Abstract of an interview for a Chinese Design Magazine:
What products did you exhibit at SZIDF? Why did you choose to show them?
We are a very prolific company, at SZIDF we exhibited 40 products including health care devices, audio products, VR Glasses and mobile phone accessories. All were exhibited on our cardboard furniture: chairs, tables and libraries built for temporary events with 80% recycled material, which is 100% recyclable after the event
Which design of yours is your favorite so far?
I have favorite clients and favorite objects, usually it’s related to how much we were able to innovate in the design process. Of course we have cases of excellency and less interesting ones. But as usual “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
Your Chinese name is “雷小贝“, why did you choose this name?
This Chinese name was given by my first translator, I think this is a kind of tradition when you come to China. I’m a very tall and hulking person, for sure somebody who can remembered easily, and she thought this was a nice and funny euphemism. For sure it extorts a smile from everybody.
We heard that you were working at a design company when you came to China and now you have your own studio. Any influence to you since your role was changed?
At the beginning I had a partnership with a Chinese Company, the relation was not smooth at all: a general shortage of vision and lack of productivity that were not suitable to my way of working. When in Italy I had a fairly big studio to run and I was missing that a lot. Luckily it was a very short experience and helped me to understand very quickly what I didn’t want to do and where to put my efforts.
Can you tell us how you met OMatching and the cooperation?
I met OMatching at a very early stage looking for the solution to a problem. We were not looking for new clients or for help in communication (we are a Chinese company with some directors from Europe so the direct communication in Mandarin is not a problem at all). We were looking for a deeper interpretation of Chinese Design culture which for us is so different: business models, chain management, distribution channels are very peculiar here. OMatching intercepted this need very well and today I think they are the perfect partner to smoothen the communication and with them we can afford to focus on what we can do best, which is design.
I heard that you will be having a deep cooperation with OMatching. Could you disclose more?
We wanted to diversify from other foreign managed companies that are still thinking that Chinese Design culture is made up of patterns or traditional shapes to stick onto products. We wanted a more profound understanding of how consumers think and how we can fulfill their needs, OMatching gives us all the means to achieve that.
On top of that the speed of the platform in terms of quotations, contracts and access to documents is something that wins the Chinese clients’ fear of working with a foreign designer, because they know that their development chain is not going to be stuck due to communication problems.
The ideas of “People love that design idea” and “many people bought that product”. Which idea makes you more excited?
I’m much more exited by creating surprise, making somebody learn something new or change the way things are used. Frankly aesthetics and money are not my strongest focus.
18 years can be said to be a relatively long working experience. What do you think the charm of industrial design is?
I believe we have one of the best job in the world, but it’s been maltreated by lack of regulations and by the so called “sharing” economy which is often just copying. The fact that today everybody can design something and we ended in being submerged by what I call “design pollution” is something that makes me sad. Designers are important and can still change the world, but politics need to follow to protect intellectual property and punish those factories that are producing copied garbage that enriches few and doesn’t bring anything new but pollution.
Italy is known worldwide for “quality is more important than quantity”. Shenzhen is also building “Shenzhen Quality” in recent years. From a foreign designer’s point of view, what are the advantages of Shenzhen quality in industrial design?
Italy is nowadays too much sheltered in its “Made in Italy” concept or in its search for “total quality” without often giving any. Milan has been for years the city of design because of its industries and factories in the outskirts that were working with designers. Now this industrial environment is gone. In Shenzhen there is the perfect ecosystem to relive the same dream and the city is ready to become the next capital of design. The network of industries, suppliers, and manufacturing culture is ready to make the leap from being the factory of the world to become the factory of ideas for the world. In my personal opinion there is still a lot to do in terms of education and possibility to be connected and communicate properly with the outside.