chinese design industry first hand, as well as the growth and development of the country’s consumer market. In the past 30 years, Chinese people were absorbing professional knowledge and ethics from the West. Now that this learning period is coming to an end, Chinese designers need to start to develop their own style. While Chinese design and consumer awareness still significantly lags behind that of markets in the West, China is nonetheless home to some outstanding designers who have an innate understanding of their culture. When Chinese design enters the international market, designers need to change their language if they want to create products that influence people’s lives. Today’s Chinese designers need to think further ahead–three, five years, maybe even more–because “design is not just about suiting the needs of the client, it should also influence the lifestyle of the user,” Bi explains. Today’s designers should have a solid working knowledge of the design process, but they also need to think about the relationship between materials, the environment, and the recycling of resources.
About Bi Xuefeng
Renowned Chinese graphic designer Bi Xuefeng graduated from the China Academy of Art, where today he works as a graduate student tutor. He is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) and the Shenzhen Graphic Design Association (SGDA). He has won over 100 domestic and international awards. In 1996, he was a recipient of a Golden Award and Jury Award at the Graphic Design China exhibition, which is the pinnacle of achievement in Chinese graphic design. He was later honored multiple times in international competitions including the International Poster Biennale in Warsaw, the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno, and the International Poster Triennial in Toyama, to list a few. In 1998, he founded the OCT–LOFT Creative Group, and has since been commissioned by leading Chinese and global enterprises, as well as government institutions, including Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Holding Company, China Resources, and the Ministry of Culture in Shenzhen.