Interview with Xinyue Geng of Kohn Pedersen Fox

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Xinyue Geng

Xinyue Geng is an experienced architectural designer and artist with a diverse professional background spanning mainland China, the UK, and the United States. Currently, she applies her expertise at KPF (Kohn Pedersen Fox), a prestigious architectural firm based in New York.

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 United States. Currently, I contribute my expertise at KPF (Kohn Pedersen Fox), a renowned architectural firm headquartered in New York.

In my role, I focus on delivering innovative designs for significant international projects. My passion lies in seamlessly integrating cutting-edge technologies to redefine architectural landscapes and elevate spatial experiences.

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

Having grown up in diverse cultural environments, I saw firsthand how the built environment shapes people's interactions and perceptions. This ignited a curiosity within me to explore the intersection of creativity, innovation, and human connection through design.

My decision to become a designer and artist was also driven by a desire to make a positive impact on the world. I believe that thoughtful and purposeful design can create spaces that inspire and uplift, 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 part of KPF, a distinguished architectural firm based in New York City, known for its global reach and groundbreaking designs. As an architectural designer, I play a crucial role in shaping the vision and execution of large-scale international projects.

Working closely with multidisciplinary teams, I bring innovative ideas and expertise to create architectural solutions that are not only aesthetically captivating but also advocate for public rights and equality.

4What does “design” mean to you?

For me, design epitomizes the art of problem-solving through creativity. It involves identifying challenges, understanding user needs, and crafting innovative solutions.

Whether dealing with architectural structures, products, interfaces, or brand identities, design transcends aesthetics, prioritizing functionality, usability, sustainability, and impact. It acts as a bridge between imagination and realization, where creativity intersects with practicality.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I am particularly passionate about designs that foster connections, whether by bringing people together or evoking emotional experiences. I am drawn to designs that facilitate meaningful interactions, spark connections, and resonate deeply with individuals.

Creating spaces that encourage social engagement and collaboration or designing experiences that evoke a range of emotions is where I find the most value. Such designs not only enhance the human experience but also contribute 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 starts with a clear and thoughtful foundation. Simultaneously, it requires the courage to think outside the box, challenge conventions, and explore new possibilities. By pushing boundaries and embracing innovation, good design can break free from traditional constraints and create captivating and inspiring narratives.

Through novel concepts, unconventional approaches, or cutting-edge technologies, good design sparks curiosity, ignites imagination, and opens doors to new realms of possibility. It encourages us to explore uncharted territories, rethink established norms, and envision a future where creativity is boundless.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
My design philosophy centers on creating spaces and experiences that emphasize connection and communication. I aim to craft environments that resonate with their natural surroundings and cultural context, fostering a sense of belonging and interaction. My designs strive to inspire and enrich the lives of those who inhabit them.
8Tell us about your design process.

My design process begins with thorough research and analysis in the initial stages. I believe in establishing a strong foundation by understanding the project's context, user needs, and other relevant factors.

Furthermore, I enjoy using interdisciplinary approaches to encourage divergent thinking, leading to innovative and creative solutions. I incorporate 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 discovered Scatter Perspective (Multi-Focus Perspective) while studying traditional Chinese landscape painting. Although this technique is not precise, it often resonates more with people's true feelings. This method allows a scene to be depicted from multiple perspectives, including narrative and emotional aspects, without being constrained by a single point of view or moment in time.

My tutor, artist Hongyi, encouraged me to set aside the accuracy of perspective and shadows and to attempt to draw the invisible, such as the mountains behind the mountains, the stories within them, and events occurring at different times. Through this process, the atmosphere, experience, and emotions of the artist are conveyed.

My understanding of architecture parallels Scatter Perspective painting, as it involves narrative expression across time and space to recreate atmosphere and emotion in architectural spaces.

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?
Thank you! Winning the 2024 MUSE Design Awards is an incredible honor. It validates our hard work, creativity, and dedication to exceptional design. This recognition motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation and delivering meaningful experiences through our work. Thank you for this remarkable honor.
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?

