Xiamen Habitat Design and Life Festival (HDLF), co-organized by Xiamen Stone Fair, Xiamen Bath & Kitchen Fair and International Habitat Interior Design Association (IHIDA) made its debut at Xiamen Stone Fair 2021 on May 18-21 in Xiamen International Conference and Exhibition Center.
Xiamen Habitat Design and Life Festival was launched to connect stone and design through a comprehensive perspective of production, education and research. It contained three parts: Habitat Interior Design Exhibition, Development Forum of International Habitat Interior Design and Study Tour, aiming to build a better life and explore more possibilities of living spaces.
The first edition of HDLF held its opening ceremony in Hall A1, XICEC on May 18. Mr. Lai Guoxiang, vice president of Xiamen Jinhongxin Exhibition Co., Ltd., Mr. Chen Fangxiao, creative director of CDI, Mr. Ricky Wong, founder/president of RWD, Ms. Lai Yanan, founder of famous furniture design brand, DOMO nature, Mr. Gary Zeng, founder/director of GID, Mr. Sun Huafeng, chief design director of Dinghe Design, Mr. Pang Xi, founder/design director of PXD, Mr. Wu Wenli, president/founder of Shenzhen Huge Rock Design, Mr. Sun Wensong, secretary general of IHIDA attended the opening ceremony.
As a highlight of HDLF, the Development Forum of International Habitat Interior Design, themed with “Define Lifestyle with Stone”, held Forum One on May 18. Mr. Ricky Wong and Mr. Meng Ye were keynote speakers, not only delivering speeches about design , but also having dialogue with leading stone industry figures, including Mr. Liu Liang, president of Yingliang Group, Mr. Song Xiaojie, co-founder of Material Art Museum, Mr. Liu Tao, general manger of Jiangsu Bestone Technology Co., Ltd. and Mr. Sun Wensong, secretary general of IHIDA. They exchanged views on the future trend of the connection between design and stone industry.
“What is good design? Good design should concentrate more on emotional appeals which people are willing to keep in memories. No matter how expensive or cheap your design is, if you can solve the problem of emotional appeals, you are a master. Nowadays, we talk about formalism, style-ism, yet it may refer to the characteristic of good-looking, high-end, artistic and so on. But basically, space is used by people. In addition to functional and visual satisfaction, there is also a need to release the emotions. That is what we said emotional appeals in the space. We designed more house projects, and we needed to provide them with the sentiment in life, so that they can unknowingly follow your setting to live a sentimental and interesting life.”
“Behind the prosperity of design industry, the public aesthetic is worrying. For many years, we have only provided services for a few specific aesthetics. With the upgrading of consumption and manufacturing, as well as the younger generation becoming major consumer group, it is necessary for China to have more designs and products with our own creative and independent thinking.”
“There is a phrase in Hong Kong, ‘it is so delicious that leaves a rich aftertaste’, that is, we need to constantly reminisce, review and pursue. Only when you keep thinking that you can move forward better.
I grew up in the streets and alleys where the local customs of the past are still vivid, and the bits and pieces of the old days still affect every moment of my life now. Seeking taste is the feeling of eating and of life. I am keen to explore every little things and tiny corners. It is the small things that reflect and manifest the happiness."
“The era we live now is ever-evolving and the pace of life is fast as well. Many things have become superficial and ‘convenient’, yet without letting us think deeply. Our thoughts seemed to disappear. Therefore, what I am presenting today is not a beautiful and decent space, but an artistic installation. I hope to use some old elements, something that has been destroyed by us, and make contrast between new and old to arouse everyone's memories and thoughts from the past.”
Host: The relationship between stone companies and designers is not close, but the connection between Yingliang Group and designers has always been very close. In your opinion, what kind of path is Yingliang Group taking?
