Interview with Andy Lee from RIGHT GROUP CO., LTD | Monifilm

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Andy Lee

A deep admiration for smart and simple designs, lead designer, Andy Lee was intrigued by how creating products from using innovative technology and smart concepts to solve the modern problems of today.

Interview With The 2023 NY Product Design Awards Winner – Andy Lee

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.

I am the founder and lead product designer of Right Group CO., Ltd. (hereafter RG). RG originally started as a full-service design and printing company back in 1985 where we established our primary expertise in various printing coatings. But in 1995, we saw an untapped and growing market on lens and screen protector for electronics products like cameras, hand held PDA and mobile phones. We then decided to leverage and expand our expertise from print coatings to optical film coating as well to leverage on this trend.

This strategic decision pays off when Apple’s iPhone 3 took the world by surprise with a super low price of USD199 during 2008, causing a major market disruption and acute increase of ‘full screen’ smart phones users. Since then, Right Group had successfully been among the very first to develop and capture the market for products and solutions ranging from high end tempered-glass for smart phones, tablets, laptops and gadgets, to hybrid compound material and specialize optical film screen protection.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a product designer?

I have always loved smart and simple designs, be it a simple piece of artwork or a smart product I can find in the market. When RG was still a printing company, my interest was never only on the printing aspect of my business, I am also very curious and interested on what my clients do for their business that requires my printing service. The idea of creating a viable product from scratch using innovative technology and smart concepts to solve a problem always intrigued me.

The boom of the consumer handheld devices in the mid 90s gave me a chance to fulfill this long calling of mine which is where I started our flagship brand name Monifilm. It also when I began my journey as a full-fledged designer and I was also heavily involved in the research, design and development aspect of screen protection related product.

To me, the A to Z of designing a product is a very challenging yet enjoyable process, especially when the end product is well received by the user the design is intended for.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Right Group Co, Ltd was originally established in 1985 as a full service design and printing company. In 1995, we made a strategic business revamp into the specialised optical film screen protection industry with our flagship brand name Monifilm. Over the years, we had successfully designed and developed multiple award winning solutions and products like our Xapphire Tempered Glass and Patented Snap To Hide Magnetic Privacy Screen Protector.

We are now one of the leading screen protector manufacturer and developer of screen protection products and optical film solution for consumer electronic and industrial applications with a network of clients and business associates that stretches across the United States, the Middle East, Europe, Japan and Asia.

As a General Manager, my main job internally is to make sure my team have the resources and environment to work their utmost best. Externally, I try to build and maintain a good relationship with various suppliers. But the most enjoyable part of my work is being the lead designer! Apart from my own input, a big part of my work is to bring out and integrate various talent and idea of my design team to create a workable and market driven product.

4What does “design” mean to you?
Design is a skill that combines creativity, problem-solving skills, innovation and the undaunted passion to make a positive impact with the end product. It’s about shaping out the personal insightful idea to the world and expressing the real feelings through materializing the idea and feelings to become a product .
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
The "Less is More” design concept comes with great social responsibility has always my favorite. I have always admire individuals and corporations who make a conscious effort in using minimum resources to create the right mix of usability, functionality and aestheticism to enhance the user experience and improve and make people's lives easier in the long run.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
First and foremost, a good design needs to human-centered with a deep understanding user needs, behaviors and preferences. But a GREAT design can do more than just that. Great design can influence behaviors, improve and enhanced efficiency and overall user experience, and ultimately shape the way people interact with technology, products and make the world around them sustainable in the long run.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
  • Solutions to pressing market needs and wants.
  • Smart yet meaningful designs that are intuitive to use.
  • Closely aligned with intended user' goals and aspirations.
  • Built to last for long-term sustainability.
  • Premium yet eco-friendly material and process.
8Tell us about your design process.

Our design begins with identifying trending or pressing consumer needs with constant market research, followed by meaningful feedback from our existing B2B clients. From there, our team would begin to brainstorm on all kinds of possible solutions that are not only based on the expertise we own but also other resources and expertise that we may need to expand.

The most challenging parts will be the ‘Proof of Concept’ where apart from vigorous experiment, strict testing and meaningful feedback from both our supplier and clients, we also need to do the necessary intellectual property protection throughout the product incubation period.

Once everything is set, we will begin a ‘pre-launch’ phase where we will begin all the quality and safety certifications and we would need to produce small quantities for our most trusted clients. This would also be the time where we would participate in international design awards to ‘test out the waters’. When need be, we will continue to recalibrate and tie up any loose ends with more testing before we prepare for the full launch of the design to the market.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

Located in an area with a hot and wet summer, a rainy winter, autumn of hurricanes and it is also within the area of earthquakes, most of the people in my home country are strong believers in respecting and adapting to nature and often seen as cultured, hardworking yet tough and vigilant.

