More on Gao Yiqiang

On May 10, 2012 by Design China

We stum­bled upon Gao Yiqiang late last year, and were intrigued by his play­ful fur­ni­ture and prod­uct series. Here, we talk to him about his rela­tion­ship to design, cur­rent projects and how scary aes­thet­ics really are.

How do you view your rela­tion­ship with design?

On a larger scale, I con­sider myself as an indus­trial designer where I have to take man­u­fac­ture and cost into con­sid­er­a­tion. On a smaller scope, I am a prod­uct designer that is always exper­i­ment­ing and play­ing with new designs. Ulti­mately, good indus­trial and prod­uct design should inspire feel­ings in the user – mem­o­ries and/or some­thing that peo­ple iden­tify and con­nect with. If a con­sumer echoes with a prod­uct, then this is suc­cess­ful design.

How do you feel about indus­trial design in China?

There is no soil for the indus­try to develop here because there is very lit­tle aware­ness across our soci­ety. Right now, China is mainly con­cerned with pro­duc­tion, but there are no reg­u­la­tions or sys­tems. This is chang­ing now, but the process is slow. It all comes down to edu­ca­tion in the end, but this is another prob­lem: there are more than 600 cre­ative insti­tu­tions across China, but they are very basic or close-minded. Most cur­ricu­lums are too the­o­ret­i­cal and “teach” via design from abroad (rather than by method). This impo­si­tion of a West­ern aes­thetic may not nec­es­sar­ily be the best way to teach our future generations.

Tell us about some of your projects.

I like to focus on the psy­chol­ogy behind a piece of design rather than aes­thet­ics. Aes­thet­ics are fright­en­ing! They are too subjective.

I have a few projects that focus on con­nec­tiv­ity, for exam­ple, my Lego-like fur­ni­ture. I’ve also looked into Ming-style chairs that inte­grate cityscapes into the back­rest. I’ve made pro­to­types of these in plas­tic at the moment, but I am now look­ing at exper­i­ment­ing with wood. More recently, I devel­oped a wardrobe inspired by the aba­cus, which sep­a­rates clothes more eas­ily. I am now think­ing of colour cod­ing the sys­tem. Crack­ing, on the other hand, is a fur­ni­ture series that was inspired by cracked glaze on pottery.

My most recent project is a light that fea­tures peb­bles. Mov­ing the peb­bles changes the inten­sity of the light. The stones are also translu­cent and reflect the light at dif­fer­ent angles.

How did you develop an inter­est in con­nec­tiv­ity as a con­cept?

Ini­tially, I wanted to cre­ate multi-functional prod­ucts. Cre­at­ing prod­ucts that con­nect and dis­con­nect with one another is a way to accom­plish this. Sec­ondly, this method of pro­duc­ing small parts is low cost and can help small fac­to­ries in China to grow. I want to be more prac­ti­cal this way.

What does the future hold?

I am work­ing on an exhi­bi­tion of my teacher’s works now, as well as focus­ing on what to sell in my store (which is located close to The For­bid­den City). I am also work­ing on apothecary-style fur­ni­ture where each draw is labelled as an emo­tion — sell­ing via emo­tion, in a sense. I have an exhi­bi­tion of my own tak­ing place in Dalian in late June and, finally, I am look­ing to develop more furniture.

Thanks to Lynn Zhang for translating.

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