Ning Zhang

Professional in Architecture Design.

About Ning Zhang

  • Winner of Architecture Design Award.
  • Specialized in Architecture Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Architecture
White Z  Veranda

White Z Veranda

Architecture Design

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Interview with Ning Zhang

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
It’s always been my aim to become a good designer. The study and work experience in China and Germany has helped me greatly.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
It is a very interesting studio, though not very big. We undertake large-scale city planning as well as quality small-scale architectural design.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
No matter for large-scale urban design, small-scale architectural design or industrial design, the type of project itself doesn't matter. It is whether it's interesting and brings better experience that really matters.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I can be moved by lots of excellent design. Each design has their own feature, so it's very hard to compare them and choose the best.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I would find the endowment that granted unique qualities to projects.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Anything that can properly solve designing problems is my favorite.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
The critical challenge of a project and the logic of its solution.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
I feel happy and hope that the project designed will be completed soon.
What makes a design successful?
Finding the key points and project endowment, and a logical design method under the imagination for the future of a project are the key to success.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Whether there is a clear goal, a logical design method, and whether it is moving decides a design as good or bad.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
The fairness of the society and the sustainable development mode of environment are always the contents to be concerned about in the design process, and may also provide designers with many inspirations. But now we should notice that the primary task for a designer is still the design itself.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
The development of technology will make design more free, and participation by more people and the blurring of the boundary of the design field may be expected.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
The core of design creation should be experience, I mean a designer shall experience something or imagine to experience something, and then convey it to others by means of design.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
Identifying the particular challenges of each project and giving logic to the solution is the most critical core of design approach.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live and work in Shanghai. Traditional culture needn’t be stressed in particular in design, for it will always affect you, and subtly bring some surprising influence to design. Nowadays, China and Shanghai are more vibrant than before, so architects can always find opportunities to create good works as long as they insist on it.
How do you work with companies?
I am in charge of both design and management in the company. Our management is always centered on how to ensure the quality of design.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
The basis of successful cooperation between a company and a designer is that both parties have common value goals. Only collaboration of designers at different levels and of different types makes a team successful. Therefore, the criterion of choice should be based on a common value, rather than a simple ability judgment.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
The key of design process is whether the special or critical problems of a project can be found at the first time, and the subsequent design process focuses on how to solve it.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
In my house, it's probably that: Metaphys Lucano, SIGG Alu Box, Mono Filio teapot, Surface Book2 and Nomos watches are my favorites.
Can you describe a day in your life?
I arrive at my office two or three hours in advance every day and I use the solitary time to solve some critical design problems. When work time begins, my job is more about coordinating the design work of every related party and controlling the design process. Having lunch with colleagues at noon is also a pleasant time.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Requirements on ability for designers will let you get a way to change your life, but sometimes it can make you picky too.
What skills are most important for a designer?
In addition to finding and solving problems, the key is to convince your employer to accept your solution.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Manual sketches are always given priority, after which I will deepen and validate them with relevant 3D and plane software.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I need to provide myself a quiet work time by arriving at my office ahead of time, which is very important for concentration on design and quality of design.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Typically 2-4 months, or maybe longer if a project allows more time for design. As everybody knows, designers always feel that there is not enough time for design.
What was your most important job experience?
I have been engaged in research job in University of Stuttgart, Germany during the period from 2003 to 2011, and design practice has dominated my time since then.
Who are some of your clients?
China's architectural market is quite special, and there are relatively fewer projects entrusted by individual owners. Our clients mainly fall into two categories: local government and enterprise customers.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy the most small-scale architectural projects, the quality of which may be controlled. That’s because such projects are of high quality controllability and the effect of completion can be seen quickly, which is a pleasant experience to me.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Our reconstruction planning for Hefei Airport Core Area and for the former Jinan Steel Plant are very exciting. In addition, our two small architectural works in a small town in South China will be completed next year, which will be very interesting.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
You have asked very comprehensive questions, so I have no other things to cover for the time being.

