Shuaicheng (Drake) Dong
IDA 2022 Emerging Product Designer of the Year
Tell us about your definition of design?
Design for me is a decision-making process. Every designer has their own ways and habits of making decisions. As a result, every designer’s original creation is a reflection of that decision-making process. Therefore, the definition of design for me is not a value statement, in fact, it’s far from a value statement. So design shall not be limited by a general value evaluation system, it’s a result of different choices from an individual’s free will.
What do you see are the strengths of your IDA winning project ATLAS, and what does winning this IDA award mean to you personally?
I see the biggest strength of my project is that it provides a complete system for solving a major social problem. Winning this major award means a lot to me. As a young designer, it is very encouraging and gives me an objective evaluation of my design skills.
What is your guiding design principle?
Most of my design concepts over the past five years, have been based on a representation of both the progression of society and the development of technology. This is because I believe both social and science are essential parts of the human experience.
Do you see design an expression of art?
I don’t see design as an expression of art. Instead, I see design as a derivative of art.
But when we talk about design, we have to include art. Art has existed since the dawn of human beings, and art has existed since humans began to think. In fact, I believe that art in general, is thinking itself. The thinking does not need an end or conclusion, the critical part is how it begins. Just like a decision is the result of thinking, design is a derivative of art. If art is thinking itself, then making a decision is design. A decision could be made in many ways – using either comparison, logic, passion or experience.
Is design for you a creation of an individual or a group?
Design can be created by both an individual or group as long as there is respect for the others during the design process. For me, design work is a very sacred thing. As a result, when I work with another individual or a group, I respect their contributions as an equal. Therefore, I am always willing to work with a larger team and share my expertise with other designers.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you develop a passion for design?
I didn’t choose to be a designer, rather design chose me. Since I was a child, I felt I was always a misfit to the majorities. I was always carving wooden desks to make patterns or drawing space battle scenes in a textbook. I didn’t intend to learn art or plan to be a designer, it just seemed like the only thing left for me to do. From drawing aliens on a desk to becoming a product designer, I think every person in this world has their own path to walk. I have learned to embrace being different and enjoy the power of expression and the freedom I find in creating objects.
Tell us about a project which has been your greatest achievement?
Until now, my greatest achievement has been creating the project “ATLAS” , for which I won multiple IDA awards and the project has been patented through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I learnt a lot during the process. However, most importantly, this project challenged me to solve more significant problems.
How do you feel design has evolved over the past years and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I believe that design is a direct result of human activities. When there is a change in society, that change is eventually reflected in the design world. We are currently in a time of world social reform. And in this area, I hope that design can help guide humanity to move forward. Along the way, the designer is responsible for providing comfort and reasonable solutions to society rather than simply filling human desire.
What would be your dream design project?
Haha, maybe ‘Design for Jazz station FM88.1’. I love what they are doing.
What kind of questions do you ask before beginning a design project? What piece of information is of utmost value?
When it comes to my individual projects, I first ask myself where my interest is right now. I can only start a project with passion and a belief in it. The most valuable information is always how much time and resources do I have for this project.
How do you deal with feedback?
I value honest feedback with solid logic and personal opinion. But, on the other hand, I have to filter out some feedback where sometimes more information is required for genuine support.
What do you see as the future of design?
“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”