5 Things China Taught Me About Design for 2018

As some of you may know back in November I had the opportunity to present at the STIDA Industrial Design & Branding Symposium in Chengdu, ChinaIt was an amazing experience.

This was my first time in China and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit several cities and take in many experiences that I have only read about. I now understand what others said to me prior to leaving, “It’s one thing to read about China and a very different thing to experience it.” For two weeks I experienced many aspects of the country and came back home with a better understanding of the culture and how their economy is evolving.


  1. Inclusive design thinking, which is a holistic way of thinking about ‘everything’ will impact our western way of thinking about design in 2018 because we are being challenged by a new breed of young designers who are focused on disruption as an art form. To be able to challenge the status quo leveraging design is going to be much more prominent in the coming years.
  2. Western design influence in retail is having an impact in the way brands are positioning themselves in China. A majority of the US brands that have opened outposts in China do so in a very extravagant manner, sparing no expense in the use of digital and materials that help elevate the brand. Before this growth, most local brands never had to compete on this level and it’s causing massive disruption amongst Chinese brands to stand out.
  3. Industrial design and experiential design can work together in shaping consumer experiences. What I saw in China was interesting in the user’s experience, not just from the perspective on how they utilized a product but how that product could change the way in which we interact with different environments.
  4. The architecture in China is amazing and they continue to push the boundaries of design. It’s fascinating to see their use of digital as a branding tool, either in the form of exterior elements or within the environment itself.
  5. I realize design in nature has no language barrier. Despite having to rely on a translator for a majority of my conservations there were no awkward moments when I was discussing the principles of design we apply in our approach. We are all striving to create something that is functional and enhances the perception of a space we just at times use different elements to achieve the end result.

Overall, having this experience opened my eyes (no pun intended) to the way design can impact every corner of our world by being ‘borderless’ and sharing a universal language.

This is why heading into my presidency with SEGD, I’m using the slogan Free Your Design, because when we can create without borders and constraints, we can create awesomeness and happiness for our clients and audiences.