This is why it is like a second nature of me to adopt a more ‘eco-conscious’ and holistic approach to my design, making sure whenever possible, cutting all waste of unnecessary resources with sustainable methodology to create the end product.

Yes, every little detail including environmental change and education around us has impact on our design process and thoughts.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

We are very grateful to the prestigious jury in recognizing our designing efforts. Winning the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, especially in the Social Design for Sustainability means a great deal to our design team because the winning product [Snap To Hide Eco Flex | Antivirus Magnetic Privacy Screen Protector] was our very first ‘Stay Clean + Go Green’ design initiatives project we started in response to the challenging pandemic times.

Winning this award also serves as an important milestone on how our team perseveres when facing great adversity during tough times. The 2023 NY Product Design Awards is also the very first award we received from New York, United States, the birth place for the world’s most creative and leading designs. Again, we are very honored and grateful.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Snap to Hide Eco Flex is the market’s first Eco-Friendly Magnetic Privacy Screen Protector that is made from Monifilm's latest EcoFlex Technology.

This technology uses biodegradable triacetate cellulose or TAC as core material to reduce 80% of carbon emission during production and is integrated with Monifilm's award-winning “Snap to Hide” patent in a mere 0.32m, full flat ultra slim unibody design. It provides an easy & seamless screen privacy protection with cutting-edge features like anti-bacteria, anti-blue lights, anti-reflections, anti-glare, anti-smudge & a 70% screen transmittance clarity.

As mentioned earlier, this is a project we hold very close to our hearts. We decided to enter this award because the NY Product Design Awards was among the few who has a Social Design category. We feel this is a very good match for us to enter the award.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The unprecedented market disruption from the pandemic had challenge us to rethink our corporate product design approach to focus not only on product core functionality but also on adding health, safety and eco-friendly elements to the design mix.

Snap to Hide EcoFlex magnetic privacy screen protector integrated two of our otherwise very different product concept and created something very different from what we had been doing for years.

Screen privacy & anti-bacteria/virus screen requires 2 rather very different expertise. Adding to these challenges are the unforeseen lockdowns & quarantine regulations from different parts of the world. We realized the need to make full use of any remote working technology we can get and started an AD-HOC team to quickly integrate resources from both teams and supplier to accelerate and get back to the momentum of design and development.

In short, this is an ambitious design where we require new focus on adding anti-virus, anti-bacteria and biodegradable core material in response to what we believed to be the next emerging post pandemic trends.

13How has winning an award developed your practice/career?
Winning a design award apart from giving all the team members a sense of pride and honor to their hard work, it helped us have a better grasp of whether we are heading in the right direction of the design trend. It also helps our design capability to be known to a wider reach of people, opening up new gateways of opportunities to further our pursue for great market driven design.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
  • Ability to solve real world problems with creativity, innovation and technology.
  • Provide meaningful and intuitive user experience with product that are both eye-pleasing and useful.
  • Opportunity to add value to the economy and society as a whole.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
For years, my country has always been a significant player in the global design industry, especially in areas such as electronics, technology and product design. It is a place that provides a very well-tuned collaborative ecosystem that brings together designers, manufacturers and industry experts. With easy access to a wide range of resources, including prototyping facilities, material suppliers, and manufacturing expertise, designers can enjoy real freedom in their innovations and creativity to turn their design concepts into tangible products more efficiently.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
The design industry will be gearing towards a more seamless integration of human driven design, IOT technology, sustainability, and ad-hoc collaboration. Product design will need to go beyond just the aesthetic look and functionality but also need to create meaningful, impactful, and sustainable products for the future. Staying agile, flexible, well informed and educated on all these emerging trends will become a prerequisite for any designers to stay ahead of the game.
17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Product design will need to go beyond just the aesthetic look and functionality. It needs to create meaningful, impactful, and sustainable products for the future.
18What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Function matters. Quality matters. Beauty matters. Human touch matters. Just like the 4 wheels of a car, you need all four to work together to move far ahead. This is very true in design, work and life as well.

Winning Entry

Monifilm ECO-Flex Magnetic Privacy Anti-Bac Screen Protector | 2023

Monifilm ECO-Flex Magnetic Privacy Anti-Bac Screen Protector | NY Product Design Awards
Snap To Hide Eco Flex is the world first Anti-Bacteria Magnetic Privacy Screen Protector that uses Bio Degradable Triacetate Cellulose or TAC as core …
(Read more at NY Product Design Awards)

Andy Lee

A deep admiration for smart and simple designs, lead designer, Andy Lee was intrigued by how creating products from using innovative technology and smart concepts to solve the modern problems of today.

Read more about this interview with Steve Ko from Anaccord Electronic Technology, the Silver Winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards.