Simon Yan，美国工业设计师协会成员，出生于香港，1988年毕业于美国纽约普拉特学院，而后在美国多家知名设计公司担任高级工业设计师、项目经理等，2001年在美国创立属于自己的工作室Bluemap Design。在其设计生涯中，Yan曾收获多项知名设计大奖，包括iF、红点、PDC金奖等，其设计作品也曾先后发表在纽约时报、华尔街日报、时代杂志、iF设计年鉴等各大书刊、报纸、国际杂志中。Yan设计风格干净、现代、永恒，追求形式和功能之间的平衡，注重用户的身体与情感之间的关联性。
You were born in Hong Kong, why do you want to go abroad for development?
1984, I decided to leave Hong Kong and go to New York, USA to study art and design at Pratt Institute. Adapting myself to a brand-new country is not an easy thing, but I can’t stand confining in a space I accustom to, and I need to see more. Coming from an Asian style of education which emphasis on repetitive study and practice, it leaves very little room for imagination and reflection on yourself. I remembered, my first home assignment of drawing class at Pratt was to draw a still life of our choice. I was excited and spent hours working on a highly detailed and super realistic drawing. I was so proud of it thinking that no doubt it is the best drawing I have ever done. When it came to the critique, I was shocked that my professor thought my drawing lack spirit and is too timid. He pointed to my classmate’s drawing next to me which I thought was not that good at the time. He said, “this is a great drawing, it has energy and life” I was puzzled and lost for a while. It took me some time to understand what he was talking about. I ended up finishing on top of that class. The education at Pratt opens up my mind and allows me to see thing differently ever since. I would have never able to do that if I didn’t go aboard.
NYC Street Lights
You had worked in several top-ranked design studios, why do you want to start your own practice later?
It is all about getting out of the comfort zone and challenge yourself. In 2001, I was design director at a well-known design agency in New York managing their industrial and graphics departments. I was in a comfortable situation where life seems to be pretty easy. The projects I was doing were good but far less than what I think I could do. With many years of experience in the field, I think it is time to venture out and do it on my own. I want to do it the way I want. Bluemap Design was born in November 2001. Seventeen years later, we are still doing amazing works our designs won major international awards, and were acknowledged by our pierces, more importantly, our clients are thrill with the successful products. I trusted my intuition, design sense and it proved that I made the right decision. People tend to lose perspective when in a comfort zone. Sometimes it is good to create an uneasy situation for yourself. Putting yourself on edge, limit your option and challenge yourself. It will bring new insight and possibilities.
Please introduce something about Bluemap Design and its strategic positions。
Bluemap Design is an award-winning industrial design firm in New York City USA, specializing in consumer electronics, office products, housewares, structural and graphic packaging, and branding。 Our approach emphasizes the vital importance of a user’s experience with a product, and we strive to determine the best solutions for our clients’ product development needs。 With many years of experience and international recognition, our designers have established a comprehensive design process that has resulted in many successful designs。
You mentioned that nature is one of your source of inspiration, what enlightenment nature has brought to your design? Please give us an example。
Nature tends to make things look effortless. For example, you see a smooth pebble in the river. It is beautiful, yet no one purposely makes it. It was a result of years of polishing with sand and water by nature. I like design that is effortless, not forced, and design solution that is obvious yet no one has think of before.
When designing the TiO kitchen tools, we apply the same effortless design thinking to the project. I take advantage of the metal stamping and forming process. The handle area is stamped with slots to allow the material to expand during the forming process to create a contour shape that fit the hand perfectly. The grooves provide a tactile grip that is secure and comfortable to hold as well as dissipating the heat to keep the handle cool. We allow the material to form naturally, not forced into some wild shape that is not meant to be. All the elements, form and function work seamlessly. It is an effortless design inspired by nature.
TiO kitchen tools
In your eyes, what is timeless design?
对我来说,永恒的设计是形式、功能、颜色、比例和比例的平衡,这些设计元素的完美结合创造了一个永恒的设计,它不受文化、时间或地点的限制。一个永恒的设计可以在几千年前,也可以在今天,它可以由当地的部落工匠或著名的设计师制作,它可以来自远东,也可以来自西方。工业设计师迪特尔·拉姆斯(Dieter Rams)和建筑师路易斯·卡恩(Louis Kahn)的作品是永恒设计的典范。
To me, timeless design is a balance of form, function, color, scale, and proportion。 It is a magic combination of the perfect level of these design elements that give birth to a timeless design。 It is not bound by cultures, time, or places。 A timeless design can be made thousands of years ago or today。 It could be made by a native tribal craftsman or a famous designer。 It can be from the far east or the west。 Good examples of timeless design are the work of industrial designer Dieter Rams and Architect Louis Kahn。
No.3 The design style of Yan
How do you get your design to achieve a classic balance between form and function ?
