Fai dreamt to be an interior designer but he had a change of heart after taking some courses on product design and fell in love with the diversity involved in designing products for the public rather than designing the interior which could only be enjoyed by the lucky few who occupy the space. Fai was fascinated by the overwhelming possibilities of a product’s reach. A product could be sold anywhere in the world, it could be low cost and common that reach the majority of the world while another product may be sophisticated and scarce that costs a few million that only a few billionaires could afford it. As a HK product designer working in a SME, Fai has long been trained to be multi-tasked. Fai was captivated by such versatility involved years ago when he started the journey. Now he has turned out to be a multi-tasking designer who has won more than 90 local and international awards.
Breakthrough to bring new identity
Fai likes the role of product designer in breakthrough existing concept and giving new identity and new appearance to a product. Such a move would usually rock the market. Fai shows a great sense of pride in his design of combining Jap-anime figurine into USB flash drive, a personalized design that was dearly loved by the market. This design idea popped into his head over 14 years ago and Fai is still proud of it and the impact it made.
Challenge for all
This breakthrough design also revealed the challenge facing all designers universally - designers cannot focus on creating designs but they have to at the same time fight piracy to protect their intellectual property. He narrated his story of designing the slap-on-watch, which took him 6 months in R&D for the best execution. His hardwork and dedication did not go unnoticed that the slap on watch was well-received when launched. However, the competitors rode on the idea and swiftly produced their cheaper versions that resulted in much bigger profits. Though the design was officially protected by obtaining both the Design patent and Utility Patent, designers and their SME employers could not possibly take legal action against every single violation since this involved a lot of time and resources. Regrettably, Fai could take action only against a selected few while letting the other copycats get away with their unethical gain.
A challenge posed by limited resources
The wireless stand which Fai designed was the Gold and HKSDA Judge Award winner in HKSDA 2019. It was an idea originated to kill two birds with one stone by satisfying the end-users‘ need and creating a big hit at a relatively low development cost.
Uniqueness of Hong Kong designers
Armed with their amazing flexibility and creativity, HK designers could strive towards excellence through good times and bad. Hong Kong designers are well trained to be multi-tasking and eventually all rounded. Moreover, Hong Kong designers have been in the strategic position of leveraging the Mainland advantage while engaging the world, that is a unique advantage that has made Hong Kong a critical bridge. The outstanding quality of combined creativity and practicality distinguishes HK designers from the rest and HK’s unique location makes them the best connection between western designers and the production line.
Great designers branding themselves
Fai believes that his adaptability and flexibility make him a good designer. When asked what would it take to make him a great designer, Fai humbly admitted that not that many can become great designers. In his mind, in addition to great design idea and execution, personal branding is the threshold that differentiates great designers like Steve Jobs, Michael Young and Dennis Chan from the rest. Their personal branding enables the market to know about them before knowing their product instead of the other way round. Going forward, Fai plans to leverage his core competencies to brand himself. In like manner, Hong Kong has played its role well in product design, it is getting ready to leap from good to great when HK design is differentiating itself from others in the market.
Mr. Fai LEUNG
President, Industrial Designers Society of Hong Kong (IDSHK)
Fai has won over 100 local and international design awards, including Hong Kong Smart Design Awards, Red Dot Design Award, iF Design Award, Japan Good Design Award, Germany Promotional Gift Award, Award US Muse Design Award Gold Winner, A' Design Award, Asia Design Prize, K-Design Award Grand Prize, International Design Awards, Taiwan Golden Pin Design Award, Taiwan Lite-On Awards, European Product Design Awards, and China Red Star Design Award.