A: I believe the clients come to me and my design studio due to my ability and competence. When they disagree with my concept, being a good designer, I usually tell them the reason why we do this and why we don’t, and the implication of this. After they realize you have all supportive reasons behind the design, they will respect you. After all, you are more professional than they are. A designer, who does whatever he is told to, runs counter to the real art.
Q: how do you refuse the clients? You think of yourself a ‘bad tempered’ man.
A: Well, I have bad temper indeed, but I know how to respect my client. ‘Persuasion’ is always my first choice. Actually I persuade my students in the studio as well. They are happy to work with me because they don’t only obtain knowledge but have fun.
Q: Students? Haven’t you finished teaching career?
A: It’s far away. One of main reasons that I came to China is to see whether I can teach Chinese even international students with my knowledge and skills. Currently, there are many young designers and fresh design graduates. I will focus on educating them both theory and practice, which is totally different from Chinese education. I lead them to do the projects and research; therefore each one can learn some knowledge, like latest material, architecture technology, etc., and then they can share these knowledge in a weekly presentation. An individual can never learn all in any industry by themselves, but by sharing, our studio has accumulated lots of valuable knowledge, so you can even say see this is a new university.
Q: What’s the difference between Chinese students and international students?
A: Chinese students are very good; they are passionate about learning and have talent. However their thinking is a bit ‘rigid’, and they are not used to challenging the tradition and text books. Therefore what I’m going to do is teach them to get used to asking ‘why not’ by practice.
Q: We know you have got a home in Chengdu which is a quite different from Shenzhen, so why did you come to Shenzhen?
A: Business is the main reason to lead me to Shenzhen, besides; there is a good atmosphere of design here. Shenzhen impresses me by modern, clean and simple and efficient urban plan. Unfortunately, there is little old architecture, which is a shame to the local residents more or less.
Q: Is the old architecture so important?
A: Yes, it is. It’s the invaluable cultural legacy to human beings. Without it, it is very hard for our offspring to understand and experience their ancestors. In London, you can see many ancient buildings maintained very well, which reflect the cultural details of London and remind people of old times. It’s sad and disappointing to see many old buildings vanish overnight while China is growing.
Q: Finally let’s talk about Mao Bar.
A: Mao Bar is a theme bar which was run by my wife and me. I like Chinese culture, Mr. Mao and Chinese ancient philosophy. I made the bar on my own to show a concept of combination of dining and fashion. To me, Mr. Mao is a symbolized fashion element. Any product influenced by it gives a special feeling.