The Hong Kong Trade Development Council's (HKTDC) DesignInspire event partnered with Swiss watchmaker Rado for the 2018 Rado Star Competition, encouraging young designers in the region to be innovative
The Rado Star Competition, an annual event held in various countries that promotes the work of young designers, had the theme "Design inspired by nature" for its Hong Kong edition last year. The aim was to encourage young creatives to design functional products that help to make everyday life easier, with materials, textures and inspiration taken from the natural world.
The competition's grand prize, the Rado Star Prize, was won by Hattie Chan, a Year 4 student studying product design at the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi). Her winning piece, Eclipse, mimics a lunar eclipse, and its dual functions – a lighting fixture and a mirror – answered the challenges posed by the competition. The Public's Choice Award, which was voted for by visitors to DesignInspire, went to Issac Chan, also a student of THEi. His creation, Reiki, is an aromatherapy humidifier and a coat hanger stand in one, and takes the form and even the smell of a tree.
The winning and shortlisted products were showcased in the DesignInspire exhibition, held between December 6 and 8, 2018. The winning designers were asked about their creative ideas…What was the inspiration behind your design?
Hattie Chan: Eclipse was very much inspired by modern Chinese interior design. Last summer, I joined an internship where I was tasked with creating a set of goods with the themes 'missing' and 'hoping' – themes that I want to continue incorporating into my designs. It reminded me of the mid-autumn festival, where the full moon is regarded as a time for family reunion, while simultaneously evoking the feeling of sorrow if you're parted from your loved ones. That is where the idea to design a wall-mounted light piece to represent the moon came from: I wanted to create a sense of home from this piece so that users can enjoy their very own lunar eclipse.
The grand prize, the Rado Star Prize, was won by Hattie Chan, a Year 4 student studying product design at the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi)
Issac Chan: I got the inspiration for Reiki from my biology class. The design is largely based on the appearance and behaviour of trees, since a lot of coat hanger stands are shaped like trees; I think it worked out really well.
How do you feel about winning the awards?
HC: I am really surprised by the first-prize win, as I think that other designers' works are also really great. There were a lot of creative use of functions and new technologies in other designers' works, as well as the use of unconventional materials.
IC: I am very thankful for everybody who voted for me, I think the works of other designers are unique as well.What does good design mean to you?
HC: I think good design should be able to address different concerns, including the functionality, aesthetics and the user's experience. A good design may also involve some risk-taking, as the process of innovation may entail trial and error. While making the prototype of Eclipse, I experienced multiple failures while trying to figure out the mechanism.
IC: A colleague of mine once said that a well-designed product is to make humans as lazy and useless as possible. I don't disagree, but I also think that good designs need to do all that while being as simple as possible, and have a visual appearance that is closely tied with its functions.
In your opinion, does form have to be compromised by functionality, or vice-versa?
HC: I will think that both function and beauty are important when conceiving a design, as a better function can improve the user's experience, while a better appearance can create a better first impression.
DesignInspire is a great international platform for Hong Kong designers to showcase themselves
How does your study in product design help and enhance your creation?
IC: It enhances my ability to quickly determine whether a design can become a feasible product, which comes from lessons I took in production and engineering. It really helps me to separate feasible design and those that are unlikely to move into mass production.
Do you think the exhibition at DesignInspire was a good showcase for Hong Kong's young creative talent?
HC: DesignInspire is a great international platform for Hong Kong designers to showcase themselves, as different companies and brands join this big exhibition. It attracts a lot of attention and creates real impact, as many people share photos on social media platforms.