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Jervis Chua, Industrial Designer, Milan

Jervis Chua, an award-winning Industrial Designer from Hong Kong, very kindly gave Creative Mapping the real low down on what his work is actually about.

According to that source of all known internet knowledge, Wikipedia, Industrial design is (and we quote), the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics and usability of a product'. To Carnegie Mellon's School of Design state, Design is the process of taking something from its existing state and moving it to a preferred state.' Need more? According to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (phew..), "Design is the central factor of innovative humanization of technologies and the crucial factor of cultural and economic exchange." Clear yet?
To the rest of us mere mortals, industrial design means how a skilled and creative person or team can make products or places interesting and attractive to other mere mortals‚. And done well it can have a massive iconic global impact; Apple's iPod are just one very famous example of an industrial design executed with taste and brilliance.

"Manufacturing processes and materials inspire me because these are usually the enablers of innovative design concepts." Jervis Chua


CM: Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in the Philippines, but as Chinese I like to consider myself from Hong Kong. I was living there (Hong Kong) for years after graduating from University and feel like I relate to that city and the people more than the place I was born.

CM: What and where did you study?
I went to De La Salle College of Saint Benilde in the Philippines for my Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design. After two years of work I decided to go back to school. First I went to Savannah College of Art and Design for non degree industrial design courses for 3 months, then I transferred to Domus Academy in Milan to get my MA in Design.

CM: What was the journey from graduate to becoming a professional?
I've always wanted to move to Hong Kong where my mother was from. However, as a graduate of university from a country that wasn't very well known for design, it was a tough challenge. After looking for nearly a year, I finally settled on a job designing display and packaging for jewellery. In terms of design perspective, I wouldn't say it was the type of experience I was hoping to get. It was very style focussed and very little on process and innovation. But I've always believe in making the most out of what you have, so I learned as much as I could from the business and administrative point of view. While that was enjoyable, my passion is still in design, so I decided to quit that job and upgrade my skills. I went back to school. SCAD and the Domus Academy really helped me more than I could've imagined. Before this, I was already quite confident about my creativity, but going to these schools really helped me organize my creative thinking. I've learned how to truly apply this and translate it into meaningful design solutions. It's been a long journey and now I am working with Jozeph Forakis, who is an award-winning designer based here in Milan. We work on projects that involve branding, design strategy; interaction design, industrial design etc... and I must say it's been great working in an environment where design comes first.


CM: What are the challenges of working as a designer in your city?
There are so many talented designers out there, so naturally it's been challenging, but it's also a joy to be working in the same playing field they are.

CM: What inspires you in your city?
Simply the people's awareness of design is very inspiring to me. It's very encouraging that people understands what I do.

CM: What inspires you in general?
Manufacturing processes and materials inspire me because these are usually the enablers of innovative design concepts.

CM: Can you explain the creative process you went through when working on the project UNM. From the brief, developing your ideas, through to the final product.
The brief was about looking into new ways of living in today's environment. We were very inspired by Lebbeus Wood's work about parasitic architecture and we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to make a concept that is feasible. So my teammates and I decided to look into unused spaces around the city, we went out and surveyed the city and we found that walls in small alley ways, walls in between doors and rooftops are the most common unused spaces. Before we began designing the architecture/product we had to design the service first into a product that can come together and be an actual feasible concept.

Typically my design decisions are based on business sensibility while making sure that boundaries are being pushed.

As for tools that I use, in most of my projects I do very quick sketches to instantly visualize an idea. Then I refine it using CAD to develop multiple variations in 3D. When I'm designing handheld objects, I create mockup models to see how my designs feels in my hands.


CM: Favourite design events nationally and internationally?
Salone del Mobile in Milan.

CM: Five favourite pieces of music?
I have an eclectic taste in music and sometimes there are songs that I don't like to admit to people that I listen to!

CM: Where do you like to hang out in your city?
I love gadgets, and I frequent big electronic stores to check out what's new in technology, and also keeping an eye open for innovative manufacturing processes. Just so I don't sound like a total geek, I do go to art exhibitions from time to time.

CM: Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
I'd like to collaborate with anyone who's an ambitious entrepreneur and believes design and innovation should be one of the core values for a business to be successful.

CM: Is sustainability important within your industry, and your work?‚
Most people say it's important but when it comes down to execution, I find that most people only take sustainability into consideration when it's convenient.