Xiaofei Cui

Professional in Furniture Design.

About Xiaofei Cui

Xiaofei Cui (Angus Cui) graduated from University of Northumbria at Newcastle UK, where he received MA degree in industrial design. Xiaofei Cui began his design career from 1993 in the wide field, including graphic design, interior design, exhibition design and product design. Since 2009 he as a full time lecturer teaches at Art & Design School of Zhengzhou University of Light Industry in China, and he has also been the course leader for the exchange students from Edinburgh Napier University. So far has completed 6 important design project with clients, get more than 20 international design awards by himself or as a instructor with his students, such as IDEA Silver Award, K Design Golden Award, A Design Golden Award, IF, Red Dot, Lexus, Braun, CDN Car Design and so on.

  • Winner of Furniture Design Award.
  • Specialized in Furniture Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Furniture
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Interview with Xiaofei Cui

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
1993, product designer, BA, Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, ZHENGZHOU/CHINA.2006, product designer, MA, Northumbria University, NEWCASTLE/UK.I think the main reason to become a designer is I love creating beautiful things when I was a child, especially like to drawing something in my fantasy world. It quickly became clear to me in high school that I love Chinese traditional painting and western oil painting. I don't know anything about design at that time actually, not just me, even in the whole society of China. Fortunately something happened in the late 80s of last century of my country. I got chance to study the product design in the local University, and also that is my first time understand the concept of design, and I really enjoy to create some different. I believe that choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I currently work in university and serve in some design education institutions. Design education is my main job, and I also work as a design consultant in some design companies and enterprises of China.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
Philippe Starck's Juicy Salif, I think it is not just a product, it is a work of art in the kitchen.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I think it's important to understand the background of the client and the project.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Usually, I prefer metal and wood as processing materials, and recently I am interested in use 3D printers printing complex plastic structures.
When do you feel the most creative?
Actually, I often have good ideas when I in the toilet. Another occasion is brainstorming with the right guys.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
In my opinion, the future of design is based on the thinking and rethinking of mankind's position.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
So far I haven't had a solo exhibition, but part of my design works have been exhibited in Europe, Asia and the United States for some well-known professional design awards, as well as on the website. I think I will to hold the solo exhibition at the right time.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I like to read all kinds of books, not just in design. I believe that if you want to make a breakthrough improvements in some design field, you must have the knowledge out of that area. Especially after reaching a certain height of your design level, I think only philosophy can help you to develop your design skills.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
In my opinion, the best style is without style, that mean design is not for style, design is for people's life style, so it can be any styles.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I am currently living in China. Actually I think the local lifestyle influence my design more than culture. The design market in China is very huge, but the disadvantages are also obvious, there are many bragging people in the business field, and just few people who do practical design in deep.
How do you work with companies?
I often work with different design companies and face to the customers independently sometimes. In both cases I generally play the role as a team leader.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
Different companies have different requirements for designers actually. So generally speaking, the first thing is to see whether he likes the design work or not, and whether his design work will exceed the expected target, because good designers will always fight with themselves, not just to finish the project.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
Usually focus on the theme first, then understand the concept, and then testing the project by researching, sketching and modeling.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
Dell computer, iPhone, SUnus children's chair, Xiaomi AI smart speaker, Ninebot Self-Balancing Scooter.
Can you describe a day in your life?
When there is a teaching task, I usually get up at 6:30. the morning hours are given to my students from 8:00 until 12:00. In the afternoon, sometimes face to the computer do some research at home. 17:00-18:30 is my fitness time, and 20:00-23:00 actually is the best golden time for me to design something.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
First of all, make sure you really love design and enjoy it. Secondly, you should have a wide range of knowledge and social responsibility. Thirdly, always concentrate in one direction that you really interested in. Finally, sometimes you should stop talking, but never stop practicing.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
I do not think it can be divided by positive and negative, designers often has two distinct personality, if you find the balance between subjective and objective in the different project, you will be a good designer.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
Making is thinking, thinking with your hands is more important than learning theory.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Usually I testing and thinking during my design project by making a large number of models. Sketches and CAD just used as auxiliary tools. I will take photos after the final model completed, and use Photoshop to make detailed modifications. I believe inspiration comes from making things, not just reading book or searching on the google .
What was your most important job experience?
From 2016 to 2017, I worked as a senior lecturer and a senior designer in product design department at the Edinburgh Napier University in the UK, and completed the graduation design work for undergraduate graduates. The students I coached were selected for the 2017 New Designers Exhibition in London.
Who are some of your clients?
Sunon-China, Nanjing Jiayuan Special Electric Vehicle Manufacturing CO.,LTD, Banu-China, Google Ventures, adidas, etc
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I prefer furniture design, because it's much more easily to control the processing by myself.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
I am going to publish a personal design portfolio book, including personal perspective of design.
How can people contact you?
Email:anguscui2003@gmail.com 306121170@qq.com Mobile: 0086 13700857101, 0086 15639000482

