We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Chia-Hui Lu ("CL").

Designer Profile of Chia-Hui Lu

Chia-Hui Lu is a passionate musician and artist. She is a pioneer in Taiwan’s cross art scene, a composer, a music director, producer and a renowned concert pianist. As the Chairwoman of the Egret Foundation, Ms. Lu continues on the organization’s 28 year tradition in promoting music and culture in Taiwan.

Chia-Hui Lu Designs

We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Chia-Hui Lu.

Amore New Performing Art

Chia-Hui Lu Design - Amore New Performing Art

Designer Interview of Chia-Hui Lu:

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?

CL : I am a classical pianist by training and have performed in many concerts around the world. As the Chairwoman of the Egret Foundation, I am deeply involved with the cultural and educational aspects of art. I eagerly lead our team in the continual effort to promote music, culture, and art not just in Taiwan, but globally. Through engaging artists from different fields, we are able to open doors to new opportunities to create new art. Today, I continue to multitask as a community leader, performer, designer, composer, and producer. 
Over the years, I’ve published two piano albums: “Enchanted” and “Amore”. In the cross arts field, I was the Executive Music Director for “Sayion I” and “Sayion II”, where I composed and arranged music for the interactive new media theater productions. In these two productions, our team incorporated 720-degree VR and 3D motion-capture systems. I curated “Impression of Taiwan” for the Art Taipei Expo. XR Obsession is another production that I debuted at the Expo that combined a live piano performance of music and dance in an extended reality 4DViews volumetric capture new media experience. For my personal piano recital, “Water on Fire”, we combined Western classical music with Eastern poetry from a Taiwan poet, Goya Lan.As the producer and art director of a classical repertoire, “Amore”, we reinvented paintings by Paul Chiang, transforming it into animated 3D visuals. More recently, I curated the Sacred Garden as a partner of the international Ars Electronica Festival 2021. Recently our short film productions were featured in several international film festivals. I believe I started listening to music even before I was born, in the belly of my pregnant mother as she prepared and performed a piano concert. In childhood I often played and slept under the piano. The piano is my castle and music has become my religion. Classical Music to me is essential like motherhood and air. I started my classical piano training at the age of five. I later studied in New York City, where I fell deeply in love with the opera and had the opportunity to study fashion and Musicals. New York City has changed my life completely. 

Growing up was not easy. I had asthma and lived through a period of social unrest where I was separated from my parents and fell under the care of my grandparents. My late grandfather happens to be a renowned painter in Taiwan and a world traveler. His paintings include both western and eastern styles. I used to be his little helper and modeled for him. I grew up with artists and musicians. Art and music is a basic part of my life.

DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?

CL : For over twenty eight years, the Egret Foundation has been and continues to be devoted to promoting and branding Taiwan! The foundation has collaborated and fostered solid relationships with numerous artists of all ages. Those at the top of their fields often come together to collectively innovate. The foundation has commissioned new compositions, new media productions, creative works, research publications, dictionaries, documentaries and in-depth cultural tourism itineraries. The foundation has also participated in the identification of Taiwan’s colors and the development of art-inspired, creative and cultural commercial products. With Taiwan’s DNA as its base, the foundation integrates varying arts, performances and technologies to pursue diversity in creative works with the goal of refining Taiwan into a precious diamond!

DI: What is "design" for you?

CL : My concept of “design” is the innovative process that takes place from the beginning of some inspirational moment that leads to the extraction of the traditional to create something aspiringly new.

DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?

CL : As a musician, most of my designs are for the Performing arts. I relish composing music for performances, theater, and films. I also enjoy music design for all kinds of visuals. Plato once said Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. To me music is even more colorful than a rainbow. I am able to visually picture all kinds of stories and colors through Music.

DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?

CL : I am very fond of "Amore". Amore, to me, is an avant-garde production created to elevate the artistry of performing, conceptual, kinetic, digital, video, and abstract art. Paintings by Paul Chiang are 3D animated and catalyzed to life. The metamorphic moving art intertwines and interacts in a marriage with its soul mate, music. Though the focus is love, it also unites human emotions (Joy, Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Love, Hate, Affection) alongside eastern elements (Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth) to create a dramatically diverse western classical music performing art. All in order to achieve a mutual interdependence Yin-Yang balance.

 I want to highlight that pairing and synching appealing multimedia animations to music and then to debut it together in a live performance is enormously complex. But I am a firm believer in innovative works and in pushing the envelope of artistry to elevate the overall level of performing art.
 Though Performing Art is momentary in action, each live performance is never the same, and that is the beauty of it. Through post-production work, Amore was edited, documented, and preserved via fine art archive films. Music to me is like a faith or a religion. Music and art purify your body, mind, and soul. Music and art also inspire, triggering the inner voice of creativity. Through creations, musicians and artists can leave a cultural legacy to inspire future generations. With Amore, I wish all the believers in love, a happy life and may all your dreams come true.

DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?

CL : As a classical pianist, I have performed many programs from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Liszt to name a few. My first design or a better way to put it, my first composition was a rework of the Tango. Stepping out of my comfort zone of performing classical music on stage to composing my own work to be performed at a concert was an eye opener. That was the first step of many that eventually led to award winning works.

DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?

CL : My favorite material is paper. It’s easy to be molded. I can play with it all day long. I’m still in the process of searching for new types of apps and software for music and visuals. I’m old school. I do most of my work with color pens and paper. Performing art is distant to the majority of the population and I want to come up with ideas to better engage individuals at the event. Creating innovative interactive art for people to engage with curiosity and enthusiasm makes a lot of sense. I have found incorporating technology to artwork to be great attention grabbers. I have in the past used 4DViews volumetric capture, 3D animation, and VR/AR/XR props with great success. And I look forward to incorporating new technological platforms in the future.

DI: When do you feel the most creative?

CL : I believe that I am the most creative while asleep. I’m a night dreamer. I can have episodic dreams spanning nights. Most of my ideas and inspiration come from my dreams. I have had this ability since childhood. It’s a blessing and a curse. The negative is that I barely get any rest at night. I would wake up tired and sometimes stressed out so early in the morning. Once I dreamt that a lion pounced and ripped open my chest. The shock awoke me to find myself with heart pain. I have noticed that dreams do affect me physically and mentally. A number of my compositions and themes to my productions and stories have directly come from my dream.

DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?

CL : I focus on all aspects. There’s no preference. It’s a matter of ordering and I change my order around all the time. I don’t play by the rules, but I do struggle in making choices among multiple ideas. It’s a trial and error process to see what really stands out. It has something to do with my classical pianist training. Long hours of practice for precision and perfection. I am very detail oriented. Detail polishing is very time consuming especially for perfection. “The devil is in the details”.

DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?

CL : I feel all kinds of emotions. When I design, it is like an extreme emotional roller coaster with constant ups and downs. It can be heaven and hell.

DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?

CL : The process of creation is like growing plants or raising a child. It starts as a seed. You have to water it and give it sunlight and nutrition. No matter how much expectation you have, you have no control over its life and nature. Life has its own course. All you can do is treat it with love and patience. When it finally grows up, you have a great feeling of accomplishment and relief. But you are not done as you begin to focus on future enhancements or derivatives of the design. It is a never ending process.

DI: What makes a design successful?

CL : A good design impresses you. As time goes by the impression may fade, but a great design touches your heart and stays with you forever. A great design always stands out, is very unique and perhaps one of a kind. A great design will also speak to you and will make you contemplate it. It may even touch your soul and solidify a place in your heart.

DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?

CL : Though there are standard check boxes to tick off, I also judge a design based on my instincts and feelings. Everything matters, so you have to look at the full picture. Whatever catches my eyes first. Sometimes it is color, sometimes it is the format, sometimes it is the titles, sometimes it is the story behind the work. It really happens every time and is not simple to explain. Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it grows on you.

DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?

CL : I believe music and art designs should serve a higher purpose. It can purify your body, mind and soul. It can also inspire, triggering the inner voice of creativity. As we traverse through this dark pandemic episode, music and art designs should provide intangible comfort on the spiritual level, to inspire hope and inner strength. I wish I can continue to elevate music and art to soothe and to induce our inner creativity, imagination, and explosiveness. Throughout history, people have used music and art to convey their beliefs, inner thoughts and emotions. Sacred music was composed for religious and societal influence. Music proved to be especially powerful in its use in courtship, prayer, worship, sacrifice, divination, and primitive rituals. One can understand how music and art can be extremely robust mediums that can help accomplish goals of significant importance. Nowadays, music and art is omnipresent and in my view, diluted, through mainstream entertainment, commercials, social media, and memes. I believe the role and responsibility of an artist is to refocus the unbounded potential of music and art for a higher purpose. As technology advances, we can imagine even greater possibilities to produce new innovative performing art. And we should embrace technology with a healthy blend of humanity’s warmth and meaning. Otherwise art will fall to the hollowness of AI or the shallowness of pop society. Artists should bring music and art back to its original high value and high importance state, where it may emanate profound influence and appeal.

DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?

