We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Zhulin Shi ("ZS").
Hangzhou, China-born, New York based Zhulin(Chanel) Shi is an Industrial designer, fashion accessory designer and artist. After earning a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Industrial Design from Zhejiang University, she completed a Master’s degree in Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. In 2014, having worked with Marc Jacobs footwear design studio, she began to seamlessly blend two worlds of tech and fashion in the inter-disciplinary practice. Since then, Chanel has gained experience working as a wearable product designer in the perceptual computing group at Intel, and a footwear designer in the innovation group at Cole Haan. From 2017 to present, she is working at Stuart Weitzman as an accessory designer. Chanel’s Design, Seatto, has won 2011 Red Dot Concept Design Award. Since 2014, Chanel has begun exploring the innovative connection between the movement and product in New York. Her “Pressmarts - Rock Sofa” design was exhibited in the NYC Media Lab’s Annul Summit. In 2016, Chanel was invited to launch an experimental workshop - “Sense Move” at New Musical Instrument Hackthom 2016 at the Spotify headquarter. In 2018, she launched Last Lab in New York. Last Lab creates pinnacle coveted accessory designs. Focusing on exceptional materials and construction, Last Lab combines a pioneering perspective to enhance people’s experience of moving in their life and to expand the boundaries of the art performance.
Zhulin Shi Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Zhulin Shi.
Designer Interview of Zhulin Shi:
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?
ZS : I am an Industrial designer, fashion accessory designer and artist. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and a Master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering from Zhejiang University, I completed a Master’s degree in Industrial Design at Pratt Institute in 2016. In 2014, I have worked with Marc Jacobs footwear design studio, I began to seamlessly blend two worlds of tech and fashion in the inter-disciplinary practice. Since then, I have gained experience working as a wearable product designer in the perceptual computing group at Intel, and a footwear designer in the innovation group at Cole Haan. From 2017 to present, I am working at Stuart Weitzman as an accessory designer. In my childhood, I was dreaming to be an artist. I always like painting and dancing.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
ZS : In 2018, I launched Last Lab in New York. Last Lab creates pinnacle coveted accessory designs. Focusing on exceptional materials and construction, Last Lab combines a pioneering perspective to enhance people’s experience of moving in their life and to expand the boundaries of the art performance.
DI: What is "design" for you?
ZS : Design is to use smart way to life people's life, make them happy and inspire them in their daily life.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
ZS : Exploring new stuff and mock-up.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
ZS : Wow Water bottle. It is an unique folding water bottle design with an aesthetic movement. My initial concept is to make a transformation water bottle which is easy to carry. Then I obsessed about discovering different folding movements to get the goal as well as considering the people's different behaviors. With the elegant hand movement, Wow transfer from 2-D to 3-D, "WOW" .
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
ZS : At Cole Haan Innovation team, I designed women's shoe for displaying at the Cole Haan Oculus store. Inspired by the architecture of the Oculus Building, the heel catch the upper with an empty space to highlight the seamless technology of the upper.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
ZS : Leather and tech material
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
ZS : Exploring new form and structure from a loose idea.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
ZS : Concept. The Concept should be interesting and make myself happy first.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
ZS : I feel invigorated, curious, challenged and amused.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
ZS : Enjoyment.
DI: What makes a design successful?
ZS : The design create value in people's life. It is innovative, practical, making people happy and though-provoking.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
ZS : The concept and presentation. Is it fresh to catch my eyes and touch my heart?
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
ZS : To help transform how we think, we can tackle underlying biases and prejudices that people may have but would be happy to be eased out of, say, fostering the sustainability, helping the disadvantage groups.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
ZS : The "Design field" is embracing creativity and diversity. The future of design is change people's behavior, people's life and the world.
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
ZS : I held experimental “Sense & Sound” workshop and exhibited the Sense Move costume design at the New Musical Instrument Hackathon 2016 at the Spotify headquarters in NYC.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
ZS : In 2011, I studied contact improvisation in UC Davis with famous choreographer Nita Little. With the experience in dancing and choreography, I started to ask myself how can costume further link emotional experience to our mind. Nita Little wrote “the ‘mountain’ moves and the ‘cloud’ changes as a result. Notice how our attention travels across surfaces while your awareness may slip into the volumes they contain.” A common thread was found in my research, which is costumes can make a connection between movement, imagination and emotion.
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?
ZS : My design style is simple, emotional, giving "wow" moment to people. I found most of my designs can be transformable, create a dynamic form to give people a little surprise in their daily life.
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?
ZS : I live in New York now. I feel the cultural heritage of my country didn't affect my design a lot, since I embrace the culture diversity in New York, and I wish the design can be universal in the world.
DI: How do you work with companies?
ZS : I will know the company's goal and needs first, and communicate and make proposals sometimes.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
ZS : Based on the designer's portfolio to see if it match with the brand's style.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
ZS : Come up an idea from my life or the customer's need, brain storm and market research, pick the good ideas and sketch or mock up, and evaluate the ideas and develop the design, make the tech-pack for the design with the detail concerns, in terms of the material, construction, then produce it, and do the user test and make corrections on the prototypes, then promote the design.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
ZS : Celine's Box corssbody bag, Celine's Box pearl earring, SMEG toaster, iphone, MENU table lamp
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
ZS : Wake up at 7:30am - Work out in 25 mins - Cook and have breakfast - Check Emails - Communicate with the co-workers - Do some work for the company - Reading a book in 30 mins - Cook and have lunch around 1:00pm - Check the news and fashion trends - Have a work meeting - Do some design works - Have some fruits and yogurt at 5:30 - Dance/play piano - Have a shower - See a movie - Go to sleep
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
ZS : Practice more on foundation class. Don't be lazy! The more you practice and moke up, the more you gain later, one day your eyes will be sharper and know how to evaluate and improve your design by yourself.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
ZS : I am happy to be a designer that I can use my creativity to make new products and use design thinking to solve the problems in my daily life.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
ZS : Make people happy in their lives.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
ZS : Vision, creativity, curiosity, professional design skills, communication
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
ZS : Photoshop, Illustration, rhino, keyshot
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
ZS : Set a deadline by myself.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
ZS : Depends on the project. It can be few days or few months based on the customer's needs and budget.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
ZS : How do you feel the design?
DI: What was your most important job experience?
ZS : Working on handbag design for Stuart Weitzman.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
ZS : Some accessory designer brands
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
ZS : Fashion accessory design. I love fashion and create my fashion statement.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
ZS : Do more good designs, to improve people's life and make people happy.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
ZS : When it comes to production and promotion, I usually work with a team.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
ZS : I have design 2021 Chinese new year clutch recently.
DI: How can people contact you?
ZS : instagram:chanelshi4
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
ZS : Have passion in your work!