The project that won at the 2024 MUSE Design Awards is a series of minimalist living spaces situated near Reynisfjara Beach. Inspired by the stark beauty of the black volcanic landscape, each space provides a sanctuary for travelers seeking refuge in the rugged terrain. The design boasts a robust exterior shell paired with a warm, inviting interior, mirroring the resilient spirit of the local community.

Drawing inspiration from the obsidian sands and mysterious aura of Reynisfjara Beach, the project seamlessly blends with its natural surroundings to offer a bespoke, immersive experience for hikers. It tells stories of endurance and comfort in a captivating environment. I submitted this project to the 2024 MUSE Design Awards because it perfectly encapsulates my design philosophy.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The greatest challenge of this project was integrating the design into the local environment without compromising the integrity of the surrounding landscape, while still offering an immersive living experience.

We needed to thoughtfully blend modern design elements with the rugged natural beauty of Reynisfjara Beach. Overcoming these obstacles enabled us to create a seamless and captivating experience for residents, making the effort immensely rewarding.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
Receiving an award has profoundly transformed my practice and career, helping me gain recognition, expand my network, and enhance 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 limitless creativity and innovation it fosters. Every project provides an opportunity to explore new ideas, experiment with advanced technologies, and push the boundaries of design.

Additionally, the impact and influence of our work are immensely rewarding. Design has the power to shape how people live, work, and interact with their surroundings. Whether it’s creating spaces that promote community and connection or implementing sustainable practices that benefit the environment, I find great fulfillment in knowing that my work makes a meaningful difference in society.

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

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
The rich cultural tapestry of my country provides a vast source of inspiration for designers. With its diverse traditions, languages, and customs, there is an abundance of influences to draw upon, leading to 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 remain a central focus, with designers increasingly prioritizing eco-friendly materials and practices to reduce environmental impact.

Digitalization will transform the design process, allowing designers to utilize technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality for more immersive and efficient experiences.

Human-centered design will grow in importance, emphasizing empathy and inclusivity to create solutions that better meet the needs of diverse users.

Interdisciplinary collaboration will become more prevalent, as designers partner with experts from fields such as psychology and environmental science to inform and enhance their work.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Be Persistent! Achieving success in the design industry often demands perseverance. Don't let setbacks discourage you; continue to move forward with determination and a 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! Becoming a member of online design communities and forums enables you to connect with other designers, exchange ideas, seek feedback, and collaborate on projects.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

Maintaining curiosity is vital for designers. Staying curious allows you to constantly explore new ideas, technologies, and methods, thereby pushing the limits of your creativity.

Curiosity also drives innovation, enabling you to uncover unique insights and perspectives that invigorate your designs. Thus, whether in the design process or in life, keeping curiosity alive is essential!

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Peter Zumthor has been a profound source of inspiration for me in architecture. His work is distinguished by a deep respect for materials, craftsmanship, and the sensory experience of space. Zumthor's buildings evoke timelessness and serenity, often seamlessly integrating architecture with nature.

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

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
I encourage you to embrace curiosity, passion, and authenticity in all your endeavors. Continue exploring, pushing boundaries, and staying true to yourself and your vision.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
I want to thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences. Design is more than a profession to me; it's a passion and a lifelong journey of exploration and growth. I firmly believe in the transformative power of design to enrich lives, foster connections, and shape a better future for everyone.

Winning Entries

The Obsidian
| 2024

The Obsidian | Xingyue Geng

Urban Nexus Residences | 2024

Urban Nexus Residences | Xinyue Geng

Xinyue Geng

Xinyue Geng is an experienced architectural designer and artist with a diverse professional background spanning mainland China, the UK, and the United States. Currently, she applies her expertise at KPF (Kohn Pedersen Fox), a prestigious architectural firm based in New York.

Read more about Xinyue Geng's winner interview for The Obsidian in the 2024 NY Architectural Design Awards!