skip to Main Content
design lab sheng-feng qin

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School of Design in Northeast England. His research spans everything from digital design with high-speed rail systems in China to crowdsourcing-based and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) tools in the United Kingdom. As a visiting faculty and researcher at the Design Lab at UC San Diego, Qin has been working to marry the principles of emotional design with the development of social platforms. Here’s our conversation with Dr. Qin.

How can we link more design solutions directly to people and business?

Qin: The process of product development involves idealization, prototyping and finding partners for manufacturing. When identifying platforms for product development, people often use a variety of different tools to bring their idea to fruition. Instead of creating one singularly-focused platform, we should create platforms that are adaptive to a wide range of needs. It’s this dynamic dialogue that drives the creation of better, more useful products. In manufacturing, there are networks of companies and universities that rally around ideation and production. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas end up unused and forgotten. So, how can we link solutions more directly to the people who would find them useful?

When we first start looking at a problem, we are presented with constraints. The magic happens when we go beyond the problem and come up with an idea that cuts through expectations. For example, technology companies often believe that good business simply means acquiring more users. However, research tells us that an increase in users is often the result of a product’s ease of use, ability to engage people and create an emotional connection that inspires people to want to participate. So maybe instead of seeking to acquire users, we should set out to create tools that are easy to use, effectively engage people, and evoke an emotional connection.

Having worked in China, U.K., and the U.S., how is design viewed differently or similarly across the different countries?

Qin: China tends to focus more on the engineering aspect due to their rapid industrial development,” says Dr. Qin. “The U.K. favors graphics and animation associated with the arts and social sciences. Design in the U.S. looks to be more inclusive and interdisciplinary across research, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In the U.S., I find there is a strong emphasis on public service, which appears to be the future of design thinking.

About Dr. Sheng-feng Qin:

Dr Sheng-feng Qin is Professor of Digital Design at Northumbria University with an extensive career in design academia. Prior to this post, he was a Reader in Product/Industrial Design at Northumbria University (January 2014-July 2015).

Before joining Northumbria School of Design in 2014, he worked in Department of Design at Brunel University as a Senior Lecturer in Product Design (September 2007- December 2013) and a Lecturer in Industrial Design (September 2001-August 2007). At Brunel University, he led the Computer Aided Design and Engineering research group between 2007 and 2013.  Dr Qin was a post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Loughborough’s Manufacturing System Integration Institute (MSI) between 2000 and 2001, and a Research Assistant in the School of Product Design at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Cardiff Metropolitan University now) between 1998 and 1999. Before his visit to the University of Birmingham between 1996 and 1997 as an Academic Visiting Scholar in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, he was an Associate Professor at East China Jiaotong University of China. He worked as a Design Engineer in HuaiBei Coal Mining Construction Company in China between 1983 and 1985.

Prof. Qin has published more than 150 papers in journals and conferences and 2 books.

Read Next

Uc San Diego Design Lab Design At Ucsd

Design at UCSD Students Reflect on Summer Internships

This past summer, several members of the Design at UCSD leadership team landed incredible internships alongside leading…

Don Norman On User-friendly Design

I wrote the book on user-friendly design. What I see today horrifies me

The world is designed against the elderly, writes Don Norman, 83-year-old author of the industry bible Design of Everyday Things and a former Apple VP.

More people than ever are living long, healthy lives. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average life expectancy is 78.6 years for men and 81.1 for women. More relevant, however, is that as people grow older, their total life expectancy increases. So for those who are now 65, the average life expectancy is 83 for men and over 85 for women. And because I’m 83, I’m expected to live past 90 (but I’m aiming a lot higher than that). And these are averages, which means that perhaps half of us will live even longer.
Smart Streetlights Data San Diego

San Diegans Shouldn’t Be Lab Rats for Innovation

Voice of San Diego Editorial by Design Lab Faculty Lilly Irani

In 2016, San Diego installed thousands of General Electric cameras, microphones and telecommunication devices on streetlights around the city. The City Council approved the project with little investigation, looking no further than the city’s casting of the project as environmental “sensors” and “nodes” that would analyze traffic and the atmosphere.

The city finally held town halls this year to explain the program to communities, but by then it was too late. Once installed, technologies of this type will outrun the uses for which they are designed and publicly justified. Over and over, researchers like myself have seen data creep — like mission creep — take hold as companies try to add value to data and monetize them.
Tricia Ngoon

Tricia Ngoon, UCSD & Design Lab PhD Graduate, Discusses “Adaptive Conceptual Guidance”

Currently, in the spotlight of Tricia Ngoon’s research and involvement with The Design Lab is her recently accepted paper, Shöwn: Adaptive Conceptual Guidance Aids Example Use in Creative Tasks, which will appear in the Designing Interactive Systems virtual conference this summer, 2021. Her research hypothesizes that providing “adaptive conceptual guidance” will improve a person’s implementation of examples within creative work, as opposed to providing a static example. Using the domain of web comics, “[researchers in the study] present concepts to people alongside examples as they work.” Ngoon adds that “It’s essentially a step towards coaching. For example, if [a person is] working on a comic you might present a concept to consider the framing or kind of the composition of the panel and then [show] examples of different types of framing and composition.” Ultimately, her research concluded that “these adaptive suggestions as a person is working in context really help with making a clear and more unique story. It kind of changes the way they look at their ideas because they are more likely to explore different [ones].” 
Design Lab #wearenotwaiting Nightscout Openaps

How DIY Designers are Impacting Healthcare

#WeAreNotWaiting is the social media movement of folks in the diabetes community who have come…

Daniel Suh Designer-in-residence

Meet Designer-in-Residence & Data Analyst Daniel Suh

Daniel Suh has always been passionate about creating partnerships to uplift others. While he was an undergraduate at UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College, he founded one of the university’s first student consulting organizations, Cornerstone Community Consultants, which provides pro-bono opportunities for students to empower the local community. Suh also established UCSD’s first chapter of International Justice Mission, a student-led organization that centers around human rights, anti-human trafficking, and law enforcement. "Growing up in an underprivileged community, I've discovered a passion for social justice and contributing to causes larger than myself," Suh says.
Back To Top