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    Exploring the Creative Journey of Mengyan Li: An Industrial Designer and Illustrator Loving Day Dreaming

    Exploring the Creative Journey of Mengyan Li: An Industrial Designer and Illustrator Loving Day Dreaming

    Mengyan Li, an exceptional industrial designer and illustrator, has worked on designing merchandise for Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and has exhibited her works in many design competitions and art exhibitions.

    Currently serving as an Industrial Designer at North Atlantic Import and Blackstone Products, where she plays a significant role in designing outdoor cooking products, Mengyan has been instrumental in shaping the design landscape.

    Her designs showcase meticulous attention to detail and a keen aesthetic insight. It can be said that her talent and creativity have gradually been revealed in her years of work, which has been highly appreciated by the design community.

    We sat down with Mengyan to discuss her design journey, sources of inspiration, and insights into the field of industrial design.

    What led you to become an industrial designer and illustrator?

    In fact, I have weighed the career path of an artist and the career path of an industrial designer, and I found that an industrial designer is more able to meet my wishes, because it belongs to applied art. Industrial design can not only satisfy my pursuit of my own creativity but also not lack of logic. There are many restrictions but also provide many challenges, which will eventually bring a sense of accomplishment.

    My knowledge has also improved in the process of solving practical application problems. It can be said that the main profession of industrial designer satisfies my personal pursuit of rational thinking while serving the society. The profession of illustrator is reserved for my more emotional side. It allows me to imagine, dream and express my emotions more freely while doing industrial design.

    Which project are you most proud of? Could you share the design process and the concepts behind it?

    I would say the watch I designed for Fossil, the project showcased on the main page of my portfolio. When given the theme “Camping”, I initially felt puzzled due to the difference between watch design and industrial design. Unlike focusing on functionality, watch design hinges on the concept. We had to explore ways to convey a theme, or a design idea, through appearance, resonating with users. This concept diverged somewhat from the confines of industrial design. However, as a designer who likes to use rhetorical techniques, I don’t want to show the design theme superficially but prefer to incorporate deep meaning into the work, so I tried to give it a deeper meaning, embedding a story into the watch.

    “Camping Tme” Watch

    Could you tell us more about the narrative behind this watch?

    There is an elaborate story behind this watch. I made the hour and minute hands change from lines to planes, like the effect of star trails in time-lapse photography, leaving a continuous trail on the dial. This tangible trajectory covers the invisible time. The overlap of two translucent plates representing the two concepts of time, day (yellow) and night (blue), creates a green area that is constantly moving and changing size due to the principle of the three primary colors, which symbolizes “nature” and “mountain forest”, which also reflects The concept of “camping”.

    The whole design is inspired by deep thinking about camping and nature. In my opinion, neither camping nor watches exist independently, but a dynamic memory composed of alternating day and night and recorded by time. In the design, I strive to convey this continuity and fluidity, and the connection between time and nature.

    The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, can you tell us how do you maintain inspiration as a designer?

    For me, passion stands as the foremost source of motivation. My enthusiasm for design keeps me driven. Additionally, like any other profession, constant learning, and exposure to diverse subjects are crucial. Only through these can inspiration flow consistently. I also encourage myself to engage in “daydreaming” free from constraints, as open-minded thinking nurtures imagination, creativity, and mental relaxation. These factors collectively sustain my passion and motivation for design. As a designer, I derive satisfaction from the process of exploration and creation.

    Could you share with us what design magazines and books you usually read?

    I always like to read “MilK” and “Architectural Digest” for their content on interior design, lifestyle photography, and architecture. My bookshelf mainly holds hand-drawing technique books, such as “How to Draw: Drawing and Sketching Objects and Environments from Your Imagination” by Scott Robertson and Thomas Bertling. There’s also a book I cherish, “Fourteen Life Creative Lessons II” by Li Xinpin. Unlike most creativity books focusing on practical experiences and specific techniques, this book offers philosophical guidance to creators. It greatly inspired me at that time, serving as a sort of “meditation bowl” for creativity.

    Initially, industrial design emphasized making products appealing, profitable, and elevating public taste. Now, it’s recognized for its contribution to reducing wasteful consumption by producing cherished items, benefiting the environment. How do you see the significance of industrial design?

    For me, the ultimate goal of industrial design has consistently revolved around enhancing product appeal, profitability, and public taste. These aspects have been stressed and promoted across different timeframes and contexts. In the earlier days, they drove economic growth and consumption. However, with the shift in focus to environmental and resource concerns, the value of choosing durable products has gained prominence. While people who value thriftiness and the environment tend to avoid overconsumption, those who lean towards excessive consumption are likely to persist in that behavior.

    How do you see the future of industrial design?

    My perspective leans towards a natural evolution. The aesthetics of industrial design will inevitably evolve with the emergence of new technologies and materials, potentially leading to unforeseen scenarios. Yet, this is a typical progression. I maintain confidence that the industry will navigate its path. After all, products and tools remain indispensable in human life and won’t become obsolete.

    As long as products exist, industrial design will always have a platform to flourish.

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