ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Lee Eng Leong is the industrial design manager for the Asia Pacific region of World Kitchen, since 2010. He provides leadership in innovation across the Asia portfolios of the company. He is primarily responsible for leading the product design and development team to deliver new products. They aim to provide growth and a competitive advantage for World Kitchen. Eng Leong is one of the key pioneer leaders for the newly founded Asia Design & Innovation Center (ADIC) of World Kitchen. The new creative centre sets out to create innovative product designs that specifically meet the houseware needs of the Asian consumer. They handle houseware products that cover preparation, cooking, serving and storing.
Eng Leong has more than 14 years of experience in his practice of industrial design. He has previously worked at Orcadesign Consultants, Design Integration (DI) in Motorola Network & Enterprise (Penang) as well as OSIM. He has previously focused on consumer electronics, as well as communication products, before rising to the challenges to create meaningful products for the kitchen. His extensive managerial experience, prior to venturing into kitchenware products, helped him build a strong foundation for creative leadership. Eng Leong is passionate about the relationship between the three domains of human-centered design, applied technology, as well as business innovation. He believes that great products and services can create compelling user experiences, build brands, produce competitive advantage, and improve lives. These are considerations that drive outstanding designers to produce meaningful products.
For him, human-centric designs should include basic considerations from the point of view of the consumer. To attract the end-user, the product also needs to engage the people who use it. The element of surprise is hence important in any design. There should be a “wow” factor, which is so interesting that it entices people to take a second look.
The market requires and is more ready to accept products that are straightforward. Designers should be curious about products already in the market and pick them up to try. They should also observe trends. It is important to create products that users intuitively know how to use. He feels that industrial designers should work towards getting rid of the instruction manual, in order to truly achieve human- centric designs that engage people.
Eng Leong keeps a series of journals to sketch his initial ideas and thought processes. He fondly calls them his “black books”. He encourages every designer to keep an idea book that is used to document thoughts. For him, initial ideas are usually the best ideas. He recounts working on designs where months after development, the design team finds themselves going back to the original sketch.
To Eng Leong, the calibre of young designers is defined by their passion and drive. They also need an eagerness to observe, learn and digest. In fact, observation should start even before the design process. A driven young designer, should be willing to take on tasks outside the checklist of instructions. His team of designers is constantly encouraged to do more than what they have been tasked to do.
Lee Eng Leong’s advice for emerging designers:
“Young designers need to constantly uplift their passion for design. A successful designer must have an eye for design and good observation skills. It is the ability to see and observe that will be an added value.”