Interview with Xinyue Geng from the United States

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Xinyue Geng

Xinyue Geng is an accomplished architectural designer and artist with a rich professional journey spanning mainland China, the UK, and the US. As an Architectural Designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), she has played a pivotal role in realizing landmark projects, earning global recognition and prestigious awards for her groundbreaking designs.

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.
I'm Xinyue Geng, an accomplished architectural designer and artist with a rich professional journey across mainland China, the UK, and the US. As an Architecture Designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF). I have played a pivotal role in realizing landmark projects, earning global recognition and prestigious awards for her groundbreaking designs.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become an architectural / interior designer?

Growing up in diverse cultural environments, I witnessed firsthand how the built environment influenced people's interactions and perceptions. This sparked a curiosity within me to explore the intersection of creativity, innovation, and human connection through design.

At the same time, my decision to become a designer and artist was driven by a desire to contribute positively to the world around me. I believe that through thoughtful and purposeful design, we have the opportunity to create spaces that not only inspire and uplift but also foster meaningful connections and enhance the quality of life for individuals and communities alike.

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

I am proud to be a part of KPF, a distinguished architectural firm headquartered in New York City, renowned for its global reach and groundbreaking designs. As an architectural designer, I play a pivotal role in shaping the vision and execution of large-scale international projects.

Collaborating closely with multidisciplinary teams, I contribute innovative ideas and expertise to create architectural solutions that not only captivate aesthetically but also champion public rights and equality.

4What does “design” mean to you?
To me, design embodies the essence of problem-solving through creativity. It encompasses the process of identifying challenges, understanding user needs, and innovative-ly crafting solutions. Whether it's architectural structures, products, interfaces, or identities, design goes beyond aesthetics to prioritize functionality, usability, sustainability, and impact. Design is the bridge between imagination and realization, where creativity meets practicality.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

My favorite type of design is that which fosters connections, whether between people or through evoking emotional experiences. I'm drawn to designs that facilitate meaningful interactions, spark connections, and resonate with individuals on a deep emotional level.

Whether it's creating spaces that encourage social engagement and collaboration or designing experiences that evoke a range of emotions, I find immense value in designs that bring people together and enrich their lives. This type of design not only enhances the human experience but also contributes to building stronger communities and fostering empathy and understanding among individuals. Ultimately, I believe that design has the power to unite us, inspire us, and enhance our sense of connection to each other and the world around us.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

Good design begins with a clear and thoughtful starting point. At the same time, it involves daring to think outside the box, challenging conventions, and exploring new possibilities. By pushing boundaries and embracing innovation, good design has the power to break free from the constraints of tradition and create fresh narratives that captivate and inspire.

Whether it's through novel concepts, unconventional approaches, or cutting-edge technologies, good design sparks curiosity, ignites imagination, and opens doors to new realms of possibility. It invites us to explore uncharted territories, rethink established norms, and envision a future where creativity knows no bounds.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
My design philosophy revolves around creating spaces and experiences. I prioritize connection and communication, aiming to craft spaces that resonate with their natural surroundings and cultural context. By fostering a sense of belonging and interaction, my designs seek to create environments that inspire and enrich the lives of those who inhabit them.
8Tell us about your design process.
My design process is based on research and analysis during the initial stages. I believe in laying a strong foundation by understanding the project context, user needs, and relevant factors. Additionally, I enjoy employing interdisciplinary approaches to foster divergent thinking, allowing for innovative and creative solutions to emerge. I leverage emerging technologies as integral components of my design process, recognizing their potential to enhance functionality, aesthetics, and user experience.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

I learned about Scatter Perspective (Multi Focus Perspective) when I was studying traditional Chinese landscape painting. Although this painting method is not accurate, it may be closer to people’s actual feelings. This kind of painting can describe a scene from more aspects including narrative and emotion, without being restricted by a single point of view and time.

My tutor, artist Hongyi encouraged me to put aside the accuracy of perspective and shadows, and then try to draw the invisible, such as the mountains behind the mountains, the stories in the mountains, and even the stories that happened at different times. In this process, the atmosphere, experience, and emotions of the author can also be delivered. My understanding of architecture is similar to that of Scatter Perspective painting. Through narrative expression across time and space dimensions, the atmosphere and emotion are reproduced in architectural spaces.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the NY Architectural Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Thank you! Winning the 2024 NY Architectural Design Awards is a tremendous honor. It's a validation of our hard work, creativity, and dedication to exceptional design. This recognition inspires us to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation and delivering meaningful experiences through my work. Thank you for this incredible honor.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the NY Architectural Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The winning project entered into the 2024 NY Architectural Design Awards is a collection of minimalist living spaces nestled adjacent to Reynisfjara Beach. Inspired by the stark beauty of the surrounding black volcanic landscape, each space serves as a sanctuary for travelers seeking refuge amidst the rugged terrain. The design features a sturdy exterior shell juxtaposed with an inviting, warm interior core, reflecting the resilient essence of the local community.