CL : We expect advancements in design to continue at a speedy pace as we all live in the digital age. Artificial intelligence will become a very important part of our life. But we must try to better understand the limitations of technologies and from there we can do our best to work with it to create new innovative designs. I believe technology brings great possibilities to innovate new art and design. But technology should be blended with warmth, humanity and meaning. Otherwise we are no different than AI.

DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?

CL : I curated “Impression of Taiwan” in 2019, for the Art Taipei exposition. It is a collaborative effort led by the Egret Cultural and Educational Foundation. It features numerous artist works from ceramics, creative and cultural products, publications, new media interactive theater presentations, and music/visual performances. I also debuted XR “Obsession”, anew media experience. I also curated the Sacred Garden as a partner of the international Ars Electronica Festival 2021. Performing Art is the centerpiece of our garden. 
I am involved in a new production that will debut in 2022. Perhaps another exhibition may be possible in 2023.

DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?

CL : Classical music is the core of my inspiration. My nightly dreams are the main sources of my inspiration. However, anything from news, books, stories, paintings, to the people you meet can all be potential forms of indirect inspiration as well.

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?

CL : My style is unique, complex, diverse, and dramatic. Full of hidden meanings and stories. My favorite style of design is abstract because with abstract, there are neither rules nor limits. Everyone can have a different point of view. I notice my style has changed over time. But one thing that has never changed is my focus and courage to move out of my comfort zone to challenge myself to create something completely different from what I have done in the past. I find myself to be very well rounded and unpredictable. 
My style varies each time. It also depends on what kind of production and how complex the design is. There’s no set pattern and the design may evolve over time. My multimedia works have gone through several versions and generations. If you haven't noticed, allow me to point out that even great classical compositions in the past have gone through various versions. They may have been adapted, rearranged, and or recomposed for different instruments and combinations.

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?

CL : My country, Taiwan, is the soil of my mind and has a great influence on me. Taiwan is an island, abundant with precious resources and has been influenced by early explorers/settlers such as the Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. Taiwan is the nutrition and DNA of my creations. For example “Butterfly Orchid”, an award winning work, came to me in a dream after I had visited the Tainan Orchid Garden Exposition. Taiwan happens to be both the Kingdom of Butterflies and the Kingdom of Orchids. Youngsters always want to be away from home. But when you get old, people always want to go back to their homeland. It’s mother nature calling. The homeland will provide people with a strong, powerful foundation. People can be more focused, centered and rooted. The air, the soil, and the people are the direct influences. Each country has its own culture and uniqueness. But in order to broaden one's views, designers should be open in many aspect sand should become more worldly.

DI: How do you work with companies?

CL : Collaboration with varying artists from different fields is always a challenge. With many projects, the beginning is smooth with everyone on the same page. As individual tasks are completed in parallel towards the goal, you realize that each artist's perception of the end goal changes. As if we are all from different planets. This is amusing, but a reality. Knowing how to communicate with each artist is an art form in itself. Finding the right way of communication is the key to bringing the team together in order to get them on the same page and to keep them targeted in the right direction.

 I can be very demanding when it comes to work and creation. It’s very tough on my team because of my endless pursuit for perfection. I would sometimes feel guilty, but I am always deeply grateful for all their effort and devotion. As we all know, the talented ones are usually hard to handle. It’s not easy to work with talented people. Because they are individually unique and opinionated. As a leader, I often have to learn to compromise and let go. Because each production has its own schedule, deadline, budget and limit. Communicating with people is an art itself and in that area, I find myself constantly learning. As a dreamer, wherever the dream takes me that’s where I will be. As a leader, I have to keep myself grounded. It’s a conflict of interest. A constant battle with myself. This is the price I have to pay for being both an artist and leader.

DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?

CL : I usually follow my gut instincts and know that it can be hit or miss with no guarantee. Understanding the right state of the designer’s mind can be difficult. The real creative designers can be eccentric and prove difficult to communicate with. You have to learn how to bring out the best in them with their language not yours. Keen observation is the key.

DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?

CL : The inspiration of most of my works come from my dreams. These dreams become the muse that enables me to compose my music. Music is created first and through the expressive music, I begin to visualize what the music is communicating to me. The next step in my process is to amass the visuals that best explains what my music expresses. After which, the invisible sound becomes visible. Obviously, there are no set rules in my design process order. At times where I need to create music for a production theme, my work process is in reverse. But in all my works, I have found that all I need to do is to follow my heart and my instincts. That has always worked out for me.

DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?

CL : My grandfather’s paintings, my father’s calligraphy, my mom’s manuscript, my brother’s hand drawing cartoon, and my fashion designer friend’s leather jacket.

DI: Can you describe a day in your life?

