red dot award: design concept winner’s interview series

During the final registration phase of the “red dot award: design concept 2012”, we bring you a series of interviews with some of our outstanding winners from last year and updates of their latest design endeavours after their red dot win.

Designed by young designer Shi Xiaoxi, the “X-Plus” was a winner at last year`s “red dot award: design concept”. It has been exhibited at SaloneSatellite 2012 of the “Salone Internazionale Del Mobile” and will be exhibited at the ICFF in New York at the end of May. Xiaoxi shares with us what it takes to realise his design into a commercial product and the challenges of self-manufacturing.

red dot: What was your inspiration behind this design?
Xiaoxi: My inspiration was to make beautiful products that people can use. The “X-Plus” reversed the traditional furniture making approach, which always defines the functionality before we make it. For example, before we design a table, we already know we are going to design something that would be used as a table. When customers buy it, they are told to use the product as a table. However, for “X-Plus”, we encourage people to bring their own creativity into this product. It can be used as a table, a stool or even as a storage box. During the SaloneSatellite show in Milan, audiences came up with various new and different ways to make use of the “X-Plus”, for example as a bed, bookshelf, toy and so on.

red dot: Before participating in the award, did you have an intention to turn “X-Plus” into a commercial product?
Xiaoxi: Yes, one of my motivations for creating new designs is to eventually be able to realise the design concept. Participating in the award provided a great chance for a good idea to develop into a product that can be experienced by people rather than remaining as a beautiful piece of drawing.

red dot: Why did you choose to manufacture the “X-Plus” by yourself?
Xiaoxi: I had the chance to meet Christophe and Thomas from TheCreator.ME who eventually became my business partners. I took charge of the creative aspect while they handled the business and production of things. I like working with people from different backgrounds. With our different experiences in life, we can inspire each other, learn from one another and enhance each other’s lives. In addition, having a small team to work with means that things can be carried out faster. In the future, I am looking forward to working with big brands to develop good designs and products.

red dot: How has the production process been like? Have there been changes from your original concept to the production line?
Xiaoxi: Luckily, the final product was realised exactly like the original design concept. However, I still met with a lot of challenges during the process. For example, we were testing two different types of metal to be used to manufacture this design and we had to find out which one would best bring out the experience and benefit of the “X-Plus”. I also had to go through the cost negotiations, the supplier selection and so on. Many things had to be worked out. The greatest benefit was that I learned to work with people with the expertise who can help me become a better designer.

red dot: How have you been marketing “X-Plus”?
Xiaoxi: I think going to the show was a good way to start telling people about my product. Within 5 days after the Milan show, the Facebook page visits went up to 2,000.  Not only that, I also managed to make a lot of business connections and friends at the show. I also placed the red dot logo at my booth. I felt that winning the award and having the red dot label helped to market the “X-Plus” a lot. People who came by the booth also appreciated the fact that “X-Plus” was a red dot award winning design.

red dot: What are some of the challenges you faced during marketing?
Xiaoxi: Being my first attempt, it was challenging but fun! I had the experience of selling over 100 million units of my other designs while working for Nokia. I felt there was a huge difference between selling something under a reputable company and one that is a new business venture. In addition, moving from the technology industry to the furniture industry was not easy. Another challenge was to integrate the “X-Plus” into people’s everyday lives, such that they would perceive owning “X-Plus” as important and essential as owning a good watch that is not just functional but collectible.

red dot: Do you have any thoughts or advice for designers planning to participate in the “red dot award: design concept”?
Xiaoxi: I think that the “red dot award: design concept” is a great opportunity and platform for every designers to let their good concepts shine. Every designer should bring his or her ideas to red dot and share them with people who love design.

» Further information on Shi Xiaoxi and his works

» Online exhibition of the "red dot award: design concept 2011"