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About Xiaohe Shen

Xiaohe Shen is a magnificent designer working hard to make the World a better place with their original and innovative award-winning designs and creations.

Interview with Xiaohe Shen

Xiaohe Shen ("XS") interviewed on Sunday, 22 November.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

XS : I studied jewelry design for 6 years in both my undergraduate school in Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and graduate school Rochester Institute of Technology. I started to work on a high jewelry studio in New York's diamond district as quality analyst, and then I transfer to be technical designer for high jewelry brands called Temple St Clair, after that I also worked for some other jewelry manufacture company and fashion jewelry company as designer, then I started to work as production designer for Tiffany from 2018 until now.

How did you become a designer?

XS : I know I want to be a designer since I was a kid, I always feel I have some kind of passion of creating beautiful things. All my school choice and work choice were just following my feeling.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

XS : For all my works, I'm always pursuing simple, elegant and timeless design, and I think my jewelries are unisex, they don't have very strong male or female character. There are three features/collection I'm focusing on and would like to continue developing more in the future. First is Arc. This collection will be fine jewelry, made with 18K gold and gem. Design feature including using of negative space, and curved shape. The second is Keystone. This collection will be mostly silver with 14K gold, with modern and industry feeling. The last one is Fluid. This collection will apply some semi precious stones on, and the design will have some organic shapes.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

XS : I think there are high point and low point on every design phase. It's always exciting when the idea came up, that's high point, but when dive in to developing and polishing the idea, there will be a lot of self questioning and self-denial - that's the low point. Same process happens again when transferring a concept to a workable model, especially when there are technical difficulties involved. But after go through everything, and when I have the final product on my hand, it feels like everything is worth, that's satisfaction.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

XS : There are two aspects I think that impact me as a designer, one is my interesting in geometry. I think it's a beneficial if a designer or an artist have some kind of interesting or talent in mathematic and geometry. Learning from masterpieces of painting, sculpture, architecture and industry design in the history, a lot of them are highly related to mathematic, I believe the fundamentals of all beauties of art can be found in math. Another aspect is comprehension ability. No matter it's working with clients or with other design team, be able to quickly and accurately understanding people's idea and reading other people's concept helped me do my work efficiently, and makes me enjoy what I am doing.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

XS : After graduate from school, I started to work as a quality analyst in a small high jewelry studio in diamond district. This job gave me a chance to closely oversee fine jewelry manufacturing process, as well as those super valuable jewelry pieces. However I want to do creative and design related work. And I think 3D modeling is a big trend manufacturing. So I taught myself how to use those software and 3D modeling, then I got the job as technical designer in Temple St. Clair. After that, I switched several jobs and until now, I'm working in Tiffany as production designer. Eventually I want to be an independent designer and artist, who can make a live with creating and selling they own work. For all those years I never stopped making my own design. With the improvement of my skill set and the gaining of knowledge in jewelry industry, now I'm much more confident in touching precious materials. That's what I'm working on, and want to extend in future.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

XS : Everyone's experience and opportunity is different. But I think it's always better to be bold to try things and make mistakes at the beginning of something than at the middle of something.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

XS : Looking at master's work, improve aesthetic stand, keep on polishing the skillset and know when to give up, especially when you feel and know the work you are doing doesn't make you happy.

What is your day to day look like?

XS : Wake up in the middle of morning, take a sip of coffee while reading WWD, then start working from 10-6 on my full time job for company. Get some relax in the evening, listen to music or watch some fun TV show. Start to working on my own design ideals from around 10pm until 2am.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

XS : I always keep my style, which I hope is timeless. But I still follow up the trend closely, but mainly about fashion, for personal interests. I don't really watching jewelry trend.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

XS : A good design represent designer's concept wisely and even humorous. It must be a good balance of four parts: artistic aspect, craftsmanship, user experience and reasonable cost.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

XS : Jewelry is not heavily functionality related design, it's more close to a wearing sculpture. Sometimes the design need to be revised due to the limitation of manufacturing. I would keep on rebuilding until at some point, I know that's the best circumstance I can achieve. During my design process, I try to keep my feeling of the original inspiration in mind, to avoid over-iterations.

What is your biggest design work?

XS : There are several projects I worked on or be part of that I consider them as the most imposing to me. One is my thesis project in my graduate school called Dreamland. In that project I did a lot of contemporary paintings and wire sculptures. That was the first time I felt that I literally working as an artist, and I was able to boldly express my art concept. The result turned out to be quite nice, when everything was set up in the gallery, the space looked exquisite, and that atmosphere was what I wanted to express through my work. The other important work is the project I was participated in, the T1 collection of Tiffany. I was the production CAD designer for those T1 bracelets. Working on product modeling and mechanism development. It was a very important learning experience, and also it's a big satisfaction to see a project I was working on become such a big success on the market.

Who is your favourite designer?

XS : Leoh Ming Pei and Martin Margiela. I like Leoh Ming Pei is because his remarkable works. His works to me are great examples of combining local culture to modern western architecture. I like Martin Margiela's design style, and how creative he was in brand marketing, how he keeps the experimental feeling of his design. I also appreciate his definition of cloth as cloth be divided to men's and women's, they should be just cloth.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

XS : My lifestyle is like most New Yorkers, being busy but also enjoy small things in life. I grew up in a south east capital city of China, so I feel very comfortable to be in somewhere with convenient public transportation, late night restaurants and grocery store. Besides, New York is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. All the exhibitions, shows, new brands and new stores from the whole world are happening in this city, they are tremendous resources of inspiration for a designer.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

XS : My working style is very straight forward, my goal of work is always making good design and product, no matter for the company I'm working for or for my own design. For my own design, I could work alone and just make my own decision. When work with other designer and clients, listening and communication is also a very important part. I don't think I'm difficult on that part. The most difficult part is how to evaluate the work amount I think, especially when working with people who is not very professional.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

XS : As a designer who is still building her brand, I think the best I can do for society is making good design. I think making a bad design into reality is wasting resource. So what I can do at this stage is not to waste resource.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

XS : First of all, having an award from such a big competition is definitely a good mark in my career and on my CV. And also, win this award also means to me that my design is somehow been approved by public, this is a huge satisfaction for a designer.

Xiaohe Shen Profile

The Garden Jewelry Collection

The Garden Jewelry Collection design by Xiaohe Shen

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