Weng Xinyu: In his own words
Weng Xinyu’s products include a lamp that won’t work until you counterbalance it with your iPhone – forcing you to put your phone down and concentrate on what you’re doing, a clock with a saw that only moves when you’re in the room and a lamp that turns itself off if it’s too bright, another lamp is already on, or its user simply forgets about it. The Chinese-born German-based designer tells Fiera why he’s not creating for a target market…
“I am just a normal boy, born in economically-booming China, who came to Germany to study product design- one very materialistic and one relatively slow and more spiritual – forced me to think a lot about product design. I came up with idea to express positive ideas through design.
“In the past I’ve wanted to become a painter, a manga author, a film director. a CG artist, a photographer and a rock star. I’m very visual and I love trying different things. But in China, to be enrolled in an art college doesn’t require good grades in basic subjects like Chinese, mathematics, and English, so it wasn’t something my family aspired to for me. I was at the top of my class at school.
“I love Hollywood films – I collected DVDs and learnt English by watching films, so I could speak excellent English from a very young age. I was enrolled in Communication University China to study German and had a chance to visit Germany. I fell in love with country. I hadn’t given up experimenting with visual stuff during that period and one day someone recommended that a subject called product design could utilize all my skills, especially if I did it in Germany. So while doing an exchange semester, I applied to Bauhaus University Weimar and I got the chance to change my life. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
“For my latest work, I spent a lot of time thinking about the purpose of product design and the designer. Having seen many Chinese friends and relatives taking pride in showing off their wealth by buying luxury items. I agree more with the lifestyle in Europe where people enjoy a more spiritual and cultural life – the love for art, travel, reading… However, being a product designer means creating more stuff to be bought and sold. I reflected on the purpose of this profession and creating more fancy products. I wanted to improve this situation. I found the solution by looking back at Chinese culture. “Good medicine tastes bitter,” said Confucius, showing us how unimportant the surface appearance is, compared with what lies beneath. The ‘truth’ that products should satisfy human needs annoys me, so I wanted to do design the other way around.
There’s no target market for my products – they are for everyone who agrees with the idea. So, there’s no market research. This makes things quite straight forward. I inspect the objects around me and think about how I can make them less useful. Then I look for solutions and the simplest form at the same time. I can hide myself in the studio working day and night, forgetting hunger and thirst and tiredness. Here you prove the purpose of being a designer – to solve a problem with the most elegant solution and show it to the world.
Ambiente Talents was the first opportunity for me to show all my work. It was the first recognition of my design. Most of my products are still prototypes and they’re very conceptual, so it won’t be easy to mass-produce them. It’s not impossible; I just need the boldest partner to help me bring them to life.”