Interview with Tao Chen of TAO Design Studio

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Tao Chen

Tao Chen, the owner of TAO Design Studio, leads a firm focused on interior design, specializing in creating innovative and aesthetically pleasing spaces. He has been passionately practicing interior design for 18 years, since graduating from college in 2006, continuously honing his skills and evolving his creative approach.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.
I have been passionately practicing interior design for 18 years, ever since I graduated from college in 2006, continually honing my skills and evolving my creative approach.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
Inspired by my uncle, an architectural designer who created the city's landmark library, I developed a strong desire to follow in his footsteps. His influence fueled my ambition to become a great designer, aspiring to have my own work known and recognized by everyone.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
Our primary business revolves around interior design, where we specialize in creating innovative and aesthetically pleasing spaces.
4What does “design” mean to you?

"Design" for me, it is my love since I was a teenager, and it is the core of my work at the moment. In the long run, it may be a way for me to realize the value of my life and the value of the society. In terms of life value, I can let people recognize me through design.

It is impossible for people to live forever, but my design works may still be there after a hundred years, and these will be the proof that I have come to this world. In terms of social value, I hope that through my design projects can bring help to the people in need.

I once took over a project for a home for the elderly, the audience group of this project is a group of elderly people, I will give full consideration to the needs of the elderly in my design, consider a more convenient and more practical humanized design, so that they can feel comfortable and convenient in this space, and feel the special care and attention to the elderly.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
I don't have a favorite design style; design, much like other forms of art such as music, transcends boundaries. There is no single "best" design—there are refined, sophisticated creations as well as those that are approachable and grounded, each with its own unique appeal.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
For me, a "good" design is one that adapts to contemporary trends without losing its cultural heritage and is forward looking. It should meet the aesthetics and needs of the current society, and it should be able to withstand the precipitation of the years, and at the same time, our era is constantly changing and advancing rapidly, a "good" design should be able to keep up with the changes of the times, and not to be eliminated quickly in the world of the future.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
My design style predominantly revolves around a mix-and-match approach, seamlessly blending various styles and languages. I avoid adhering to a single design style throughout a project, opting instead to create a harmonious fusion. I aim to leave a memorable element in each design project, ensuring that my work has a distinct "marking point" that serves as my unique signature.
8Tell us about your design process.

I usually start with communication, I will communicate with my clients many times to understand the real needs of the space users, get as much information as possible, then disassemble and categorize, divide the space, the functional needs to determine the layout of the space, and I usually use hand-drawing to do this step.

Next, I will have a brainstorming session with my partners, so that we can discuss and brainstorm together, combine different ideas and thoughts, find a main line of design direction, and then proceed to the next design work. Once the design direction is established, it is time for the three-dimensional representation. I will first conceptualize a preliminary conceptual model, and then proceed to the detailed drawing, and finally form the design work.

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

Of course, there are. On the one hand, Chinese traditional culture can provide me with colorful visual elements and design concepts that can be skillfully used in my designs. On the other hand, Chinese traditional culture can provide historical background and cultural connotation for my creations, so that the designs have profound cultural meaning and connotation.

Overall, Chinese traditional culture has a great influence on me. Chinese traditional culture is a historical culture with national characteristics and unique style that has been changed and formed through the times; design is an activity of envisioning, planning, planning, budgeting, etc., which is a creative activity carried out by human beings in order to achieve a certain specific purpose; traditional culture is a starting point and a source of modern art and design, and the integration of both of them can bring new opportunities.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
First of all, it is definitely an honor to receive this award, which is motivating for me and my team. The design work is recognized by a professional platform in the industry, which is a kind of recognition of our design ability. From a business point of view, this may also bring us better benefits, the recognition of our professional ability by our regular customers will increase, and the potential customer base will inadvertently have a professional recognition of us.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2024 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

I chose this project to participate in the MUSE Design Awards, first of all, because I understood the conditions and requirements in advance, and the work I chose first of all meets the conditions.

Secondly, I personally believe that the client of this project and his family is a typical type of family in China, a three-generation family, which is very representative of the family structure. In our country, there are often three generations living in a large space, and it is very difficult for many designers to satisfy the functional and emotional needs of the three different age groups, which is what many designers in China encounter in the design of domestic decoration space nowadays.

