Interview with designer Kevin Chu (KC), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Giulia Shelf Storage Shelf.

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Interview with Kevin Chu at Tuesday 17th of May 2011: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
KC : I always believe we are surrounded by inspiration and in this case relating to my shelf design; it lives with me! My girlfriend, who is of South Italian descent, have very curly and messy hair. She also happens to be a proponent of messiness in storing things so i started to look around all the shelves in many furniture shops and catalogues. No matter how irregular the design of the aforementioned shelves are, there are always this hidden agenda to make the user stack stuff properly. So this initiated my mission to design a storage system that does not allow you to be too organize. Also one of the reason why the main structure is constructed out of high polish stainless steel is to create distorted reflection of scenery and color around the shelf which further "confuses" the geometry of structure. The application of artificial turf within the internal storage areas comes from a sentence i read, "we are infused by the garden of knowledge" which strikes a question to me that why do i hardly ever see artificial turf applied to any storage system. It created an illusion of a garden inside ones living space as well as offering a non-slip texturized surface for objects to grip on to thus avoiding free falling. This is the reason why Giulia (my girlfriend's name, which i deemed very appropriate for the naming of this design) storage shelf came into existence.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
KC : My main focus in this piece, as with nearly all my architectural, interior as well as product design work is to offer a design solution which does not follow an obvious trend or method. I utilize a slight alteration motto of Le Corbusier "forms follows function" into"form DECEIVES function". I always try to create design pieces that are not obvious in their functionality as well as following the idea of irregularity. I believe we should always allow the user to have fun with any design and we can even let the user becomes as much a designer as us. My theory is that designers, like artist, offers alternative vision of the preconceive reality and the user can also offer their own ideology into our creation. I think by way of participating the user's physical input into our creation, we can learn much more about the human interaction on what an "interesting" design should be.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
KC : I am currently looking for any interested companies or manufacturers in Europe to collaborate and produce this design. My company is currently based between Hong Kong and Beijing while although mass manufacturing is abundant in China, I am encountering many manufacturing issues when it comes to producing complex modern furniture. The workmanship and manufacturing technique here still lacks behind Europe and although the production cost is lower here, i believe all my designs needs to be produced in the highest quality using truly state of the art technology. I have quite a few designs in my catalogue that are currently awaiting for production as several prototypes manufactured in China have not met my approval standard. So a collaborative effort in any competent European design or manufacturing houses are what i am hoping for. Since i am resided in the second biggest consumer market in the world i believe this collaboration will allow great benefits in promoting creative Asian design to both European and the Chinese market.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
KC : Not very long at all, maybe 2-3 days! Once all the inspiration elements fell into the place, the shelf pratically creates itself!

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
KC : It was a pure personal design inspiration. I was at the time launching a small collection of my company's furniture range and this was one of the main launch piece.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
KC : Currently the design right is owned by myself and i am open to suggestion on the possibility of distribution or manufacturing. I am happy to sell or lease the design to any establish design company and i would like to establish any possible contractual collaboration if there are any further interest in my work.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
KC : I have always designed furnitures even when i was at university. I did a lot of furniture design when i was working for architectural firms in Hong Kong and London. Most of these pieces have been created purely for commercial decisions so none are very creative. Since the initiation of my company in 2006 i have always wanted to launch my furniture collection that are as creative as i can conceive them to be. Although my company's principle is architectural and interior design, i always prefer to offer a complete design solution to my client which includes furniture and even artwork painted by myself.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
KC : I would say i am not a particular fan of any paritcular designer as i like a huge array of designs. I came from a very architectural background where "deconstructivism" was a main influence of my work. Because of my studies with Peter Cook, Zaha Hadid, Tom Mayne and so forth, it is natural that there are bits and pieces of influence from these great master but i try hard to avoid direct imitation. I actually work with 2 very simple principle: Geometrical Manipulation as well as Non-Asymmetric design. I also always try to deceive the functionality of my design, be it a building or even just a cup.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
KC : I suppose anyone who appreciated unique modern design. I assume someone more into modernism will be my main market but i think age or gender has no influence. I think someone who appreciated unconventional aesthetics will appreciate my work.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
KC : By making the design more akin to a sculpture, i avoid the stereotypical typecasting of "a piece of furniture". The act of promoting messiness within a storage is also unheard of as far as i know. The combination of high polish finish with artificial turf for a storage shelf is also very rare in the design world and finally the welding of 2mm thick stainless steel ellipses into a storage shelf also makes it much lighter looking then most designs in the marketplace.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
KC : Simply my girlfriend's first name. Since she is the main influence of this design she deserves the highest recognition.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
KC : Pencil Sketching,Paper model making, Autocad, 3D Studio Max and Photoshop.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
KC : Utterly no flat storage surfaces within the shelf which promote messy placement of storage objects.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
KC : I consulted several of my contractors in Hong Kong for construction feasibility but the design was completely conceived by myself. (hope my girlfriend doesn't mind my selfish claim for glory!!)

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
KC : Quite a bit i suppose. First obstacle will be how to create the 2mm thick stainless steel ellipses without having an obvious welding joint. Second is how do we weld the ellipses together while not allowing for obvious welding joints. Also the process of polishing should be done before or after the welding process raises further enquiries. Finally how do we laminate the artificial turf permanently to the steel structure without any ugly lamination artifacts.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
KC : No

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
KC : As mentioned above on the role of technology questionnaire. Those are the technical challenges i encountered when trying to put the design into production. Also the fear of sub-standard workmanship in China haunts my personal commitment in financial investment to this project.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
KC : I was advice by several of my clients as well as my girlfriend (of course!) to submit this design into competition. Since the Giulia Shelf has been conceptually completed there has been many interest on physically realizing this project and i was hoping to gain more publicity on this design as well as to learn more about solutions from other companies on how to manufacture and distribute my products.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
KC : I think the answer is very simple: Once you start the process of designing anything, you are constantly learning different elements from the process. Be it the computer technology required, the construction process, the cost evaluation as well as marketing and distribution of the product. I don't want to say that this particular design has made me "learn" more as i see every design is in equal measure to gain more knowledge. With the launch of my furniture collection i have gain vast knowledge on manufacturers in china as well as marketing network in Asia and through this process i have also come to streamline material choice in order to reduce production cost as well as time consumption. But the main thing i always learnt is that truly unique design required vastly greater effort to come into realization. Be it political, economical or cerebral, it is a process much more fulfilling at the end to me.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
KC : None that i know of so far but i will be happy to answer any further queries on my work. Please write to me on as i always like to discuss any aspects related to the design world.