guest lecturer & workshop at DE TAO GROUP in Shanghai

Making Designs to Your Own Preference – Intensive Workshop of SIVA • DeTao Advanced Class – Sustainable Furniture Design.

The Breakpoint Workshop is a new comprehensive course comprised of weekly intensive teaching and project seminars. The studio of Prof. Dirk Wynants, DeTao Master of Durable Product Design, adapts the curriculum according to the progress of students’ projects while the different courses expose students to the features of all industries before integrating them into their own designs.

Mr. Alain Monnens is a renowned figure within his field. He works and lives in Roeselare, the national lighting industry center of Belgium, and is the founder of idam and has created numerous celebrated designs for tossB, Durlet, Wildspirit and Vertigo Bird. Speaking on the success of his efficient designs, Alain says, ‘it is my goal to remove the redundancies in design, but to still keep a distance from minimalism.’ Alternatively, to put it another way, to replace redundancy with essence.

As the class started, Mr. Alain Monnens asked students to select their favorite products and tell the stories behind each of them. For the duration of the morning session, students completed the tasks and printed out their resources. When the afternoon session arrived, the students made presentations and discussed their preferences in detail.

After class, the teacher asked students to conduct one-on-one interviews among themselves. The interviewees reflected upon the questions before interviews started, which involved questions regarding joints, lines, materials, and spirit. The detailed interaction of the interviews helped them discover the origins of their preferences.

On the second day, students brought along their favorite products from daily life and chose one to redesign. The revamp process would echo what they had learned on the previous day, and with that aim, they got down to business, displaying a new enthusiasm and reflecting their identity as freshmen.

The product preference differed largely across personalities. With limited time, students were encouraged to make models as soon as possible.

The final presentation of the workshop took place on Friday in which students presented their learning outcomes of the week to the teachers and Prof. Dirk Wynants. This short week proved productive to all, and the following comments demonstrate how students felt about the workshop:

“It is inspiring to do what you like. You don’t have to be motivated by others or compare yourself with your peers, because you are doing what you like instead of simply completing assignments.”

“It certainly is a novel approach. Instantaneous inspiration is amazing, and I enjoy the challenge of time constraints as it fuels my production speed.”

“The workshop certainly expanded our horizons, and I really enjoyed having the freedom to design what I like.”

“The workshop began by encouraging us talk about our favorite designer and product, while learning about the importance of modeling for design. It has reminded me how hard it is to produce practical, affordable, and good-looking products in an age where most of us adore appearance and wealth. This is how modeling shapes our everyday objects: after making display boards of our favorite products, we should reflect upon why we preferred them and how to use them in our designs. I have focused on the element that I prefer (design language), which may also be the reason why others share my interest in it. This prompted me to think about how to develop my own design language.”

“The workshop this week has given me the impression that true design is a form of freedom. Designs are always made for others, the majority, and even the young and the elderly. How long has it been since we made designs for ourselves? The workshop had a tight schedule, but the results were extremely gratifying. As an entry-level designer, I am now much more confident in making my own designs.”

“This workshop is only one week long, but we have learned many design philosophies. Alain compared product design to dating, where first impressions mattered most before digging deeper to discover the real identity. How can we make the best possible first impression? For a product, it is to give it a great appearance. Therefore, Alain advised us to pay close attention to modeling and begin with our favorite products. According to his analysis, it is vital to identify the common traits among the products that you prefer and integrate them into your daily non-electronic products before you are done with the design of a new product. The workshop thus taught us how important models were to a product’s final image.”

“The workshop this week has benefited me a lot. We started by choosing a product and style for redesign, out of our own preference. Then we came up with an attractive and functional product within two days. Aesthetically, that seemed to be an effective way to think out of the box, which can be applied to all future design assignments.”

“The workshop this week finally enabled me to dispose of complicated concepts like functionality, human engineering, intention, etc. We were making designs based purely on aesthetics and models. With the evolution of industrial design, the products’ features are rapidly approaching saturation. People are becoming increasingly demanding about modeling, and thus a workshop of this nature will be undoubtedly beneficial for our future projects.”


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