Extended Interview with Ning Zhang

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I received learning on architectural design in Wuhan and Chongqing. Then, I conducted a research on urban design for a long time under the guidance of Professor Franz Pesch from German University of Stuttgart.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
It is because I believe that design is an interesting thing for me.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
My design scope span is a little bit large, including large city planning and small architectural design with high quality.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
Maybe everyone has different understanding of legend. I believe that to make your design charming is more important than to make yourself someone.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
Excellent designers make “good” design. Great designers make their own design.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Good design means to properly solving problems. A design which can solve problems is valuable.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I will accomplish projects which can be realized with controllable design quality with employers who have the same understanding of quality as me.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
Architects, such as Corbusier, Siza, Tadao Ando, etc. who can truly express themselves are always adorable.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
It is hard to judge which design is great. Designs which can ingeniously and elegantly solve problems are awesome.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
Find special problem in normal life is an important channel to make an improvement.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
I am not sure, but it is certain that there is innovation in every work.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Design is to find a way for things needing to be solved. My design is to find critical problems and to reasonably solve them.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
In terms of specialty, lots of teachers have helped me a lot, such as Deng Kunyan, Professor Franz Pesch, etc. My parents and family have greatly supported me in all stages.
What helped you to become a great designer?
Great is far away from me. However, I am sure that design hobby is the most important assistance and driving force for me.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
With increase of projects and expansion of scale, lots of external things need to be coordinated. The key problem needs to be solved is how to continue to pay high attention to design.
How do you think designers should present their work?
Good work does not need to be interpreted, it is just presented. Of course, it is easier for people with the same hobby to find what they need on the platform like A design Award, which is a good thing.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
We are accomplishing an interesting urban design. Meanwhile, a reception center of a small town and a bridge with mixed functions will be constructed in the next year. These projects will be interesting.
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
The ultimate target of a designer is to make good design and complete it!
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
The premise of a designer being respected in the society is that he / she can make good design. Maybe it is the expectation.
How does design help create a better society?
If a designer has correct world outlook, his / her design will naturally contributes to creating a better society. I do not approve of some representational and me-too design solutions.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
Several urban design projects in progress are challengeable. I look forward to final realization of them.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
White “Z” Veranda in the porch published on A design award, reception center and bridge in a small town in Lanxi, and our urban design projects in Hefei and Jinan are all pleasant projects.
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
Integration between design and new urban construction technology is more and more strong. On the one hand, more means can be provided for tool kit of a designer due to technology; on the other hand, new requirements are proposed for space due to technology change, which needs to be solved by designers.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
I will continue to pay attention to architecture and urban design. There is sufficient space in the two fields for me to express my ideas.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
It usually takes 2 to 6 months. If allowable, more time would be taken for some projects.
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
I start it from finding special challenges of a project needing to be solved.
What is your life motto as a designer?
I have never carefully thought about it. However, carefully making every design in hand is my major concern.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Design will be more convenient with design-assisting technology. I face lots of challenges in space due to construction and urban development technology. It seems that shared bikes which are extensively distributed to China cause lots of troubles in urban space management. How to solve it? It is the problem needing to be solved by designers.
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
I use Surface Book which is suitable for preliminary free-hand sketch and subsequent in-depth discussion of the project.
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
They are important elements in design and will be key design points needing to be paid attention to as other elements in different projects.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
Design partners in different fields are required for different design. Joint design is important for development of complex project. However, a final choice shall be made.
Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
Existence, Space, and Architecture of Norberg-Schulz has great impact on me.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
You can always gain a lot by deeply thinking about problems you faced and carefully designing all links.
Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
My mother passed away long ago. It must be amazing and happy to talk what happened now with her.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
Being famous is not an important thing. I consider various prizes as approval of people who are in the same camp as me to my design. It is pleasant to have an opportunity to meet them.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
I like black and white. Every place has its features. Shanghai where I live is interesting. In addition, I am interested in new electronic products.
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
Design process is usually checkered and repeated. For example, the project we have designed for a long time is stopped after white “Z” Veranda is published on A Design Award. It is a little bit frustrating. It is lucky, however, that the project is rapidly implemented due to implementation of country park project several months later. The turn seems interesting when we look back.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
I arrive at my office to make design three hours in advance everyday, thus I feel that I keep close touch with design every day. It feels awesome. The most motivation for me is to make my design have its features.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
Constant development of new technology will have great impact on construction and urban space in the future. And the space that we take for granted should be one of spatial types in the future.

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