You are walking on a fine line balancing form and function。 If you focus too much on the form it might be overdone, on the other hand, too emphasis on the functionality, it might make something too utilitarian。 Many designers focus on aesthetics (form) first and let the engineer figure out how it works (function)。 The danger is that the engineer might change the designer’s intent to fit the engineering requirement。 In the end, you might not recognize your own design。 I like to approach a problem from many angles, try to find an equilibrium between form and function。 Sometimes even from inside out。 Knowing how it works (function) ultimately will help you achieve the look (form) you want。
For example, on the TYPO keyboard for iPad Air project. There are many iPad keyboard products on the market. Most of them have one or few fixed viewing angles. None of them has a detachable keyboard. We realized that people want to adjust the viewing angle freely for typing during our research. The only way to achieve a free pivoting movement is to design it from the inside out. So we collaborated with a world renounce hinge manufacturer to develop a proprietary micro-friction hinge. It is super small but has the torque value that could hold up the iPad securely at any angles. I did not start to design the aesthetics of the product right away. Instead solve the mechanical problem first, and then the form falls into place. It is essential to know where to start and when to stop when juggling form and function.
Typo Keyboard for iPad Air
What is the key of design in order for the work to meet the emotional needs of the users?
The key to the design is to make a connection with the customers. Something that the users can relate to emotionally. The link could be many things. It could be a color, a shape, a sound, or even a smell. It could be obvious or subtle. I pay attention to the way people live and how they interact with each other and products. This help me make connection with people when designing products and packaging.
When designing the Kodak V-570 digital camera, we want to touch the customers on a deeper level. We want people to fall in love with the camera. While all the cameras have the lens off to one side of the body, we choose to position the lens in the center of the camera. We live in a symmetric world. Symmetry represents beauty and order. It is universal regardless your age, gender or, nationality. Therefore, it is natural that people subconscious gravitate toward things that are symmetrical. When you see the camera, you are instantly attracted by it and have to hold it in your hand. The balance layout didn’t just look different it connects with customers emotionally.
Kodak EasyShare V570 Dual Lens Digital Camera
In what ways do you generally use to understand the customer's needs and then communicate the product concept to the final consumers?
During the research phase of the project, we use many methods such as interviews, product matrix mapping, user scenario development, exploratory brainstorm session, competitive products review, market study, trend study, store audit, and user observation, etc。 to learn and understand what customers want。
A lot of time these collected data are in the form of voice recording, video clips, notes, numbers, charts, pictures, etc. Making the connection of these seemingly unrelated and abstract data is a big task. The important thing is to analyze and organize this information and turn them into meaningful insight. These insights allow us to establish guidelines which aid the concept creation. As you can see, we started by collecting data, analyze and organize them, turn them into useful insight and help guide the concepts and eventually turn into the final product.
Clean and intuitive are the main styles of your packaging design, what is the strategy this packaging style can bring?
It brings clarity and connection. Consumers have very short time span to choose from a large number of products in the store. While a lot of packaging design emphasis on a bold and loud graphic. Visually clean packaging design will make your product stand out more. A unique packaging structure design could invite the consumer to pick up the product intuitively.
RING Video Doorbell Packaging
What do you think of the design level in Western Countries? And what can we learn from it?
For example, the US is a rather young country and don’t have too much baggage and legacy. It is in her DNA to cherish exploration, taking risk, and discover new things. It is that kind of freedom, energy, and attitude that help flourish design. What we can learn from here is the willingness to try and not afraid to fail. We need to respect history but not hanging on too much to the past, discover our strength and develop our style. One must let go to gain.
In the past, the west dominates the world of design. We look at them for inspiration and direction. Today I think the design level is more even out. Good design is everywhere. From east to west and from north to south. The world is more connected and getting smaller. We ought to learn more from each other. Being said that there are still many things we can learn from the west.
What’s your attitude toward life and work?
Inspiration is all around us。 You cannot guarantee to have a good idea between the office hours of 9 to 5。 If you want to be a good designer you cannot just turn off all your design thinking after work。 Being a designer is not a job it is a way of life。 I think life and work are inter-connected。 One inspires the other。 Life enriches the work。 Work makes life more meaningful。
You have been studying and working in the United States for many years. Now your career is very successful. Have you ever thought about going
back to your hometown to open a branch?
VeriFone Digital Taxi-Top Advertising Display
If the right moment and opportunity arise, I will consider opening a branch office in my hometown。
Do you want your children to inherit your design industry in the future? why?
As a designer, I love what I do every day. If my children have the same passion and determination, then I will encourage them to be a designer like me. However, I do believe that everybody has his or her destiny and calling. If you follow the path that is meant to be you will do well. Otherwise, making a compromise and forcing yourself to do something you don’t love will be a tragedy.