We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Xinyi Liu ("XL").
Xinyi Liu, graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology, majored in jewelry design. Worked as a freelance jewelry designer in Manhattan after graduate, now working on her own brand called WiiiM based in Chengdu, China. Xinyi gets her design inspiration from the nature as well as the city view, transforms her idea of the world into her design pieces.
Xinyi Liu Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Xinyi Liu.
Designer Interview of Xinyi Liu:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
XL : I graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology jewelry design major. But I actually started my jewelry career in 2011. I was selling handmade jewelry online, basically some cold connection and wired jewelry, all handmade by me. And then I realized I wanted to become a jewelry professional so I stopped the business for a while and went to New York for school.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
XL : The name of WiiiM studio came out from the word whim because I had a professor said I always have some whimsical designs and I liked it. It is a small studio and I am only selling my jewelry online so far.
DI: What is "design" for you?
XL : Design is something not only about functions, but also about beauty. A good design must be well functioned and beautiful.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
XL : For me, I only design jewelry. And somehow in all the jewelry categories, rings are my favorites. It is very small item but I can have a lot to play with.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
XL : My most favorite design hasn't come out yet because I always have new concept new ideas and I always feel next one will be better, never get 100% satisfied. But if I have to choose, I really love a project I made in school called Curiosity. It is a tea bowl made with silversmithing technique. I liked it not only I like silversmithing but also it was not easy to make, and I don't know if I'll have chance or energy to make another one, so it contains a lot of memory.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
XL : It was a single diamond ring. The diamond was from my father's old ring, he stopped wearing years ago so I took it and redesigned a ring for myself. Now it is also sold in my store.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
XL : I love a lot of traditional techniques such as silversmith because I love how it can form the metal and also apply different textures.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
XL : When I am on the road, especially in a foreign country. The cultural differences inspire me a lot. I can have a lot of doodles on the road and then when I get home I will transform them into technical drawings. That's why
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
XL : I focus more on the concept and the story of the design. Of course I do care about the functions it has to be wearable, but a story is the soul of the theme.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
XL : Sometimes happy sometimes frustrated, it's all vary. But I definitely feel excited when I accomplished a new design.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
XL : Excitement. I haven't had many chance to experience that situation so far, but it happened once or twice and it was a very exciting moment.
DI: What makes a design successful?
XL : People's appreciation. When I design I tend to design things that I like, but maybe they will not be meeting most people's expectation. And when the minority said they love it, then it's a success to me. As long as someone appreciates it, even just one person.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
XL : If it meets my appreciation of beauty.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
XL : They are here to make the world better and more beautiful.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
XL : For many industry, designers are making things better with the functions and also better look on the outside. I cannot picture a world without good designers.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
XL : My inspiration mostly comes from the nature and architectures. And also animations. I love artists like Miyazaki Hayao, the world he created in his film inspired me a lot. And also traveling helps me to feed my creativity, especially different countries and cultures inspire me a lot.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
XL : My designs are tend to be a little bit minimalism and also whimsical. When I started to design new things, I always make sure this is the things that I would like to wear. I believe to please your customers you have to please yourself first.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
XL : I live in Chengdu, China. Before I lived in New York and Beijing. It feels most comfortable and less stressful to leave in my hometown, so I will have more freedom and less pressure to make new designs. But my city is not as developed as Beijing and New York, so sometime I get a little bored with the environment, that's why traveling helps.
DI: How do you work with companies?
XL : I have worked with a few companies as freelancer or contractor. It is very different from working for my own. First I have to make sure I can meet the company's requirements. It is more of a teamwork. But I also get to learn a lot.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
XL : A company should always know their needs on design, so when they look for designers they can search for the match and also it will be more efficient when it comes to work.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
XL : Normally I have a concept first, it could be anything comes into my mind. Then I go online search for references, also to check the possibilities. Then I start to sketch until I am satisfied with the forms. The final sketch or mechanical drawings go to factory.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
XL : I do appreciate AirPods, my BOSE speaker, Dyson vacuum, the LED make up mirror, and also MUJI humidifier.
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
XL : Recently I've been thinking the day of my commencement. Maybe because it's graduating season now. I remembered we were all excited about being graduates. I was also a little scared about the future, school was like my shelter, a safe place to be, but I was gonna go off on my own. Meanwhile I was also excited to see what was next.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
XL : It is not a very easy job, definitely not the best job in the world. But if you have the desire to become a designer and also have the talent, it's worth a shot.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
XL : Positive side to me is I am doing what I like, even it can be tough sometimes I still enjoy very much, and sometimes it can be very free. But it is also very time consuming, not as glamorous as it looks like.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
XL : If I'm not satisfied with what I have done, then just redo it. I'm a perfectionist.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
XL : To me it's mechanical drafting. I didn't realize how important it is for a jewelry designer when I actually started working for people, it helps clients to understand your idea and also the factory can just take the drawing and starts to build.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
XL : Mechanical pencil and eraser. Gemstones templates and compass. Photoshop, Pinterest and Instagram.
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
XL : Yes it is very true. I always try to be efficient with my work. When I got stuck with an idea and couldn't move further I choose to just take a break to refresh my mind.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
XL : It depends. A handcraft work can take from a few weeks up to months to finish. Regular commercial project take a few days to design and a few weeks to finish.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
XL : Is it fun to be a designer? The answer is yes. Of course there was time when the work became difficult, but overall I know I'm doing the things I love.
DI: What was your most important job experience?
XL : I have been as a salesperson for an international jewelry company once in New York. Although it was not a designer position, I did gain a lot of experience of how to communicate to clients and how to meet their needs. It was very helpful. As a designer, you first need to listen and understand your customer.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
XL : Clients are most from online but I also have some private clients who were introduced by friends and they tend to make custom orders.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
XL : I am still building up my business in China, hopefully I can expand from online to more other options like buyer's shops.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
XL : I develop the designs myself, but I would like to build a team later when the business is bigger. Working with different people and having different thoughts is a fun thing.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
XL : Currently I am working on my new collections. It is a collection of geometrical forms of jewelry.
DI: How can people contact you?
XL : For any inquiries they can contact me through my email firstname.lastname@example.org