Drawing inspiration from Reynisfjara Beach's obsidian sands and aura of mystery, the project seamlessly merges with its natural surroundings to offer a bespoke, immersive experience for hikers, weaving tales of endurance and comfort in a captivating environment. I entered this project into the 2024 NY Architectural Design Awards because it beautifully encapsulates my design ethos.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The biggest challenge with this project was integrating the design into the local environment without disrupting the overall integrity of the surrounding landscape while still providing an immersive living experience. We had to carefully consider how to blend modern design elements with the rugged natural beauty of Reynisfjara Beach. However, overcoming these hurdles allowed us to create a seamless and captivating experience for residents, making the effort incredibly rewarding.
13How has winning an award developed your practice/career?
Winning an award has been a transformative experience for my practice and career, helping me gain recognition, expand my network, and elevate the quality and impact of my design work.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

What I love most about our industry is the boundless creativity and innovation it offers. Every project presents an opportunity to explore new ideas, experiment with cutting-edge technologies, and push the boundaries of design. Moreover, the impact and influence of our work are incredibly rewarding. Design has the power to shape the way people live, work, and interact with their surroundings.

Whether it's creating spaces that foster community and connection or implementing sustainable practices that benefit the environment, I find great fulfillment in knowing that my work has a meaningful impact on society.

Lastly, I cherish the collaborative nature of our industry. Working with multidisciplinary teams allows me to learn from others, leverage diverse perspectives, and create truly holistic solutions.

15 What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
The rich cultural tapestry of my country serves as a wellspring of inspiration for designers. With diverse traditions, languages, and customs, there's a wealth of influences to draw from, resulting in designs that are vibrant, eclectic, and globally resonant.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

Sustainability will continue to be a focal point, with designers increasingly prioritizing eco-friendly materials and practices to minimize environmental impact.

Digitalization will revolutionize the design process, enabling designers to leverage technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality for more immersive and efficient design experiences.

Human-centered design will gain traction, emphasizing empathy and inclusivity to create designs that better meet the needs of diverse users.

Collaboration across disciplines will become more common, as designers work alongside experts from fields such as psychology and environmental science to inform their designs.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring NY Architectural Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Be persistent! Success in the design industry often requires perseverance. Don't be discouraged by setbacks, and keep pushing forward with determination and passion for your craft.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Design communities and forums! Joining online design communities and forums allows you to connect with fellow designers, share ideas, seek feedback, and collaborate on projects.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
Maintaining curiosity is essential for designers. By staying curious, you can continually explore new ideas, technologies, and methods, pushing the boundaries of your creativity. Curiosity also fuels innovation, helping you discover unique insights and perspectives that breathe new life into your designs. So, whether it's in the design process or in life, keeping curiosity alive is crucial!
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Peter Zumthor has been a significant source of inspiration for me in the field of architecture. His work is characterized by a profound respect for materials, craftsmanship, and the sensory experience of space. Zumthor's buildings evoke a sense of timelessness and serenity, often blurring the boundaries between architecture and nature.

What truly inspires me about Zumthor is his unwavering commitment to creating architecture that deeply resonates with the human spirit. His emphasis on the emotional and experiential aspects of design reminds me of the importance of empathy and intuition in the creative process. Zumthor's approach to architecture encourages me to question conventions, embrace simplicity, and strive for authenticity in my own work.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
I would encourage you to embrace curiosity, passion, and authenticity in everything you do. Keep exploring, keep pushing boundaries, and stay true to yourself and your vision.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
As we conclude the interview, I'd like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences. Design is not just a profession for me; it's a passion and a lifelong journey of exploration and growth. I believe in the transformative power of design to enrich lives, foster connections, and shape a better future for all.

Winning Entry

The Obsidian | 2024

The Obsidian | Xingyue Geng

Nestled adjacent to Reynisfjara Beach, this collection of minimalist living spaces stands as a sanctuary for travelers, drawing design inspiration …
(Read more at NY Architectural Design Awards)

Xinyue Geng

Xinyue Geng is an accomplished architectural designer and artist with a rich professional journey spanning mainland China, the UK, and the US. As an Architectural Designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), she has played a pivotal role in realizing landmark projects, earning global recognition and prestigious awards for her groundbreaking designs.

The 2024 NY Architectural Design Awards is proud to present its elevated winners in its inaugural season!