For our inaugural H&H Dispatch, we interview Laird (Lu) Xu from the Rhode Island School of Design and designer of the Hugo & Hoby Rhythm Rolling Pin. Lu shares some of his inspirations, thoughts on what makes great furniture, and the creative tension between designing and making. Enjoy.
How did you become interested in designing?
I started reading books written by Mr. Zhu Guangqian, the famous Chinese Aesthetician, when I was a child and developed a special feeling for the concept of "Beauty." Gradually, my muddled perceptual knowledge turned into rational insights. At the age of eight, I started to learn painting. By observing a large number of paintings completed by my predecessors and by practicing day after day, I realized that the breadth of mind and construct are the essence of traditional Chinese paintings. What matters are not strict perspective scales but artistic conceptions. I actively pursued beauty that pushes me not just on paper but also anywhere in my life. After that, I tried to focus on observing things around us and thinking about how to make them better. I found that I am enjoying the moment.
It's unusual to find someone who is both a designer and a maker, why does this work for you?
Firstly, I think there are two different things between a designer and a maker. As a designer, you need to bring something new to your consumer. It could be a new user experience or a new elegant way to solve problems. I believe that being a designer requires time to think deeply. The process of design seeks a balance between many factors, which is my favorite part. Being a maker requires advanced techniques, at least in a particular area. It means using your skills to make a piece of unique work. It also requires creativity, but the inspiration to create is shown much more by hand, the process of making will be full of sensibility. I love being a maker because I can express my ideas directly and accurately.
Do you have any tips for people that want to start designing and making things?
Change the way you think from the way people always do; do something that people have never done. Being sensitive and fragile when translating your feeling into reality is the way I work.
What is your favorite piece of furniture? Why?
The Paulistano Lounge Chair designed in 1957 by Paulo Mendes da Rocha is my favorite piece of furniture. The minimal design is straightforward. It is not equipped with any irrelevant details. The chair achieves the perfect point of balance.
What inspires you?
What I want to stress is, no matter the concept of the original idea or the developmental thinking of the details of the design, your life experiences always play a significant role.
What is the most important element of design for you?
To keep my curiosity. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to try something different, and once you apply yourself to doing that, it will bring you to a new world.
What else can you tell us about yourself?
I travel a lot, and I enjoy every moment in my life. Everyday needs are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for a designer. Fall in love with your life, and you will never lose your passion for making your life better.
Thanks Lu. Until next time.