Designer of the Day Interview with Xiaofei Cui

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I have over 23 years of experience in design and over 10 years in industrial design education. I worked as an exhibition designer and freelance designer from 1993 to 2003, I used to study in the UK for my master's degree, 4 years aboard study really broaden my view and also make me have the high levels of self-confidence in design, and then I worked as the art director for a jewellery design company. Since 2007 concurrently teaching product design part-time in design schools and universities in China. I have worked in education full-time from 2009 while maintaining my design practice up to now.
How did you become a designer?
I think the main reason is I love creating beautiful things when I was a child, especially like to drawing something in my fantasy world. It quickly became clear to me in high school that I love Chinese traditional painting and western oil painting. I don't know anything about design at that time actually, not just me, even in the whole society of China. Fortunately something happened in the late 80s of last century of my country. I got chance to study the product design in the local University, and also that is my first time understand the concept of design, and I really enjoy to create some different.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
For me, first focus on the theme, then use sketch and physical models in project development. Depending on the circumstances, sometimes created complex models using 3D printing techniques.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
It is undoubtedly exciting to find a suitable project to carry out research and design. for me, I felt most happy time is when I finished project.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
I like oil painting, and I also like to read some philosophical and historical books, these will influence my design work. Of course I think most important thing is that I have the habit of exercising, this habit give me enough energy and perseverance to accomplish everything I want to do.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
I am planning to do some special design just for my daughter actually, my dream is to design a luxury soft airship. for my future I am going to create a personal brand, and maximize the value of social and marketing of designers.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Observe, experience and read a lot, and then just do it by your hands, because making is thinking.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
First of all, make sure you really love design and enjoy it. Secondly, you should have a wide range of knowledge and social responsibility. Thirdly, always concentrate in one direction that you really interested in. Finally, sometimes you should stop talking, but never stop practicing, and keep study and get the useful feedback from the real end-users.
What is your day to day look like?
I like to read all kinds of books in my daily life, not just in design. I believe that if you want to make a breakthrough improvements in some design field, you must have the knowledge out of that area. Especially after reaching a certain height of your design level, I think only philosophy can help you to develop your design skills. Design is the ability of grasping all the details. I am a person who love life and pay attention to the little details of daily life, design is an integral part for me. in addition, I love teaching job, I believe that choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
In my opinion the latest design trends is a false proposition, eye reach, freedom of thinking and persistence are the key elements of design work. Then is Observation, curious everything, take notice and make record of things others overlook. desire to draw upon my observations and then improve the design standards, desire drives action, great designers desire great change. Unbound by rules and trends, we should see rules or trends as references, freedom of thought is what many call creativity.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
Good design is innovative, Good design makes a product useful , Good design is aesthetic, Good design helps us to understand a product, Good design is unobtrusive, Good design is honest, Good design is durable, Good design is consequent to the last detail, Good design is concerned with the environment, Good design is as little design as possible, Good design doesn't over design, Good design should find the balance between form and function. in addition, keep asking yourself or someone else is this good enough? If they don’t say “Wow”, you know you have some work have to do.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
This question is too difficult for me to answer actually, I think accumulated experience may have good answers , rich experience can make me find out the best solutions to an existing problem. I never stop improve my work until the deadline in most business cases.
What is your biggest design work?
One of my design work I really like to talk about, I can't say that is greatest, actually it just a set of bowl. you know ancient Chinese use rice soup as the glue to make the highly effective paper armor, according to this production method the bowl made by rice and rice paper, light as if there is no weight when you hold it in hand, it would be a new way to reduce cost and carbon emissions. My current design work is a set of marine life-saving equipment. Apologize I can't say too much details about that. I hope this project can revolutionize the existing facilities.
Who is your favourite designer?
I like Philippe Starck, because his Juicy Salif is not just a product, it is a work of art in the kitchen. In addition one of the design masters who has influenced me the most is Sir Jonathan Ive, he is the chief design officer (CDO) of Apple Inc. we graduated from the same university, I think the most important thing he taught me is you have to make the real design model by your own hand, not just drawing.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
I am teaching at a university in China right now, I don't have a particular favorite city, I love all ancient or modern cities such as Rome , Tokyo, Shanghai, Edinburgh, because that can make me feel the past or present culture, culture is an important element of design work, and of course including my own culture. Culture determines peoples lifestyle, the lifestyle determines human behavior and thinking patterns. Obviously design play great role in shaping the society and that also not only from the view of environment but also from the aspects of lifestyle even mentality. Design is create some good things influences people, anything that influence people can make an impact on society.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
As a teacher and independent designer, actually I pay more attention to the education research. I am quite enjoy the interaction process when discussing design with my students. For business cases more often than not I like to work alone, and prefer to choose what I like to do. I think self-honesty and confidence are two characteristics for a good designer, If you want to consistently put out quality work and progress as a designer, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. People have an inherent ability to justify their decisions. If you are lacking in confidence, your clients will lack confidence in you.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
Good design is not just about the aesthetic improvement of our environment,it is as much about improved quality of life, equality of opportunity and economic growth. Good design can help anyone make your life much easier and environmentally friendly. I used to led a team of young designers to participate in a series project for two hope primary school of China.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
the most important thing about Awards is the designers can get the most recognition, it can also improve the ability of design presentation and communication, at the same time expand the social scope in the design field. I feel so lucky and honored to be the designer of the day.

