We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Jian'an Zhou ("JZ").
Jian’an Zhou, Chief Designer of Nine-Court Mansion, Founder of INLab Design and Conslutancy with 17 years of design and management experience. The Kids Dream Kids Enjoy system is created by Jian’an Zhou as a guideline for children activity yard in Chinese residential area, which provide a safer and integrated playground for children and their guardians. Jian’an Zhou delicates to improve the enjoyment and quality of residential area.
Jian'an Zhou Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Jian'an Zhou.
Designer Interview of Jian'an Zhou:
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?
JZ : I graduated from Guilin University of Technology, majoring in environmental design. After graduation, I worked as a landscape designer first in a real estate company and afterwards in a design company. During my 17-year career I participated in many good projects.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JZ : IN Lab is a landscape design firm specialized in small-sized high-end projects. With its quality services in landscape design, it aims to show the uniqueness and maximize the social values of every piece of land in order to improve people’s quality of life and well-being.
DI: What is "design" for you?
JZ : I think design refers to the orderly arrangements of the elements of life. By taking apart our living environment into sperate parts and reorganizing them in a certain way, it aims for optimizing our living space and quality of life.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
JZ : I am attracted to residential landscape design, which brings people a better living environment.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JZ : The HOSHINOYA Luxury Hotels in Karuizawa is a hot spring resort in a valley, with its landscape design conducted by Hiroki Hasegawa based on Japan’s traditional culture.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
JZ : Residential garden design.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JZ : Pervious concrete is extremely environmental-friendly, which is helpful for building sponge cities.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
JZ : Sit on a coach watching outside.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JZ : I attach great importance to the problems design aims to address and seek solutions.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JZ : Feel very excited and look forward to the future of the project.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JZ : Feel more tranquil than excited and would give a sensible analysis of the gains and losses of the project and using the experience learned to guide the next project.
DI: What makes a design successful?
JZ : In my opinion, a successful project can address the function and artistic values of the project at the same time.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
JZ : Whether it actually resolves the problems existing in the project?
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JZ : Designers need to address the practical issues surrounding people’s living environment, be inspirational to people and play a positive role in the society on the spiritual level.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
JZ : Design is an interdisciplinary major. Nowadays, with various fields of study being interconnected, the design field would keep improving and making progress.
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JZ : I am a landscape designer so it’s impossible for me to hold my own exhibitions, but I hope more people could see my works.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JZ : The most important thing is to be a keen observer. Your continual observation of life and reflections make you aware of the problems in life and would inspire you to find solutions.
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?
JZ : As a landscape designer, I’ve developed a liking for the minimalist style. Observation has always been my source of inspiration. Through observation, problems can be found and eventually resolved.
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?
JZ : I live in China and traditional Chinese culture has a big impact on my design so I focus more on building oriental landscape. That’s why I have a lot to do in my understanding of the western style.
DI: How do you work with companies?
JZ : I would lead my colleagues to conduct careful pre-stage analyses and through brainstorming, collect as many ideas as possible and find the most proper solutions thereof.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
JZ : This is a process requiring constant cooperation. Companies and their designers need to understand each other and find common grounds to ensure everything go smoothly.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JZ : Careful pre-stage analyses and brainstorming with colleagues to find solutions working best and then continue to make improvement according to the specific situations of a project.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JZ : Garden, kitchen bar table, bedside lamp, bedroom and balcony.
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
JZ : Wake up by my alarm clock and my passion for work; go to work and stick to the plan made yesterday; do a lot of reading at night; realize the need to do more exercises until it’s time to sleep.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JZ : Keep working out and a keen observation and spent more time thinking about the ideas behind outstanding projects.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
JZ : Designers have greater passion for life and keener ability to find beauty in life. But most of the time, they sit behind a desk, so they need to go outside and do exercises to stay healthy and keep a sharp mind.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
JZ : Use the simplest way to address the fundamental issues of a project.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
JZ : Observation and analytical skills and logical thinking.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JZ : AutoCAD, SketchUp and Adobe software.
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
JZ : Focusing on the fundamental issues and spent the most time finding solutions working best. In addition, we have standardized many operations, which can improve efficiency significantly.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JZ : It depends on the difficulty of a project. Generally, it takes three months to a year.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JZ : The reasons behind your design.
DI: What was your most important job experience?
JZ : The design of Chongqi No.1 Central Mansion gave me a deeper understanding of the exquisite effects designers pursue and the ideas behind them.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
JZ : Residential, commercial and tourism developers.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JZ : I prefer to do landscape design of residential areas as I have always hoped to develop a design system to improve people’s living environment within a limited space.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JZ : I would continue to devote to working on sophisticated and high-quality landscape design projects. My next project is a hanging garden project, which is a challenge I’m very looking forward to.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JZ : We work together as a team to produce more high-quality projects.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JZ : Currently I am working on a hanging garden project, which is very high-end and futuristic. I hope we could achieve a satisfactory result.
DI: How can people contact you?
JZ : I would love to contacted through my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
JZ : Any suggestions would be welcomed and we are committed to do our next project better.