How did 5 post-90s win the world’s top design awards? |Interview with Rococo Team

At the beginning of 2021, a team of young designers, all born in the 90s, won 5 international design awards.

Among them, three works have won the new German Red Dot Award, and two have won the German IF Award . These two awards and the American IDEA Award are called the world’s three major design awards. The new works awarded each year are also global A weather vane for the development of industrial design.

▲Weidi grinding coffee cup won the 2020 Golden Dot Design Award and 2021 German IF Award. The other four winning works this year are: 2021 German IF Award-Megvii AGV Robot, 2021 German Red Dot Award-Extreme Space NAS, 2021 Germany Red Dot Award-a packaging design, 2021 German IF Award-a kitchen and bathroom product

They are the design team under Rococo. Since the team was formed in 2019, they have been surrounded by honors and awards.

Within two years, this young team has won more than a dozen well-known design awards. In addition to the foreign red dot awards and IF awards, there are also the top design awards in the global Chinese market-the golden dot design award .

▲ The pictures are in order: 2019 Golden Pin Design Award-PETFON Pet Smart Collar, 2019 Golden Pin Design Award-Car Carrot Xiaomi Smart Car Phone Holder

However, when it comes to awards, they are calm and gentle. When it comes to work, they are often full of enthusiasm.

March and April are also their busiest times of the year.

At the beginning of the year, they had to do some project preparation and planning for many companies. Before the interview, the five people had just finished a customer meeting, and the gasps of their rushing over could be clearly heard on the phone.

A group of post-90s designers who don’t stay up late

The first impression they gave was not as tired as imagined, and their tone was warm and hearty, but seeing them so busy, I first asked: "Is staying up late is your daily routine?"

At the busiest time of the year, their answer was a bit unexpected-"Don't stay up late, everyone is very efficient."

This efficiency is built under the pressure of work, and it is also built under the fit of the team .

The five members of the current team are Captain Liu Tianhang, Li Xinbing, Huang Pengchao, Pang Yanping, and a new member Qiao Zechen.

They first joined Rococo not only because it is the leading industrial design company in China, but also because it allows them to focus more on design itself.

Li Xinbing was doing design in a company before, and there were only one or two designers there. He felt very lonely. After arriving in Rococo, many designers would discuss divergence and creativity together, and have a fixed time every day to improve their hand-painting ability. In this way Under the atmosphere, they can also make more innovative designs .

But as designers, their daily lives are not as leisurely as they imagined, drinking coffee and drawing pictures, nor would they keep themselves busy day and night.

Their working hours are flexible. They go to work at nine o’clock at the earliest and arrive at the company at noon. Then they are facing the computer, looking for inspiration, thinking about plans, and drawing pictures. As the team leader and design manager, Liu Tianhang will meet more customers. , Verify the plan, check the quality of work.

Everyone has different hobbies. For example, Liu Tianhang likes to play guitar, Huang Pengchao likes to draw life into comics, Pang Yanping likes to play games, and the relaxed atmosphere makes the working environment more free and comfortable. Liu Tianhang will remind them when the time comes. : Time to hurry up.

▲ Liu Tianhang

At work, the rules that the team must follow are:

1. First of all, the design quality must be able to pass the test, that is, the plan must be good-looking.
Second, ideas and proposals must be able to impress customers, but the premise is to move yourself first.

But they don't have any division of labor in the team. Before entering the team, everyone is already a more comprehensive and balanced designer. Liu Tianhang introduced, " Everyone is a special force, and they have to undertake a project individually ."

At the same time, for each project, the team will repeatedly debate on various small details, and even often quarrel, and the quarrel must be discussed.

Their actual combat capabilities coupled with the improvement of the team's running-in, allowed them to slowly cultivate an efficient tacit understanding.

And their secret of not staying up late, in addition to the characteristics of the team itself, there are also many external reasons.

In fact, the design company itself has two different work rhythms from traditional companies. Li Xinbing said from his own experience:

In the enterprise, the process will be more complicated, so the project progress will be slower, but in the design company, it will be very fast, not only in our team, if you do it too slowly, you will feel dragged down.

In addition, the current society is also very fast-paced. Under the pressure of the general environment, companies have to survive and make money. Customers have strict requirements on the cycle of product design and development, especially in first-tier cities with fast-paced projects, if the product is not on the market. Or if there is a certain delay, it will put greater pressure on the survival of the enterprise.