Liu Liang: Stone industry is special that due to the characteristics of stone itself, it determines the way we make contact with designers which is quite different with other industries. In the past 20 years, stone companies focused more on the business mode of “TO B”. Precisely, it was usually seen in decoration project. Designers have done the contact with the owner that the only thing stone companies could do is tailoring. So, actually, we didn't directly contact with designers much, therefore the relationships are not close.
But over the years, “TO B” mode has become a highly-competitive market, so one thing we or all stone people want to do is to bring our stones to thousands of households. This is a very difficult task. Therefore, we can only let more owners understand the story of stone through designers. It is not that the stone industry has no brand. In the past 20 years, what we have been doing is a circulation brand. We did not directly made stone as a consumer brand to consumers. If the stone is to be upgraded and to survive, we must deepen our connection with designers. In the past few years, this is something I have deeply understood, and this is also something we have been committed to doing in the past, step by step.
Host: I believe that Mr. Liu has just expressed the voice of many stone people. Mr. Liu has been emphasizing the need to connect with designers. Then how to make connections? How designers can know the knowledge of stone, services, prices and other information? What kind of interaction with the stone industry do designers want? And what do designers think of stone companies? Shall we have Mr. Meng Ye to share your views.
Meng Ye: Generally, what designers need for the stone company is the service process and the prices, but from my point of view, the designers’ need for the stone is a sense of texture, a sense of space. It can be viewed from two perspectives. The spatial texture may lead the trend, lead the design, or add more possibilities to the design. In this spatial texture, what can stones bring to us? The texture of stone or the effect that stone presents?
On the other hand, I think the service of stone is the most important, from raw blocks, slates cutting, to installation service. Whether the final effect will meet the demands or not requires a common logic on design between stone companies and designers, thereby complete an ideal project through decomposition, deepening and implementation of design. That's what I understand.
Host: As far as I know, Mr. Ricky Wong has applied stone materials in many projects. I am wondering how to figure out the connection between design and stone when you were doing those projects.
Ricky Wong: As mentioned before by other guests, designer and material is inseparable. Every designer has to understand the characteristics and parameters of each kind of material, then apply the material in the space appropriately. In my opinion, the relationship between designer and material is not about passive or active, but is more like a partnership relationship.
As partners, we should understand each other and learn from each other’s strengths so as to promote the progress of a project. I like to use stone in projects because it is on the basis of my understanding of stone. And stone is more unique to me than other materials.
Host: I know Mr. Song owns a Material Art Museum. Is there only stone in your Material Art Museum?
Song Xiaojie: The Material Art Museum is a one-stop stone center for designers. Now our main operation is in Shanghai, with an exhibition hall of about 8,000 square meters. Stone is the main category, but there are also other materials. We divide building materials into 36 categories. The Material Art Museum mainly provides materials for designers, because we found that designers are usually lack of time.
However, materials are distributed in different places. They have to look for stone in Xiamen for one day, and may have to find ceramics in Dongguan for another day. It costs more time in looking for materials. Therefore, we established such a center, hoping to provide a one-stop service for designers through sharing materials and knowledges.
Host: Finally, I would like to ask Mr. Liu about how can stone market be transformed in the post-pandemic era?
Liu Tao: Our main positioning is to serve luxury stores. It is both opportunities and challenges under such circumstances. The pandemic did have a great impact on brand stores. First, the cost of a single store has been reduced and controlled. In addition, due to more attentions on low-carbon environmental protection and social responsibility, they hope to use more materials from China and Asia in the Asia-Pacific region to reduce the cost.
In response to these changes, we have taken some measures. First is to attract strategic customers, because they didn't have the opportunity, and now their engineering and procurement people are abroad and can communicate with us online. In the past 10 years, we have provided services for physical stores. In the first 8 years, we could only achieve 3 direct cooperation with brand owners. Now, in less than two years, we achieved 6 strategic cooperation. Moreover, we are very cooperative with the requirements of low-carbon environmental protection in foreign countries to look for marble and limestone products in China. As a result, we have become more competitive in this industry.