Extended Interview with Xiaofei Cui

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I have over 25 years of experience in design and over11 years in industrial design education. I worked as an exhibition designer and freelance designer from 1993 to 2003, I used to study in the UK for my master's degree, 4 years aboard study really broaden my view and also make me have the high levels of self-confidence in design, and then I worked as the art director for a jewellery design company. Since 2007 concurrently teaching product design part-time in design schools and universities in China. I have worked in education full-time from 2009 while maintaining my design practice up to now.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I think the main reason is I love creating beautiful things when I was a child, especially like to drawing something in my fantasy world. It quickly became clear to me in high school that I love Chinese traditional painting and western oil painting. I don't know anything about design at that time actually, not just me, even in the whole society of China. Fortunately something happened in the late 80s of last century of my country. I got chance to study the product design in the local University, and also that is my first time understand the concept of design, and I really enjoy to create some different.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
I believe that choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
My work across a range of design field, including graphic design, interior & spatial design, exhibition design, product design, advertising and interaction design. It is difficult to choose which one is my favorite, if have to choose, I prefer product design, because it is more closer to our daily life.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
First of all, make sure you really love design and enjoy it. Secondly, you should have a wide range of knowledge and social responsibility. Thirdly, always concentrate in one direction that you really interested in. Finally, sometimes you should stop talking, but never stop practicing.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Good design is innovative, Good design makes a product useful , Good design is aesthetic, Good design helps us to understand a product, Good design is unobtrusive, Good design is honest, Good design is durable, Good design is consequent to the last detail, Good design is concerned with the environment, Good design is as little design as possible, Good design doesn't over design, Good design should find the balance between form and function. in addition, keep asking yourself or someone else is this good enough? If they don’t say “Wow”, you know you have some work have to do.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Good design is not just about the aesthetic improvement of our environment,it is as much about improved quality of life, equality of opportunity and economic growth. Good design can help anyone make your life much easier and environmentally friendly.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I am planning to do some special design just for my daughter actually.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
don't think anyone have the secret recipe of success in design, if I have, just love life, love design, never give up and be a good man.
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
One of the design masters who has influenced me the most is Sir Jonathan Ive, he is the chief design officer (CDO) of Apple Inc. we graduated from the same university, I think the most important thing he taught me is you have to make the real design model by your own hand, not just drawing.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
Philippe Starck's Juicy Salif, I think it is not just a product, it is a work of art in the kitchen.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
One of my design work I really like to talk about, I can't say that is greatest, actually it just a set of bowl. you know ancient Chinese use rice soup as the glue to make the highly effective paper armor, according to this production method the bowl made by rice and rice paper, light as if there is no weight when you hold it in hand, it would be a new way to reduce cost and carbon emissions.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
I think I will become a painter, a poet or a martial artist, because those are all my hobbies.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Design is the ability of grasping all the details. I am a person who love life and pay attention to the little details of daily life, design is an integral part for me.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
There is no doubt that my family has given me the greatest support, I could not have reached these heights without them.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Observation, curious everything, take notice and make record of things others overlook. Desire to draw upon my observations and then improve the design standards, desire drives action, great designers desire great change. Understand context. Context is what enables us to make sense of things. Context includes details that allow us to decide if something is relevant. Unbound by rules, we should see rules as guidelines, freedom of thought is what many call creativity. Experience and solutions, rich experience can make you find out the best solutions to an existing problem.
How do you think designers should present their work?
