Professor Mathis Heller Discusses the Value of Design at University of Shanghai for Science and Technology
‘Design is everything, everything is design.’ On June 15, Professor Mathis Heller, world-renowned crossover designer and DeTao Master of Automotive & Industrial Design, delivered a lecture regarding the Value of Design at University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.
Professor Heller, from Germany, is Chief Designer at WeLL Design. His works have earned him a number of awards, including the Red Dot Design Award Best of the Best, the iF Design Award, the Plus X Award ‘Design’, the Dutch Design Award, and the GIO Award. Originally based in Munich, Germany, as an automotive, transportation, and product designer, his clients include the prestigious names of BMW, Ford, Siemens, Siemens Mobile, Bosch Siemens Household Appliance Group, Sedus Stoll AG, Verner Panton, and OSRAM. In November, 2013, he launched the Automotive & Industrial Design Studio at DeTao Masters Academy in collaboration with DeTao.
‘A design firm once conducted a survey on the role of design in order to figure out what it could really bring to a company. As it turned out, good design brought more profit than previously understood.’ Professor Heller pointed out, as in the case of the world-renowned brand Apple, that its success was attributed to its accurate customer positioning, definite brand concept, superb product quality, and particularly its brand design. ‘The WOW effect’, he explained, ‘has played a significant role in enhancing the power of Apple design. From this example we can see that high-grade design doesn’t necessarily cost more but will nearly always profit more’.
Professor Heller went on to demonstrate the Miscea Touchless Faucet that had earned him the Red Dot Design Award Best of the Best in 2009. According to him, Miscea was an exclusive touchless faucet and automatic distributor. A simple hand movement over the glass interface could regulate water flow and temperature while offering a choice of soap, sanitizer, detergent, or cleanser. The faucet would be lit by an LED light upon movement over the glass interface by the user, a delicate design which greatly optimized the user experience.
‘A good designer is perceptive and has a keen insight into social trends,’ continued Professor Heller. After discussing the patterns and movements of society, he went on to introduce another design of his: Work Away. ‘Around the time of its inception’, he explained, ‘company staff members were not keen on office confinement, a feeling that was shared across many countries’. It was this sentiment that inspired Professor Heller to design Work Away, an outdoor office that could rotate freely to protect officer workers from direct sunlight and facilitate outdoor office work.
To Professor Heller, well-planned design was the best solution to any client’s problem. However, to better meet the demands and desires of customers, designers are no longer restrained to sitting in the office and are instead going out to derive inspiration from nature, crowds and the surroundings to help satisfy the growing customer demand.
Faced with urbanization problems of aggravating air pollution and energy shortage, Professor Heller devised a new solution: an innovative urban mobile vehicle to help reduce the problems of modern cities. The solution built upon his design practice in the automobile industry and was tailored to the practical conditions in large cities.
‘How should we incorporate individual design into the preserved design classics of predecessors?’ Professor Heller answered that the world was progressing constantly, and so was technology. Designs of predecessors, however great, could not measure up to newest standards. So, the younger generation of contemporary designers were not to worry, as the future belonged to them.
Finally, Professor Heller revealed his hope for the students. ‘Don’t be too anxious for a completed design. In a sense, a designer is a coordinator in charge of various resources as opposed to an outright design practitioner. It is the brainstorming before the design that matters most; design is about teamwork.’