The Forum Two of Development Forum of International Habitat Interior Design continued on May 19. The second forum focused on the topic of in what aspects can design influence and shape people's life in the future. You are all involved in it no matter you are from stone/kitchen and bathroom enterprises, or designers. Mr. Ma Wenrui, general manager of Vgreen, Ms. Yin Yanmei, president of diib and Mr. Sun Wensong, secretary general of IHIDA shared their feelings and thoughts. Also, Mr. Pang Xi and Mr. Steve Leung gave wonderful keynote speeches.
“Fugue is a polyphonic music genre prevalent in Baroque period, meaning chase and escape. Through the concept of baroque polyphonic music, it symbolizes the adventure of chasing away between tradition and modernity. In the field of space design, it mainly reflects a kind of humanistic feelings. I integrate my thoughts of ancient and contemporary culture into modern design to give the space a new style.”
We should not only inherit the ancient classics, but also not be out-of-date. We should make innovation and development in inheritance. Art has no inevitable connection with time. It is not influenced by time. Our pursuit of a better life has never stopped in all ages. Science and technology are progressing and different cultures are merging. Although space has boundaries, art is infinite.
“I am a simple designer. Some people also said that my project style is simple. But when I think about design, I never start from style but rational analysis, to achieve “people-oriented” design. I have always believed in doing things just right in design and life.”
“As I became more exposed to Chinese culture, I found that this idea was very similar to the concept of The Doctrine of the Mean (Zhong Yong) in traditional Chinese philosophy. There were different scholars having different interpretations of The Doctrine of the Mean in all ages. It is widely acknowledged that the scholar in Song Dynasty, Zhu Xi's understanding of it is more appropriate. He interpreted The Doctrine of the Mean as: bent neither one way or another and unchanging. That is a state of moderation, rectitude, objectivity and constant equilibrium. Therefore, the core concept is just right, neither more nor less. In my opinion, design is also a medium that reflects Chinese culture and life.”
Host: We often say that design changes life, creates value and promotes industrial upgrading. Design is closely related to our lives. When we face sudden environmental changes (such as the pandemic), can design improve or help people get rid of the limitations of the environment and reduce the impact?
Yin Yanmei: It is a great pleasure to discuss this topic with you today. If not affected by the pandemic, more and more people tend to move their social spaces to public spaces instead of merely staying at home. This is also what many designers are concerned about, how to make the urban communication space better. However, then came the pandemic.
As a result, we, instead, must think about how we can make family relationships more harmonious in such a small space, and how to face the situation in a happy and positive way for months. So, I think we should not only consider the design in an overall environment, but also consider some household products, some subtle design.
Host: Our guest Mr. Ma Wenrui is in the kitchen and bathroom field. Now most of the sales of kitchen and bathroom products in China mainly lie in the competition with rival products. In terms of the sales of your company's products, is there any cooperation with designers?
Ma Wenrui: As we mentioned a lot about products and design under such post-pandemic era. Because of the pandemic, customers are pursuing more convenient and suitable products, which is a challenge for us. To meet the market demand, we need to develop products more suitable for consumers. But challenges also bring us new opportunities. In terms of the cooperation with designers, our company is just at the beginning stage.
Host: Mr. Pang Xi, if you apply kitchen and bathroom products in your projects, will you choose domestic brands or foreign brands?
Pang Xi: For me, I will firstly recommend some good-looking brands, and then choose products according to the cost requirement of my client, rather than using products from a specific brand. Moreover, in terms of the project, we will guide customers to make choices by themselves, and will consider it as a major factor whether this product is consistent with the project. Therefore, the communication between the designer and the client is very important. You must have a clear understanding of what your client needs.
In the post-epidemic era, the economic structure has been transformed. Also, with the development of technology, changing of consumer group, industrial upgrading and many other external factors, there are unprecedented challenges and opportunities to stone companies, designers and the entire industry. The Development Forum of International Habitat Interior Design successfully concluded. We hope you who have been working in this industry would get inspired and regain power in this event, and thereby seek breakthroughs and opportunities further.