We are back everyone with the most creative designers yet. This week we have 22 Design Studio, who are known for their designs using concrete. Their upcoming 4th Dimension Watch is absolutely stunning, and we got a chance to speak with Sean Yu, the co-founder of 22 Design Studio.
1. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR BRAND, WHAT’S 22 DESIGN STUDIO’S STORY AND MEANING? HOW DID 22 DESIGN STUDIO START, AND HOW IS YOUR BRAND DIFFERENT?
My wife (Yiting Cheng) and I (Sean Yu) founded 22 Design Studio, at the age of 22; this was also the time we graduated from the design academy. In my opinion, this was the beginning of a spectacular journey, started at an age when we were confident, independent, and passionate. At 22 Design Studio, we focus on providing personal accessories that connects with urban city designs and dwellers.
In 2007, that’s when we first introduce our “Concrete Ring” series. We started from scratch with our own designs, hand-made samples, and personally selected marketplace vendor business. To this day, we’re still following the same path we were on in 2007, because of this; the material concrete has become the highlight of our product line and brand.
2. WHAT WAS THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME “22 DESIGN STUDIO”? WAS THERE ANY OTHER SIGNIFICANCE TO THE NAME?
We graduated when we’re 22. Instead of going into the high-tech industries like everyone else in Taiwan, we want to build our own product, and the product we love. It is about being true to ourselves and our values, even if it meant going against the “current”. We were 22. We are 22.
3. WE THINK THE USE OF CONCRETE IS VERY UNIQUE, AND IT LOOKS FABULOUS ON YOUR DESIGNS. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONCRETE TO THE READERS?
Concrete actually has many disadvantages such as difficulties in quality control, production, and maintenance. The material is actually not the best for smaller scale products that requires precision, and accuracy. We went after concrete for it’s ability to connect with the emotions of the urban city and its dwellers through the designs and materials found. For us, it is not about usability, convenience, or cost, but its about the story in between, and its lasting impact on the customer and user.
4. THAT WAS VERY INTERESTING, AND WE AGREE THAT CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. HAVING THAT SAID, THE CONCRETE DESIGNS LOOK AMAZING; CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
We enjoy shopping; we really do, especially for designer good items and products. Our inspiration comes from the things we want but can’t find, and the things we can’t have. From this, we think to ourselves “instead of searching for it effortlessly, we should just create it ourselves.” Also, another magical component of this creative process comes from the production process. When we focus on a certain type of material, in this case concrete, we tend to realize and discover new ideas, the more we learn about the material and how to use it effectively.
5. IT LOOKS LIKE EVERYONE AT 22 DESIGN STUDIO LOVES TO EXPERIMENT AND EXPLORE NEW THINGS. WOULD YOU SAY THAT AS A TEAM YOU GUYS HAVE FOUND YOUR STYLE AS DESIGNERS, OR ARE YOU STILL LOOKING TO EXPLORE?
Our studio is made of a team of nine people, and there are two designers, one general manager, one executive assistant, one marketing manager, and four production workers. Our goal is to create and produce the most interesting product in the world. Sometimes it means exploring new possibilities, and Taiwan is a place full of possibilities with its abundant production resources. Of course, we work really hard in terms of developing productions processes for concrete, yet some of our new ideas came out when we’re actually in the production process. Our style? It’s probably the reflection of the unique environment of Taiwan.
6. YOUR DESIGNS ACTUALLY SEEM VERY FUTURISTIC. WOULD YOU SAY 22 DESIGN STUDIO IS ALSO INSPIRED A LITTLE BIT BY SCIENCE FICTION AND HIGH TECH?
Hahaha, it’s more from the architectural elements than science fiction. I was deeply inspired by works in modern architecture, and these inspirations can be seen from architects such as Tadao Ando and I. M. Pei. Down the road, I would wish to push the limits of concrete as a material, explore this area of fashion to new heights.
7. FROM THIS CREATIVE PROCESS, WHAT’S THE PRODUCT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF, AND WHY?
The product we’re most proud of has to be our 4th Dimension Watch. The concept of it is we tried to create a timepiece that can be linked to both time and space, hence the title 4th Dimension. This idea centers around a spiral staircase which presents the concept clearly and strongly. The way each stair ascends through space with time is perfectly designed into the watch.
We had this idea for almost 5 years and we were continuously perfecting it with each reiteration. Starting in 2010, we began with the wall clock, then the table clock and now, last but not least our wristwatch. We learned so much from with each design, in terms of the details that were needed. And finally we presented our watch to the market in 2015 through our KickStarter and Zec Zec campaigns. The market reaction was overwhelming; we were blown away by the amount of love and support from our customers. From this, I have to say, it was definitely one of the best feeling I’ve ever experienced since 2007.
8. FOR THE READERS OUT THERE INTERESTED IN YOUR PRODUCT, CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR AUDIENCE, AND WHY THEY LOVE YOUR DESIGNS?
Our target audiences are metropolitan dwellers that live and breath designer goods, as a way of self-identity. 22 Design Studio not only design the products, but also manufactures them. For this very reason, every single product we introduce to the market comes through a highly experimental creative process. We don’t necessarily strive for the most utilized products, but we create products with meaning, character, and story. Through our designs, we want our customers to create their own identity and story from our products.
9. LAST QUESTION – BEING BASED IN TAIWAN, DO YOU THINK THERE ARE ANY ADVANTAGES OR DISADVANTAGES TO YOUR GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION AS OPPOSED TO BEING BASED IN EUROPE OR NORTH AMERICA?
Like I mentioned earlier, Taiwan is a place full of production resources. It wasn’t hard at all to find the resources and materials needed for production. Just this fact should make Taiwan a place of dreams for devoted designers with a clear idea of what products represent. However, the lack of stimulation for design related information, higher-quality artwork and well produced exhibitions creates a problem as well. The disconnection we constantly experienced with the beautiful products shown on magazine spreads is “leg pulling”. The lifestyle and designer industry in Taiwan is like still in its infancy, and it’s hard for the government and people [with the resources] to comprehend this idea.