CL : Classical music is my wake up call and lullaby. I start my day and end my night with Classical music. I usually do stretches and simple exercise day and night. I sometimes listen to the bible while I exercise. I teach piano and practice piano during the daytime. I do my creative works and compose wherever and whenever it comes to me. There’s no set schedule for creativity. I follow my mood a lot.

DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?

CL : Trying to outdo yourself is much harder and lonelier than you can ever imagine. So you must learn to relax from time to time and try to stay positive when you are down. Failure is the mother of success. So when you fail, don’t give up. All you need to do is keep on trying. I believe when one door closes, another one will be open for you.

DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?

CL : The positives are craving for new ideas. Like a child, always curious about everything and wanting to explore new territories. The negatives are constantly thinking and nonstop working. In a way it keeps you going and stimulated. Sometimes too much brainstorming can be exhausting.

DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?

CL : In general, there are no set rules for my design. I do try my best to make sure the structure, colors, proportions and dynamics are properly balanced. The simplest way to answer the questions is, as long as the design sounds, looks, and feels good. As to music composition design, I do start the blueprint with main themes. A theme is like the engine in the car, the heart of the body. I may have a primary theme and secondary theme. I develop themes and do all kinds of variations and transformations. I also build transitions and connecting bridges to combine the two themes. Sometimes I will reverse or twist the direction of themes or merge the themes. There are many different ways to play with the themes.

DI: What skills are most important for a designer?

CL : Always have an open heart and accept new things. Stay hungry, curious and focus! Never stop learning and constantly observe your surroundings which may be the important keys you need to unlock your creative success. Humbly learn everything you can from nature, history, and experts. Be bold and fearless! Embrace your uniqueness and stay true to yourself. Artists will always believe in themselves despite countless obstacles and criticisms thrown at them. Rules are made by people, so don’t be afraid to be different and break a few rules. Stay focused, work hard, play hard and create hard.

DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?

CL : Classical music, my Steinway piano, music scores, bible, color pencils, ipad and a MacBook Pro.

DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?

CL : I am poor at time management. I follow my mood a lot. It’s not very healthy. I tried to have a work schedule planned out. But I always end up changing my own schedule. When ideas hit me, I just work like crazy, like there’s no tomorrow. When I am out of juice, I begin to fade and will need to energize. I am always able to divert my attention to something else to recharge. For instance, singing, dancing, going to concerts, museums, hanging out with friends or traveling.

DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?

CL : Creating is like having a baby. It may take a long time just to get pregnant. The pregnancy cycle is long and hard. Sometimes you may even experience miscarriage. And you will have start all over again. But when the baby is delivered. The joy of giving birth to a new life is beyond words. 

Creating art is like a pregnancy and birth. It is a long arduous road, but when it bears fruit, you leave a legacy that may inspire future generations. 

DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?

CL : What’s drives you to become a designer? What’s your key to success? Where did you get all your ideas from?

DI: What was your most important job experience?

CL : Working with numerous experts from different fields at the theater. It opened my eyes to the process of executing and developing ideas. The experts’ words and wisdom are very inspiring and educational. Hands-on working experiences are definitely priceless.

DI: Who are some of your clients?

CL : Concert halls, theaters, museums, film and publication companies.

DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?

CL : I enjoy composing new music and new cross-art works. I enjoy creating something that is avant-garde, something that pushes the artistic design boundaries.

DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?

CL : I will continue to pursue new collaborative works on the global stage. I am both day dreamer and night dreamer. So wherever the dream takes me that’s where I will be.

DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?

CL : It depends on the project. If it's the music composition and music design I usually do it myself. If the work requires other experts, I will collaborate with a team of experts.

DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?

CL : I am part of a large production called “Nexen.” It will debut at the Taipei Art Performing Center in September. I’m working with a renowned director, a photographer, dancers , and visual artists. It’s a cross art collaboration involving multiple complex surrealistic scenes. There is acting, singing, dancing, and a piano performance in a baseball stadium sized performing art center with Audience seating in from the front of the stage through to the back. It’s a challenging endeavor encompassing three linked theaters with performances taking place simultaneously on all stages. It’s like a metaverse drama on stage. I am really looking forward to the final Outcome. 

DI: How can people contact you?

CL : Through email, facebook, Instagram or website.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?

CL : On behalf of the Egret Foundation, we are truly humbled and honored to receive the A’design Awards. The recognition from such a world renowned and prestigious competition fills us with great pride and achievement. Since the win, it has boosted our confidence in our ability to create works with international appeal. The award has undoubtedly fueled our drive to create even more meaningful art pieces in the future.