Certainly, presentation is one part of your job, sometimes your design is good but the way someone tried selling it wasn’t, you will failed! The client simply went for something more convincing, tangible and believable, only you can give a proper explanation, not just walk away.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
My next design project is a set of marine life-saving equipment. Apologize I can't say too much details about that. I hope this project can revolutionize the existing facilities.
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
Create a personal brand, and maximize the value of social and marketing of designers.
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
Sometimes the client himself doesn’t know what he wants but expects you to deliver a amazing project he needs. I usually just show the design process rather than the simple plausible results in a long term.
How does design help create a better society?
Obviously design play great role in shaping the society and that also not only from the view of environment but also from the aspects of lifestyle even mentality. Design is create some good things influences people, anything that influence people can make an impact on society.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
A set of transparent box for storage, because my personal design description for that is a design without design.
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
For effective use of resources and product sustainability, establish an evaluation and monitoring mechanism in the global.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
The combination of biology and artificial intelligence with design.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
Spend time based on the complexity of the actual project. Some commercial projects are usually not less than 6 months, and the non-commercial research cases will take more time.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
Begin with a brief and schedule your design time. Remember, you can't do anything efficiently without a timetable.
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
It's difficult to answer because this question just like the chicken or the egg which came first?
What is the role of technology when you design?
Technology has a huge effect on today's design world, even in the traditional field. I am very concerned about the new technology, but still very careful to use them into design. Because we can see too many short-lived electronic products in the current market.
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
I think ambient is the most important element influence our designs, followed by color and materials.
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
That's amazing! How did you make it? My answer is you can make it if you really love design.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
I think anyone can be my ideal design partner, in most cases , design is the collaborative innovation amongst different areas, so I believe in co-design.
Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
I can't say which, fortunately I am a lecturer, that allows me have lots of opportunities to interacting with my students, I should say thanks to them because the positive influences on both sides.
Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
Tao Te Ching, it is not a design book, That is an ancient Taoist classic.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
I like to read all kinds of books, not just in design. I believe that if you want to make a breakthrough improvements in some design field, you must have the knowledge out of that area. Especially after reaching a certain height of your design level, I think only philosophy can help you to develop your design skills.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
I think the awards just recognized for my professional level, but it does not represent all of my design capabilities.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
I don't have a favorite season, I love feeling of nature. I like white color, the meaning of the color white is purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. My favorite place is Newcastle, because I used to live there when I study in the UK, that is my second hometown in my mind.
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
I used to create a urban planning model for a exhibition space when I was young, the model is really big and looks quite real, unfortunately I couldn't take it into the exhibition hall, because the gate is too small. Is it funny?
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
Keep in a good mood, and set a schedule to do the little piece of work every day. Remind yourself you can do it, even most of people said you can't do, in addition do not forget the fitness.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
I like to drawing something when I was a child, I think that might be a sign.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
Design will always be accompanied by the development of human society, I believe that artificial intelligence and space travel will completely change our current lifestyle in the future.
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
I am not just a great designer, I want to be a great painter, a great poet, a great martial artist. Of course, if I have more spare time before I die.

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