Electrolux Newsroom Asia Pacific

10 Questions in 10 minutes – Keith Tan

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Keith Tan

Design is an important aspect of Electrolux appliances. After all, at the very heart of the Electrolux brand philosophy is an approach called “Thoughtful Design”.

This week, on our 10 questions in 10 minutes series, we feature Master Designer Keith Tan from the Electrolux Asia Pacific Design team. Learn who and what inspires him and how creative ‘sparring’ helps.

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Master Designer Keith Tan, Electrolux Asia Pacific Design team

1. Describe yourself in under 50 words.

I’m an industrial designer who pushes boundaries and engages in creative ‘sparring’ with my peers to keep growing professionally in the ever-changing consumer context. I also believe that to realise great ideas, designers need to have the creative ability to marry both design and business goals.

2. What inspires you?

Socioeconomics and documentary films on art, design and culture.  I learn a lot from history and observing different cultures and behaviours.

3. Who inspires you?

People who are driven, highly motivated and engaged in their craft. People who are open and not afraid of challenging discussions.

4. When did you decide you wanted to become a designer?

I was 16 and there was a module in the Arts programme that gave us an introduction to design and a project to design an ecological alternative to plastic shopping bags. I remember having a lot of fun with the research process, speaking to people and coming up with crazy ideas. But what really intrigued me were the discussions around creating cool solutions that considered both user insights and solved complex issues. To implement those ideas on a large scale was absolutely brilliant.  That was when I knew it was something I wanted to do.

5. 1000h. 1200h. 1400h. 1600h. Tell us what typical activities you’d do during these time slots as a designer.

1000h -1200h: Fresh start, good time to use the energy and get creative, discuss and develop ideas.

1400h -1600h: Grab a hit of caffeine and plough through the more technical parts of the job and make things happen!

6. What are some of the biggest challenges for young designers?

Some of the challenges for me (and I had to learn very quickly) were learning not to ‘style for myself’ and to think about the larger picture while focusing on the consumer, and to be on target in communicating the proposition. Industrial design is after all not art.

An over-reliance on computers and internet for research. It’s important to be proficient with skills such as the ability to represent your ideas through a simple and good sketch; these are still very important elements of the craft.

As for research, I try to “Google” differently; it’s more inspirational to get out of the office and gather insights from users and “innovate” at the factories where all the “cooking” happens.

7. What’s your favourite part of design? Which do you like best and why?

The part where I get to ask “why” and “why not”. It’s when the context is identified that boundaries are pushed.

8. How do you approach design assignments? Is there a personal routine or traditional technique that you apply?

Go wide then zoom in. I would usually start with understanding the bigger picture and contextualise the assignment before getting the team together to discuss ideas. Like Lyndon, I use post-it notes a lot; difficult to think without them.

9. How does as a young designer go about improving  himself/herself?

Keep learning, be a sponge, get curious about everything really. And always ask “why” and “why not”!

10. I want to ??? before I’m 40 .

Why 40? I’ve only just begun!

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