The first edition of Macau Design Week, organised by the Macau Designers Association and co-organised by Macau Design Centre, was held in August. It aims to build a bridge between design and the public through design forums, exhibitions, design market, movies and concerts. We invited two of the participating designers, Case Wong and Leong Chi Hang, to share their experiences and suggestions for the development of the design industry.
Case Wong: absorb experience first, don’t rush into running business
Case Wong started Case Station Advertising and Planning Company Limited in 2005, which focuses on publication design, animation design and three-dimensional productions. Through the design week, he hopes to exhibit past commercial designs to clients and the public to enhance popularity and get to know more designers in different areas. His ideology is to combine art and business to create products that fit clients’ needs. He fell in love with the atmosphere and working environment of the design centre on his very first visit, but the workshops for rent are already full, so he can only plan exhibitions here in the future.
Wong used to work in a big design firm in Shanghai, and it made him realise the enormous market in the mainland and the diversity of clients. He thinks that the investment to join the industry is not high, most of which goes to the cost of staffing. The key is to devote passion and time. For example, sometimes clients have their own thoughts but struggle to express them. Then the designers would need to come up with several designs for them to choose, and spend a lot of time in amending the designs until the clients are satisfied.
He then went back to Macao to start his own advertising company. Due to lack of connections and insufficient understanding of market demands, he had to temporarily suspend the business. “I went for beauty－but I didn’t look after my clients’ needs,” he concluded. After acquiring more experience in other design companies, he continued his own company’s operation.
Looking back at his experience in the commercial design, Wong advises youngsters with aspiration to join the industry that despite the government encourages entrepreneurship, they need not rush into it. Instead they should have a “molding” period in which they absorb social experience before responding to the society’s needs with their design minds.
Leong Chi Hang: local designs need to establish their own names
Leong Chi Hang specialises in cultural art design, and started brand design consulting company Chiii Design with Mann Lao, who has background in commercial brand design, in 2012. Based in Macao, the firm focuses on brand images, packaging and advertising design, and has got into international markets including Hong Kong, mainland China, the UK, the USA and Canada.
Leong thinks that the first edition of the design week is a starting point, and it is good to have reached such scale and number of participants. He hopes that more local fresh designers will participate in the design week in the future. Leong has worked in the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) for years, and his duties included the promotion of the art festival and the music festival. For example, the posters of the art festival in Macao may be more vanguard, which is different from the requirement of the business circles. In commercial designs, firms usually want to make their brand stand out; therefore it is necessary for the designers’ ideas to integrate with businesses’ requirements.
In product design, Leong thinks that currently Macao still tends to design souvenirs. Although it is understandable to put the main focus on the development of tourism, other types of products are worth trying, like furniture and fashion. But since Macao lacks comprehensive production line, and it is quite difficult to engage with mainland factories, amateurs who wish to design products face limitations. In addition, the number of local consumers is relatively low; and so is consumption and production, making it difficult to turn ideas into products.
Some people say that designers need to get famous in other places before they can get the attention of Macao people, but Leong does not agree with it. “Establishing your name in Macao first and participate in international events as a local designer can also get you to success. My works when I was with IC got a lot of awards overseas which makes local designs more well-known. In this regard, designers rely on the media to promote culture and creativity.”