Curiosity, imagination and reflection – Chichin Cheng

The art that traditional artists like musicians, painters, photographers and filmmakers create are generally expressions of the artists themselves, their styles, their emotions and even their dreams.

What makes them great and powerful are their skills and the precision of the creations, that are not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye or to the ear, but can also evoke emotions within the audience, either as a relatable experience or a newfound understanding of another being, for example.

Industrial design is quite a complex field of art; it is different from other creative ventures in that the designer creates not rooted from the realm of his/her own emotions or needs, but for the benefit of the wider community. From the very inspiration to the strenuous job of refining the design to ensure technical feasibility, the designer works from the minds of everyday people, the mass community the product is largely designed for and for whom it will serve.

This is exactly what the work of recent industrial design graduate Chichin Cheng aims to satisfy. She has an awareness of the trends and needs of society in which she keeps up to date with through diligent reading, ethnographic researching, and more importantly, talking to people. The opinions of different people are important to her in each step of her work process, which of course is necessary in order to create a design that will be mass produced and hopefully, widely beneficial. ChiChin considers herself a people-person, identifying herself as a team player rather than a solo act. She prefers working in teams rather than individually, which I guess is a necessary quality for developing a user-friendly product or service.

What got her into studying industrial design was largely due to encouragement from her friends. ChiChin always loved drawing and was gifted at it. She honed her skills in high school when she became bored in class and began doodling. Her doodling turned into drawings and combined with her interest in travelling and cultural diversities, ChiChin learned to be more observant and empathetic, which ended up benefiting her work in industrial design.

One of her newest designs, “Gatekeeper,” is a mobile application that serves to help users think twice before posting anything on social media, whether by reminders and prompts from the app or by a friend or family member. It was created in response to this era of boundless information sharing, where the internet has well-provided a platform for people to freely express their thoughts and ideas – but also a place for people to make careless or even malicious comments that they may regret in the future. It seems particularly useful not only for celebrities, but also for the modern age Twitter/Instagram/Facebook influencers this day and age has produced – even amongst non-famous or influential people, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure you don’t make a statement that would harm personal relationships or professional reputations.

Fresh graduate ChiChin hopes that she can create “positive value to society” through her work. I’m sure Gatekeeper is just the beginning.


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