This project reflects my different design ideas in different spaces, not only to give a space to meet the three generations can be together, but also to focus on the design of their respective private space, in the public area can enhance the interaction and connection between family members, personal area is suitable for the establishment of their own independent world, to meet their personal needs.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The red rotating staircase is the highlight of the project and the most controversial point, it takes up a large area and is in the center of the house, at first I was worried that my homeowners would not be able to accept this design.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
The sense of achievement of winning the award gives me a more benign feeling psychologically. Winning the award is a kind of recognition of my professional ability, and it will also enrich my resume and give me a stronger endorsement in my future development.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

1. The ability to constantly challenge myself.

2. The ability to constantly learn new things that keep me learning.

3. Endless possibilities.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

I believe that China's uniqueness in the design industry stems primarily from its rich cultural heritage, which spans over five thousand years. The vastness of China's landscape and its countless traditional cultures, coupled with its status as a multi-ethnic nation, contribute to a diverse and vibrant cultural tapestry.

This depth and breadth of culture provide designers with a wealth of historical background and cultural connotation, offering rich design elements that inspire creativity and innovation. Consequently, Chinese designers can produce work that is both profound and culturally significant.

Moreover, the country's advancements in science and technology have greatly influenced the design industry. Technological progress has equipped designers with efficient tools such as digitalization and big data analysis, which help in understanding user needs.

Additionally, the maturity of the domestic manufacturing industry supports the practical realization of design projects. Lastly, China's economic growth and stable, healthy social environment create a favorable setting for design creation, allowing designers to thrive and innovate.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I think the future development direction of the design industry would be the following:

Sustainable design: As the concern for global environmental issues continues to increase, sustainable design will become an important direction for design in the future. Designers will pay more attention to the use of environmentally friendly materials, reduce energy consumption, enhance the product life cycle and other aspects to reduce the damage and adverse impact on the environment.

Digital design: With the continuous improvement of technology, digitalization will be widely used in various industries in the future. Designers can use computer software, AI technology, etc., to design more conveniently and complete the design performance more efficiently.

Personalized design: The word private customization has been popular in the design industry for a long time, with the development of custom manufacturing technology, as well as the arrival of the era of big data analysis, designers can analyze the user's personal preferences and characteristics through big data, to provide more accurate design solutions.

Emotional Design: As science and technology continue to advance, people's lives will become increasingly convenient, and access to material goods will become easier. In the future, there will be a greater focus on emotional value and spiritual experiences. Designers will place more emphasis on understanding and catering to people's true emotions.

By utilizing elements such as color, lighting, materials, and ambiance, designers will create products and environments that evoke emotional resonance and interactivity. Emotional design enhances user satisfaction and fosters a deeper emotional connection, ultimately creating a more humanized and enriching design experience.

These are just a few of the trends I've observed in the future of the design industry, and the actual direction of development will be influenced by a number of social, cultural and technological factors.

17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

I would first recommend them to learn about the major design awards at home and abroad, and what are the requirements, such as the MUSE Design Award, to measure their own level in the industry by understanding the requirements for participation, so as to motivate themselves to be more sophisticated in design.

We also recommend some design exchange forums, where we can communicate and learn from each other, and listen to different designers' understanding and views on design, which can help you develop your own thinking and vision.

Will even recommend some opportunities to study abroad, go to other countries and regions to study and research, the cultural background of different countries, the design of the breeding will be different, not as good as read a million books and travel ten thousand miles, the design of this road is not a closed-door car, it is unlimited creativity and possibilities.

18Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I consistently spend at least half an hour each day reading or browsing design-related websites and publications. This habit stems from a persistent sense of urgency to stay informed and ahead in my field, though I haven't shared this routine with anyone. I believe that to appear effortless in front of others, one must put in significant effort behind the scenes.
19Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My friend Xu Wei, he usually gives me some pie-in-the-sky ideas, and also tells me some of his understanding and views on design. When I encounter bottlenecks in my design, I often talk to him, and I am able to capture some new design ideas in my communication with him.
20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Talent makes up 99% of the equation, and it is the 1% of dedication and persistence that determines success or failure.

Winning Entry

Doing Nothing | 2024

Doing Nothing | Tao Chen

The name "Doing Nothing " is from the wisdom of life inspired by discussions between the designer and the client. …
(Read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Tao Chen

Tao Chen, the owner of TAO Design Studio, leads a firm focused on interior design, specializing in creating innovative and aesthetically pleasing spaces. He has been passionately practicing interior design for 18 years, since graduating from college in 2006, continuously honing his skills and evolving his creative approach.

Read more about this interview TA Design Studio, the Silver Winners of the 2024 MUSE Design Awards.