Every time they ask their customers about their time requirements, they usually say "the sooner the better." However, Liu Tianhang will not lead the team to pursue "fastness." In his eyes, fastness and efficiency are two different things .

Fast can make products go to market faster, report more awards, and have a stronger sense of accomplishment, but this kind of fastness is still a bit uncomfortable. Deep down in our hearts, we still need to slow down, think, and deliberate when designing, in order to create a good product.

Therefore, he will try his best to control the pace of the project and discuss the cycle time with the customer. Money is to be earned and the rationale must be clearly stated.

Liu Tianhang believes that commercial design is "dancing in shackles . "

Both parties will check and balance each other, but don't be paranoid. It is important to find a balance and grasp a degree from the craftsmanship, cost, and personal thoughts. With this degree, you will become more comfortable.

Winning prizes is just a matter of course

Awards are the most direct recognition of their team's work and works. For the pursuit of honor, the team made no secret of it.

Every year after the projects they design go on the market, the team will discuss with customers and submit awards for good projects, because winning the awards will increase the company's traffic and exposure, the conversion of brand sales, and their own popularity .

▲ The team’s golden design award certificate

"Chasing fame and fortune should be what everyone wants." Liu Tianhang said, "But if a product can bring users a good service and experience, it makes sense to win. If the company and the market do not pay, The product is not recognized, so the value of the designer is also very low."

Among the many award-winning works, the one they won the most is the coffee cup series of Weidi .

The first Weidi coffee cup won the 2020 Golden Dot Design Award. This year, the Weidi coffee packaging and the Weidi ground coffee cup won two more international awards, in order to create this "cup" of Weidi-Coffee Traveler. T2, they spent a lot of thought.

The feature of this "cup" is that it innovatively compresses a complete set of freshly ground coffee equipment, such as grinders, hand pots, and coffee cups, into a thermos cup.

It is not only more convenient to carry, but also quick to use, so that people can drink a cup of freshly ground coffee at any time, and it is different from brewing coffee and drinking water in the market. This product is designed to be isolated and brewed. The process has also become more professional.

Previously, the first generation of this product was completely designed by the factory, but there is no market competitiveness. This is why Weidi’s customers want to carry out the second generation design. They want to change the appearance, but they don’t know what they are. What kind of product do you want-there is no clear requirement, and the Rococo team is also very collapsed.

"And I'm still a person who doesn't drink coffee," said designer Li Xinbing.

So from that day on, he started brewing coffee every day to find out the bad experiences in the intermediate process, and then pushed out from it whether the product movement should be changed, where the appearance needs to be changed… Finally, they began to lead customers to find pain points, Discuss overall and redesign.

They approve of us very much, and decision makers will listen to what we say. This feeling of mutual trust is good and critical because they can recognize the value of design.

Another one that won an award and also attracted attention in the market is the PETFON pet smart collar .

This product won the Golden Dot Design Award in 2019, and after being listed on Amazon, it has aroused several heated discussions. At that time, the customer also found them based on the problem of preventing pets from being lost. The customer hoped that the collar could not only be used as decoration, but also allow people to see the location of the pet at any time through the mobile app.

The Rococo team also conducted offline research.

They will find dog walkers in the evening and ask them what problems they will have when walking the dog, what measures they will take if the pet is lost, and whether they will buy anti-lost pet products and so on.

After a long period of research, they designed two innovative changes on the pet collar:

  • The lighting function is integrated into the pet collar, so that users can quickly find the pet at night, and the owner can control the flashing frequency of the collar light and turn on the emergency safety light.
  • The one-key recall function for pets is designed. Through the pre-customized training function, the pet can be recalled at a whistle. As long as the key is pressed, the pet will return to the owner.

These inspirations all come from fireflies, their glowing tails are also in the exchange of information and the search for companions.

The production chain of a product is very long, from a few months to a year, but the Rococo team will follow the definition and design of the product, the production of the mold, the supply chain, and the final launch and marketing. In this way, you can control the whole direction , "just like your own child, you still have to accompany it all the time," Liu Tianhang said.

The team won an international award for the first time in the NONOO mug in 2018. They were very surprised at the time. “This product was a battle between themselves and the mold factory, engineers, and customers for a long time, and finally reported the award. I didn’t expect it. You can still get prizes."

