Interview with Zerong Yang from United States

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Zerong Yang

Zerong Yang, a multidisciplinary designer specialises in creating innovative, functional, and commercially viable products. His approach combines design creativity, engineering precision, and business insight to turn ideas into impactful solutions.

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

My name is Zerong Yang, a multidisciplinary designer at the nexus of design, engineering, and business. With a Master's in Industrial Design, a Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering, and a Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship, I specialise in creating innovative, functional, and commercially viable products. My approach combines design creativity with engineering precision and business insight to turn ideas into impactful solutions. I am committed to leading the way in integrating these disciplines to design products that meet user needs and achieve business success.

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

My passion for design stems from my childhood dream of being an inventor, fuelled by curiosity in disassembling and reassembling things, and a love of math, physics, and problem-solving. This led me to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. However, I quickly realised the importance of ergonomics and user-centric design in creating impactful products, prompting me to delve deeper into the world of design to complement my engineering skills.

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

I am the founder of Clink Design Inc., a startup dedicated to enhancing the lives of pets and their owners through innovative product design. My role involves guiding our product development and business strategy to ensure we remain true to our guiding principle: "Linking pets and owners through innovative design – Clinking to a stronger bond."

4What does “design” mean to you?

For me, design is problem-solving. It's about creating solutions that address real-world challenges in a practical, effective, and often elegant way. Design goes beyond aesthetics; it's a thoughtful process of understanding a problem, exploring possible solutions, and crafting something that not only solves that problem but also adds value to the user experience.

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

I appreciate design that effectively solves problems, combining aesthetics with functionality.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

For me, a "good" design effectively solves real-world problems, is commercially viable, and directly benefits users. It must go beyond theoretical concepts to practical applications that serve the public interest. If a design doesn't contribute positively to the community or meet user needs, it falls short of being considered good in my view.

7How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?

The idea for the Clink Clicker, a portable treat carrier with an integrated training clicker, came from my own experience with my dog. I noticed the hassle of juggling a separate treat pouch and clicker during training sessions. This led me to design a solution that combines both elements, making pet training and handling more efficient and convenient.

8What was your main source of inspiration for this design?

My main inspiration for the Clink Clicker design was the sliding mechanism of old mobile phones. I admired how these phones could be operated with just one hand and how comfortable they fit in the user's hand. This seamless and ergonomic interaction influenced my approach to creating a treat carrier that could be easily used during pet training, emphasising one-handed operation and a comfortable grip.

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

My Chinese heritage, combined with my nine years of living in the United States, has greatly influenced my design process. The cultural perspectives on pet ownership and treatment in both countries have provided me with a wealth of inspiration. Engaging with many dog owners and trainers has allowed me to gather valuable insights and feedback on my products, enriching my understanding and approach to design. This blend of cultural experiences has been instrumental in shaping my designs to meet diverse needs and preferences.

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

Receiving the French Design Awards is a great honour for us at Clink Design Inc., affirming our commitment to innovation and excellence. It boosts our motivation and marks a significant milestone in our global recognition, driving us to continue creating designs that make a difference.

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

The Clink Clicker, our entry into the French Design Awards holds a special place in our portfolio as our inaugural product. It embodies our mission to innovate the pet care industry by combining a treatment carrier and training clicker into a seamless, easy-to-use device.

12What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?

To overcome the main challenges of integrating a seamless sliding mechanism and a functional clicker within a limited space, we focused on iterative prototyping and testing. Working with engineers, we optimised the design for functionality and compactness, employing advanced manufacturing techniques to achieve balance.

13How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?

Winning this award boosts my profile in the design community, opens up new opportunities, and motivates me to pursue innovative, impactful work. It sets a benchmark for my future projects, encouraging continuous excellence and creativity.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the design industry?

Creativity and Innovation, Impactful Solutions, Versatility and Global Reach.

15What sets your design apart from others in the same category?

The Clink Clicker stands out in its category as the first product to combine a clicker and handling storage in a sleek, portable device, offering a unique and convenient solution for pet handling and handling.

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

Over the next 5-10 years, the design industry will see increased integration of AI and emerging technologies, driving innovation in product design, user experience, and sustainability practises.

17What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?

Focus on mastering your craft and staying open to new ideas. Keep your design goals in mind and stay open to inspiration from everyday life. Allow your mind to wander and ponder design concepts during everyday activities such as eating, showering, or walking—you. You never know when a breakthrough idea might strike.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

To improve design skills, I recommend experiencing real-world products firsthand rather than just viewing them on screen. Explore a variety of items across different industries, analyse their features, and consider potential improvements or innovative redesigns for inspiration.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

During the design process, we encountered significant challenges with the clicker function, which initially raised the possibility of redesigning the product. However, through determination and problem-solving, we have successfully overcome these obstacles and achieved our goal.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Our mentor for this project has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me. His guidance has not only taught me various design methods but has also greatly enhanced my appreciation for design.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Embrace lifelong learning and seek to expand your knowledge and skills in areas of interest. The world is constantly changing, and staying curious and adaptable is key to personal and professional growth.

22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

We are already working on our next product and look forward to competing for the next French Design Award. Stay tuned for more updates from Clink Design Inc.!

Winning Entry

Clink Clicker | 2024


As dog training evolves, clicker training has become a standard practice, but the tools used have remained unchanged for a long time. The Clink Clicker innovatively integrates a …
(Read more at French Design Awards)

Zerong Yang

Zerong Yang, a multidisciplinary designer specialises in creating innovative, functional, and commercially viable products. His approach combines design creativity, engineering precision, and business insight to turn ideas into impactful solutions.

Read more about this interview with Lin Kun Lung for AI Smart Space System-A Thinking Home, the Silver Winner of the 2024 French Design Awards.