Interview with LiYu Cheng, Design Director of Studio X4, TW

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LiYu Cheng

As the Design Director of Studio X4, Cheng solves problems using everyday experiences and create authenticity in all his designs.

LiYu Cheng | Studio X4 | MUSE Awards

Interview with the 2019 MUSE Design Awards Winner - LiYu Cheng

1What does “design” mean to you?

Constantly solving problems and resolving to practice will make the outcome a good design.

2What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

The paradigm of UI and graphic design had a radical change and became simpler in the past 10 years. Even though space design is far from it, I prefer simplify complicated issues and I think it’s the trend in the future. My principle of design is “less is more”, meaning that we uncover the essence of things to make them less. And I also believe in “form follows function”. Only the style that truly solves problems makes the product last longer. We have to recognize which of them are design techniques and which ones are the style. Authentic styles have their own implied meaning.

3Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

We try to use model thinking to meet the requests of our clients not only aesthetically, but also in everyday experience, including five senses, and then the “style” can be formed. We are all humans, so these artificial elements would have our characteristics inscribed. The style between the user’s requests and the way of working it out makes the designer’s style.

4Tell us about your design process.

Some people would see a project the key in their life, but sometimes it’s only a slightest part of it. We have to reconsider it from a long-term perspective. What we do in the project “MASTECH Workspace” is no more than fixing a bug in the machine. The company is like a robot or organs in human body, and our mission is to deal with overlaying issues between RD/PM, and accounting/sales departments. The reformation of the layout could reconnect the people so employees could work more efficiently.

5Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Taiwan is a place with complicated histories. Since the migration of KMT to Taiwan in 1949, people lived and mixed with the former Fujian immigrants. After 2 to 3 generations, various cultures integrated. Due to its complexity, sometimes we’re not sure which one we belong to. We are more like the mirror inherently. We switch between different cultures and eventually develop our own one. This is the most distinctive part of culture in Taiwan.

6Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Technology improves every day. it is not necessary to comprehend the Pythagoras theorem but it affects our daily life. We don’t necessarily know the whole theory but we can “package” it. The field of space design is so large that one can’t master it by him/herself. It’s crucial for us to learn what other people do in UI design: packaging the knowledge and spreading it out. Back then, when we were using software like Maya and 3ds Max, we have to learn 500 commands out of 3300 to draw at will. After the invention of iPhone, the UX design turns simpler and more functional-oriented. However, there’s still a lot in space design that needs to be simplify. Architecture needs time to take form, its development is subsequent to other arts like photography and graphic design, so people in this field should minimize the barriers of it in order to make everyone practice it with ease.

7If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Award submitter, what advice would you give them?

There has been a high turnover rate in design industry. Only a quarter of my college classmates still work in this field. Talent is a necessary but insufficient condition for a student to be a good designer. Most people see designers as people who do the drawing with elegance and work out splendid plans in the office. While, the process of spatial design includes so many aspects of professional skills and tasks that we end up utterly exhausted from overworking.

Looking back, the ultimate goal of our education should raise an all-rounder instead of a dreamer unacquainted with construction techniques and practices. How could we change the shape of a column without knowing its construction?

The winner projects of Pritzker Architecture Prize in recent years are from local or small studios, which tells us these designs stand out from the rest for their quality rather than in scale.

Thus, here comes the two extremes of higher education in architecture: A part of graduate students put the theory they learned into practice by learning woodwork, machinery and plasterwork at school.

On the other hand, some students do some dramatic drawing of curving structure but not knowing how to build it. It’s like a heritage of the 1980’s crush on outer space exploration in Japan, which was an epitome of time indeed. However, most of the design wasn’t always functional.

That’s why so many students join film industries to do scene design. It’s easier for them to carry out fancy shapes and forms in a gravity-free space.

Within these two extremes, I prefer to sit on the fence. For me, the priority of design is to solve the problems and resolve to complete.

I encourage students to follow in masters’ steps like Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. At the age of 20 to 40, they were designing houses. They engaged in large projects and commercial buildings only when they were mature enough. This way, you can handle different scales in every new case, eventually knowing which one suits you most. We will lose the delicacy of space design if everyone dives into large scale projects.

Winning Entries

MASTECH Workspace | 2019

MASTECH Workspace | Studio X4 | MUSE Awards
MASTECH is one of the world’s largest suppliers of electronic measuring instruments. This project aims to combine leisure activity, exercising and recreation...
(read more at Muse Awards)

Project 4 | 2019

Project 4 | Studio X4 | MUSE Awards
To match with the building mass, the interior material is mainly composed of natural stone and wood grain elements...
(read more at Muse Awards)

Studio X4

Studio X4 is a design studio + workshop based in Taipei, Taiwan. Founded in 2010, Studio X4 consists of 6 problem solvers engaging in architecture, interior space and product design.