But now that more and more awards are won, the feeling of "accident" is no longer the same .

After the smart pet collar was awarded, and more projects were awarded, they said, "It's very natural, because it really took a lot of thought into it."

This year the new Golden Pin Design Award is here again. When asked about their suggestions to the contestants, they also emphasized the importance of diligence. After that, many things are a matter of course.

" Working with your heart is the best technique, " Liu Tianhang said. "The more delicate the designer's understanding and resonance of the project, the better. You must be able to feel the user's experience with this thing, and put yourself in an empathy."

If I simply say that I want to get a good name, how to write the copy, and at which point I must insist on reporting, I think it may be too utilitarian, or I can recognize this project, pass the test, and polish it. Is the most important.

▲ The 2020 Golden Pin Design Award presentation site

Young people’s design doesn’t have to be very public

Compared with the young design team that everyone remembers, they seem to be a little different from what you imagined.

They defined the key words of the post-90s design team as "House, Buddhism, and not staying up late", but behind the key words, they use high efficiency to control time, rather than being controlled by time; they are not so public and impetuous , But they will spend their energy to investigate and observe life patiently; they are good at grasping the degree between people and things, rather than being completely immersed in their own world .

When asked what they think of their own advantages, team leader Liu Tianhang not only said that he expected " maintain curiosity and freshness ", he also had two other points- empathy with empathy and maintaining good communication methods .

I think it is still quite difficult for the younger generation to communicate. Perhaps most of the younger generation, like our only child, may not listen to what others say, and will not think about it in another way. I think this needs to be changed.

Regarding arguing with customers, they also believe that "a plan from proposal to communication with customers is like an hourglass, it will continue to shrink until it finds a better product form."

And after participating in so many competitions at home and abroad, they also found that in industrial design, young people nowadays value beauty. Therefore, many new national trend packaging designs are very eye-catching, trying to arouse the resonance of young people. But they are questioning whether young people really like this kind of bells and whistles in their hearts .

▲ Huang Pengchao and Li Xinbing

They may only consider extroverted young people with more publicity, but in fact, most young people like to stay at home. These people don’t like publicity. Young people also have many communities and types, and have many personalities. I I feel that we need to pay attention to different young people, not all young people need to be cool and trendy.

Just like the award-winning works, they seldom decide on their designs directly based on their intuition and external voices, but do their own work, thinking and digging out the essential things on their own .

Huang Pengchao said that every time they look for design inspiration, they will start from the point of demand and see where the constraints are. They are used to thinking about problems from the inside to the outside, first thinking about what they might do, and then talking about emotions from the shackles. In addition to looking for product appearance and visual inspiration on websites such as pintrest and behance, they will also go to offline physical stores to experience product craftsmanship and processing methods.

They also think that the biggest difference between themselves and other contestants is that they will avoid a lot of internal interference in the design company. Many designers with long qualifications will feel that this is not good, and they ca n’t move there, and they will rethink this. What the product science looks like and what it should look like, will try to break the rules .

From here, it can be seen that there are still many "young" characteristics hidden in them.

For example, dare to break through, dare to challenge authority, dare to break the rules .

▲ Pang Yanping and Qiao Zechen

In the projects participating in various competitions, they also said that the less products they compromised, the more priority they would register for the competition.

After participating in so many competitions at home and abroad, they will also be regarded as the new force of young Chinese designers. They found that the young domestic designers are actually not much different from foreign designers. The young generation now has a lot of confidence. .

Now we believe in Chinese brands. The popularity, design sense and product quality of Chinese brands are getting better and better. We will be willing to do better things for the entire nation's brands.

Recently, they are designing some fast-moving products. The difference is that they will use some sustainable and environmentally friendly materials to make them, because a large number of plastic designs have already had a great impact on the entire ecological environment.

At present, design competitions at home and abroad require participants to carry out sustainable product design. Members of the Rococo team will follow the current trend and change some design vision and concepts .

However, for fame and honor, they believe that " everything has its two sides, there is no young fame, it is made into steel. Whether it is an overnight success or a slow success, both need strength, and ultimately they will achieve the same goal by different means. "

▲ Team members

At the end of the interview, I almost forgot to ask them if the team had a name.

Liu Tianhang smiled and said, "We are called BDI Good Design Development Association."

It means: To do a good design, to achieve a balance point, to design with better thinking, depth, and efficiency .

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